Pantheon of women superheros has a new entry from Pakistan - the Burka Avenger, a mild mannered school-teacher who fights feudal villains and terrorists getting in the way of girls' education.
The cartoon series in Urdu will begin airing on Pakistan's most-watched GeoTV channel in August this year. It has been conceived by one of Pakistan's best-known pop stars, Aaron Haroon Rashid to emphasize the importance of girls’ education and teach children other lessons, such as tolerance and concern for the environment.
It appears that the series is inspired by the story of Malala Yousufzai, a Pakistan teenage school-girl who miraculously survived an assassination attempt
by the Taliban in Swat valley last year. Malala has since become an international icon for girls' education worldwide. The United Nations declared Malala's 16th birthday this year on July 12 as Malala Day
to focus on girls' education.
“Each one of our episodes is centered around a moral, which sends out strong social messages to kids,” Rashid told The Associated Press
in his first interview about the show. “But it is cloaked in pure entertainment, laughter, action and adventure.”
Responding to a question about the choice of burqa, Rashid said “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,” Rashid added.
The series is set in Halwapur, a fictional town nestled in the soaring mountains and verdant valleys of northern Pakistan, according to The Associated Press. The Burka Avenger’s real identity is Jiya, whose father, Kabbadi Jan, taught her karate which she uses to defeat her enemies. When not dressed as her alter ego, Jiya does not don a burqa, or even a headscarf to cover her hair.
The main villains are Vadero Pajero, a balding, corrupt politician who wears a dollar sign-shaped gold medallion around his neck, and Baba Bandook, an evil man with a bushy black beard and mustache who is drawn to resemble a Taliban commander.
Caught in the crossfire are the show’s main child characters: Ashu and her twin brother Immu and their best friend Mooli, who loves munching on radishes alongside his pet goat, Golu.
Other major stars featured in Burka Avenger series include Ali Zafar, Ali Azmat and Josh band members. Like other series featuring major superheros, the series will be promoted through mobile apps, video games, music videos and other merchandise in Pakistan.
The series is an indication that Pakistan's mass media are getting serious about major issues confronting the country. It is a very timely effort to address two major issues Pakistan faces: Girls education and terrorism. The two issue are intertwined because the Taliban terrorists are among the biggest obstacles to educating girls in Pakistan, particularly in the nation's north western region infested by the Taliban. Series such as these have the potential to bring about a social revolution in Pakistan.
Here's a preview video of the show:
Adil Omar x Haroon- Lady In Black - Burka... by darkinsky
Burka Avenger Videos on Vimeo Channel
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