Another day, another controversy. A clip has resurfaced where senior actor Naumaan Ijaz is seen baring it all in Iffat Omar’s Youtube show Say It All with Iffat Omar. The interview spans topics such as his immense success, humor, past memories the actor and host share, and much more. However, the clip that has caught the public’s attention, and is now a hot topic on social media, is a bit where Nauman Ijaz is seen casually admitting to indulging in infidelity.
What went down
The interview in question has the esteemed actor having a candid conversation with host Iffat Omar. During the conversation, Iffat comments on how artists are ‘aashiq mizaaj’ as she leads it into a question of how Nauman handles the ‘titliyaan‘ fluttering about him and any passing fancies he might have had.
Mr. Ijaz casually admits that he’s an amorous man who falls in love a lot, even daily he jokes. Naumaan goes on to explain that how he easily falls for a woman who is beautiful both in nature and in appearance and the more “difficult” a woman the more fun it is to fall for them. When Iffat inquired how his marriage filters into it, Naumaan remarked that he’s a great actor and has never let his wife find out. Neither the women’s husbands, he cheekily added. Iffat then asks him but do the women, who are the subject of his fancy, know of his affections and Naumaan confidently replies that yes, they do.
These statements are largely problematic as they promote infidelity and show no respect for the sanctity of marriage. Furthermore, Iffat Omar was seen making light of the statement and responded by saying, “You must teach me these tricks”‘. What kind of tricks are we talking about here? The trick to keeping your partner in the dark while trapezing about with other romantic interests?
The sad part is, it doesn’t end here. Iffat then moves on to the #MeToo movement and asks Naumaan’s views on it. Naumaan Ijaz answered by citing his personal experience that if he’d see talent in a young girl and invite her over and then for some reason wasn’t able to give her a role at that moment in time, the girl would be disappointed and what she says as a result of that disappointment is out of his control. He further said that the movement was dangerous, could be weaponized, and is all due to ‘deen se doori‘.
The #MeToo movement has already been through a lot with the general air of disbelief people have towards harassment survivors. An analysis like this by a senior actor only makes matters worse.
Problematic nature of the show
Naumaan Ijaz’s interview is not a lone incident. Iffat Omar’s show is notorious for inappropriate content either in the form of her questioning methods or the answers to said inappropriate questions. In this case, Iffat questioning Naumaan, a married man, about extramarital romances is wrong before he even begins to answer it.
Similarly, in another interview with Sawera Nadeem, Iffat is seen asking questions about her character Maham in her drama Meray Pass Tum Ho. The questions seem more accusatory than inquisitive and while Sawera answers gracefully, she has to remind the hostess quite a few times that she’s taking things out of context.
In another interview with Meera, Iffat inquired about Meera’s age and did not let it go. Meera and the director of Baaji, Saqib Malik, steered the conversation towards ageism in the industry and how actors had a shelf life but even after that, despite Meera’s visual discomfort, Iffat was seen demanding a number.
Another such example was from an interview with Ali Rehman Khan and Hareem Farooq. Iffat talked about her disbelief when working with Rahat Kazmi saying that she took many retakes of a scene where he had to hug her while playing the role of her father. Iffat said that Rahat Kazmi was unaware but she was fulfilling her own ‘tharak‘. The statement is wrong on so many levels and sets a completely wrong precedent for on-set interactions between colleagues.
The above examples present a clear dilemma now. Do we get to blame guests for speaking without thought? Yes. Public interviews are not drawing-room talk. They need to uphold a certain level of decorum.
But we also need to hold the hosts accountable for inappropriate questioning. Interviewers need to deviate from this norm of cornering guests into giving controversial statements all for the sake of getting masala to boost their ratings and views. They need to have some basic ethical guidelines so that they’re questions do not infringe upon morality or the guest’s privacy.