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Ushna Shah gets candid about activism, trolling, and break from acting

08:49 PM | 11 May, 2023
Ushna Shah gets candid about activism, trolling, and break from acting
Source: Ushna Shah (Instagram)

In a recent interview with a local publication, the Pakistani entertainment fraternity's celebrated actress, Ushna Shah, got candid about many aspects of her life. From working as a WWF Pakistan Goodwill Ambassador for animal rights to facing online scrutiny around her wedding, her repute put at stake for association with actor Feroze Khan, and her future plans for her illustrious career, the Canadian-Pakistani star has dished it all.    

On Animal Activism  

Following a meeting with FOUR PAWS International after the unfortunate demise of the 17-year-old ailing elephant, Noor Jehan, in Karachi, Shah described, "I don't think you choose the activism you're into; I think it chooses you."   

"I’ve been inclined towards animal welfare since I was a baby. I want to raise awareness about animal rights to many people. That is something that's not a calculated move on my part. My idea of fame, of what little I have, is to raise awareness about issues people don't discuss enough. I don't want issues to bring fame to me," the 33-year-old star added.

An integral part of activism in favor of banning zoos in Pakistan, Shah believes "patriarchy and toxic masculinity" to be the deep-rooted cause for such an inhumane idea. "You wouldn't see women who come across money and the first thing she'd do is buy a land and cage a bunch of animals there. Men do this. Women who are fascinated by this are highly influenced by men," the Parizaad diva remarked.

There's no way pain can be measured, but people expect the Bandhay Aik Dor Se actress to weigh different scenarios on the same scale. "I tend to gravitate towards the voiceless. With animals, you speak for them, opening you up for harassment. It's always the same question: But what about Syria, Palestine, and humans? But the thing is, there is hardly any voice when it comes to animal rights; people want to shut it down. I get ample hate for this.”

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A post shared by Ushna Shah-Amin (@ushnashah)

The Marriage Saga  

As much as the Bashar Momin star wanted her wedding to be a private event, her big day was soured by many. From trolling the Bewafa actor for her 'Indian bridal look' to breaching the privacy of the event, social media users spared no one and nothing, however, the Alif actress made peace with the reality of the internet.

"Appalled" and "angry" over people's apathy, Shah said, "I think I was most enraged about people in the industry trying to violate something very sacred to me. I was crystal clear about keeping the sanctity of my Nikkah. When that was compromised, I was just angry. I was appalled at the audacity."

There's no point in justifying yourself against millions of ignorant trolls, and Shah finally accepted this fact, instead, the star decided to live the moment. "My wedding was the best time of my life. All these people had flown in for our wedding and reception; they told me it was the best wedding they'd been to. I realised that I would be stressed by reading this negativity; this week will fly by and I will never get it back. I will regret it. Therefore I just announced that I am taking a small break to enjoy those days truly. I've rarely made a better decision than that," she shared.

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A post shared by Ushna Shah-Amin (@ushnashah)

On Working with Feroze Khan  

Feroze Khan and Aliza Sultan's divorce on the account of domestic violence became the most talked about controversy in Lollywood, and although Shah had nothing to do with it, she became the nexus. The criticism came after Shah and Khan's blockbuster drama, Habs, was aired. Since the actors shared the screen, netizens assumed they shared a good camaraderie off-screen too, and expected the Alif Allah Aur Insaan star to issue a statement.  

However, the Cheekh actress had already wrapped up the shoot of Habs before the allegations made rounds. "I keep getting dragged into this. If I don’t say anything, then I am a supporting, I get trolled and get dragged in headlines. If I do say something, then I have some sort of obsession with this person. So, I’m scared to talk about this. I just want this to be over now," the star said.

Amidst the shooting of Habs, the co-stars had unfollowed each other on social media, and the duo had a fall out even having instances that made her leave the set in tears. "I didn't think I was the right person to talk about it because I wasn't in a good place with the accused. But imagine being kicked and trolled from every corner - whether he deserved it or not - I didn't want my name on that list," the actress clarified.

To clarify, Shah's support for Sultan did not subside. "My heart would always be with the women. Truth be told, I don't care about that. This may have been hearsay, but close mutual friends of ours reached out and told me perhaps this person wasn’t in a good place, in hindsight they may have been mistaken about this. They’re ready to be taken to the court of law and have a fair trial, I was told there were vigos sent to their home, and of course there is the obvious online trolling towards the family that I have seen myself.  This got to me. Even if someone had abused me and I came to know the kind of trolling they are being subjected to, I'd ask everyone to calm down," she claimed.

"I did indirectly reach out and send love, this was an ugly situation and I feel for her," the actor shared. "But I am wondering about why I should be reaching out to the two of them. Why am I the vanguard of that? Am I their marriage counsellor, or am I their attorney? Am I the face of their scandal? I'm not. But I have sent her love." She further shared, "What Twitter failed to see was the second part of my message that I had shared. It said that I am no one to forgive him. I am no one to do anything towards Feroze," the Thoda Sa Aasman actress added.

"See, it's simple. You're not going to get accountability for harassing someone's family. The kind of men we have in society, the ego they bear, the patriarchy we see - you can shout at the top of your lungs in front of their houses, you will get nothing in terms of accountability; you'll get destruction and their mothers crying. You can get accountability by boycotting to work with them, refusing to endorse them, or taking them to court," she opined. 

Exhausted from the unnecessary criticism, Shah added, "I just starred in a drama with him; I worked hard. Since then, whether I have been quiet, whether I've asked people to be kind to him or his wife, for whatever reason, I keep getting dragged into it and I am genuinely exhausted. I don't want to take any part in it and this is me finally putting an end to it." 

Trolls and their Tolls 

Earlier in Ramadan, the Bitiya Hamaray Zamanay Mein star shared her unfiltered thoughts that gained negative attention.

"When I put that post up, I was thinking about Aamir Liaquat Hussain. Dr. Liaquat had done things that I don't necessarily agree with, but he was trolled so mercilessly that he ended up dying. His death was a direct cause of trolling. And then I am envisioning this man that I have worked with and have severe differences with, and allegedly ought to be held accountable. But if he were to be in a dangerous space such as Dr Liaqat's. That was when I requested people to be kinder to everyone. I wouldn't wish that kind of hate on people who have abused me. I can guarantee that was worse than what he had allegedly done," the actress remarked.

Realizing how useless it was to teach kindness and humility to an ignorant lot, Shah added, "It was around the same time that I came to terms with the fact that all this [activism] wasn't about women empowerment because you cannot be selective about empowerment. The internet is just a medium to hate people, and hate travels much faster than rationality." 

On the Work Front

"I am just taking a break and focusing on my marriage. I also want to focus on my writing for a while. But if I am honest, I don't know if it's worth it," adding that she "loves her "art."

"I love acting. I love creating characters. But on the side of it, it opens you up to be the topic of discussion everywhere. They can say anything they'd want. I don't know if any script I read recently is worth going through that. I am in talks for a couple of dramas but am unsure," the Ru Baru Ishq Tha stated. 

"This idea of two women fighting over a man just irks me to the core! I had so many fights about this in Habs as well. On what planet is that okay? All love stories on our television are the same. It's ridiculous," she opined.

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A post shared by Ushna Shah-Amin (@ushnashah)

While she may be taking some time off, Shah revealed that she has a film coming out soon with Usman Mukhtar, Chikkar, a crime drama. "It's a pretty awesome film, I'm very proud of it," she added.

The writer is a staff member.

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PKR exchange rate to US dollar, Euro, Pound, Dirham, and Riyal - 13 April 2024 Forex Rates

Pakistani currency remains largely same against US dollar and other currencies in open market on April 13, 2024.

US Dollar rate in Pakistan

On Saturday, the US dollar was being quoted at 277.4 for buying and 280.65 for selling.

Euro was quoted at 299.95 for buying and 302.9 for selling while British Pound stands at 349.5 for buying, and 353 for selling.

UAE Dirham AED was at 75.45 and Saudi Riyal's new rates was at 73.30. 

Today’s currency exchange rates in Pakistan - 12 April 2024

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