Pakistan’s advertisements have a history of not exactly being kind toward the sensibilities of people. They would rather perpetuate cultural stereotypes for easy access to people’s wallets than use their platform to offer a chance for people to reflect on societal norms, have discussion over concepts of equality and freedom or even just identify with something progressive.
Lately, Kenwood Pakistan has been coming up with a series of ads for it’s home appliances featuring Nawazuddin Siddiqui from across the border and our very own, Ayesha Khan.
The ads have a comical and humorous aura to them, showing Nawazuddin as a husband who says inappropriate things at the most wrong occasions
For example, as in their advertisement for these air conditioners, Siddiqui accidentally said how he felt about his friend’s wife, which Ayesha, who plays his wife, doesn’t approve.
This ad tickled a funny bone in people because Siddiqui gets uncomfortable due to his comment and gets scared as he knows that his wife does not approve of these remarks. Yeah, that’s very funny.
Then, Kenwood came up with another ad having our beloved biryani in which Siddiqui again makes his wife angry which was again funny because he gets scared of her:
Awaam liked this one as well because a clumsy husband is always the center of jokes because of being a runn mureed.
So, apparently the brand thought that since the awaam seems to enjoy this genre they should kick it up a notch (or several hundreds of notches, actually) and recently come up with this:
Can’t even begin to explain how this is wrong on so many levels.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui seemed like a reasonable actor. We all laughed at his scared husband trope because that’s a harmless drawing room joke everyone enjoys since the wife is seen just giving him angry stares, but joking about hitting your wife? That’s not okay.
Domestic violence, whether the wife is the victim, or the husband, is not a matter to be joked about.
It is a serious problem, one that many people in Pakistan, and beyond, are victims. Not only is making a joke about such a thing insensitive to them, it perpetuates the idea that it’s apparently okay to not only make jokes about hitting your spouse but also doing it in practice.
Also, joking about being a scared husband aside, if Siddiqui’s character is scared of his wife, because of similar assault, although that hasn’t been shown or discussed about in any of the ads in the series, yet, is still not healthy. A healthy marriage shouldn’t be based on either of the spouses living in fear of the other.
People have been appropriately enraged by the casual joking around about domestic violence in the ad
And they’ve suggested alternate endings which would have made the ad more effective
But there are still a lot of people who would rather take such a matter that many women and men are suffering from “lightly”
Kenwood’s tagline is ‘Khush raho’ but no one ever stays happy when domestic violence is present in a relationship. Neither the victim nor the abuser. Kenwood, yes, you’ve to sell your product but you also need to remember that you’ve got a social responsibility and it becomes more delicate if you feature actors in your ads who are highly influential in the lives of masses.
Life and death matters aren’t to be made jokes about.
Cover image via: Ad Mad Dude / Facebook