The Burka Avenger – A Look At Pakistan’s First SuperHeroine

Jul 26, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Screenplay

A special thanks to Pitch Media Inc. for their contribution towards this feature.

With the United Nation’s ‘Education For All’ campaign up and running, and the ‘Malala – heroine or  agent’ debates in full swing on social networks, the always-opportunist Geo TV network could not have picked a better time to launch their latest venture. Pakistan’s largest enterprise in the infotainment industry has shown why it is among the heavyweight setups of the country. The action-comedy animated series, Burka Avenger, which is to premier next month is already a hot topic on blogs, internet forums and social websites.

Burka-Avenger2

Set in the imaginary city of Halwapur somewhere in Northern Pakistan, Burka Avenger is the story of an ordinary school-teacher named Jiya, who is just not that ordinary. Taught by her father in the ancient (maybe not that ancient) art of Takht Kabaddi, Jiya is highly trained in battle and can use mere pens and books as lethal weapons against her opponents. When she is not teaching her students, Jiya dons a black ninja-like Burka and fights the villainous characters in her town who are of course, up to no good.

In the pilot, two of the main antagonists of the series pool forces to shut down the girls’ school in the city, only to see their attempt thwarted by the Burka Avenger’s theatrical Neo-like heroics. The first episode highlights the aim of the series – to emphasize the importance of girls’ education and teach children other lessons, such as protecting the environment and not discriminating against others. The mastermind behind the series, Haroon Rashid (yes, the Awaz wala Haroon), emphasized this when he pointed out,

“Each one of our episodes is centered on a moral note, which sends out strong social messages to kids. But it is cloaked in pure entertainment, laughter, action and adventure.”

Most of the controversy surrounding the series has been about the veil that the protagonist slips into when she transforms into her alter ego. To some liberal minds, the burka is a symbol of oppression for women, and a veiled character for young girls to look up to as their role model. Haroon, who apparently, has everything figured out, clarified that too,

“It’s not a sign of oppression. She is using the burka to hide her identity like other superheroes. Since she is a woman, we could have dressed her up like Catwoman or Wonder Woman, but that probably wouldn’t have worked in Pakistan.”

You don’t say, Mr. Rashid?

The first few records from the soundtrack are also out, and the team has indeed done a commendable job with it too. Haroon (himself) and the young rapper Adil Omar collaborate to bring us the most badass theme song for a cartoon show ever: Lady in Black, whose catchy chorus goes ‘Don’t mess with the lady in black, when she’s on the attack!’ Haroon also features on the rock band Qayaas’s Vadero Pajero which is an intro to, and titled same as the name as one of the series’ prime antagonists. The third track to be released was InQishaaf’s raw single Belagaam, which will be used in the show’s fight sequences.

Inqishaaf’s Shariq Khan spoke about being a part of the series in kind words,

“Burka Avenger has artists like Haroon, Ali Azmat, Ali Zafar, Josh, QB, Adil Omer & Jarrar associated to it. Standing in the same category is pretty awesome! I feel privileged that Haroon trusted me with his song. It was a lot of fun working with Adil and Haroon. They are both extremely professional and dedicated individuals. Lady in Black is definitely the most amazing theme song for a cartoon.”

With the show’s premier drawing closer as July comes to an end, this 21-year old reporter can hardly contain his excitement, as Pakistan’s first original superheroine makes her debut on the television screens around the country. Hopefully, the Burka Avenger will live up to our expectations and will be a form of healthy entertainment for both kids and adults alike, also passing the moral memos to our kids which they, arguably today, are in dire need of.

The Author

Ali Qamber is an engineering student at PNEC, NUST. He is a certified maila from St. Patricks High and lives, loves and wastes his time in Karachi. Besides writing useless stuff such as above, he also enjoys the finer things in a Karachiite's life, like night-cricket, hangouts at the beach and strikes. Find him on twitter (@qamberger) or facebook (saliqamber).

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