Rape is one of the most prevalent and heinous forms of crimes against women. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, astonishingly one female is raped in Pakistan every two hours, which sees the country ranked third from the bottom as the most dangerous for women in the world.
In an attempt to spotlight the necessity for female empowerment, critically acclaimed filmmaker Shoaib Mansoor will once again use the medium of cinema to raise awareness, ignite action and create change by producing and directing his highly anticipated and emotive social drama, Verna, releasing in cinemas on 17th November through Eveready Pictures, one of the first and oldest film production and distribution companies in Pakistan which have played a pivotal role in establishing and reviving Pakistani cinema with over 400 colour and black and white films and HUM Films, a reputable film production and distribution company based in Karachi, Pakistan, working under the Hum Network Group.
Verna stars the vivacious and unconventional Pakistani actress Mahira Khan, marking her second collaboration with Shoaib Mansoor after the huge success of the critically acclaimed ‘Bol’. She is joined by Haroon Shahid, lead singer of SYMT, who makes his acting debut in the film.
Shoaib Mansoor is renowned for backing projects that not only play a vital role in the revival of Pakistani cinema but also that draw attention to critical socio-political issues, fromfeudalism and misuse of power to gender equality, as he did with breakthrough films such as ‘Bol’ and ‘Khuda Kay Liye’. Both of his previous outings were appreciated not only in Pakistan but also in India; ‘Bol’ not only became one of the highest-grossing Pakistani films of all time but was also appreciated as Best Hindi Film at the IRDS Film Awards in 2011 by the Institute for Research and Documentation in Social Sciences, a Lucknow-based civil society organization for raising many social issues including the regressive attitude of a male-dominated society.
However, with Verna, Shoaib Mansoor is perhaps set to produce his most hard-hitting and poignant project to date, as he continues his passion-filled quest to implement social change through the art of film. He states, “I believe in meaningful cinema. The subject of all my films are very close to my heart and Verna is no different. It is my ongoing effort to educate both men and women – women to stand up for their rights and men to accept women as their equals.”
Rape is often used as a tool for oppression amongst the powerful in society to humiliate and invoke fear among the vulnerable. Bodies of women have become the battle ground for men to fight their battles of honor, power and revenge, leaving women powerless at the mercy of their abuser. The story of Verna seeks to push boundaries and eradicate the stigmas attached to discussing the monstrosities of rape whilst challenging the stereotype and commonly held myths that only poor women get raped, in dark lonely allies by uneducated savages.
Verna’s narrative revolves around the life of a highly educated and attractive woman Sara (Mahira Khan), who was born to an affluent family, with both parents teaching at a university. Out of her ideals of righteousness she goes on to marry a polio-stricken young musician Aami (Haroon Shahid) and they proceed to make a wonderful couple, leading a happy life until their lives are disrupted when they are faced with some extraordinary circumstances.
Facing the risk of punishment, marginalization and isolation, Sara looks to take a stand against rapists despite the fact she will have to battle the entirety of the socio-political system. This brave act will see Sara wage an impassioned fight against the powers that be as she looks to put an end to female oppression and sexual abuse against the vulnerable.
The hard-hitting trailer has already sparked curiosity and furor to seismic levels across a vast array of media and social media platforms. Powerful and political with equal measure, the short clip gives audiences a tacit taste of the social drama as it jumps from gaiety to grief.
Aside from the emotive drama in the scripting and setting, Verna will also feature music from rap artist Xpolymer Dar and Haroon, releasing on the 22nd October. Haroon’s casting in Verna marks a continuation in the trend of Shoaib Mansoor having multi-talented male leads who are also musicians.
An emotional storm of emotions, tackling one of the most historically vile crimes, the ground-breaking Verna releases worldwide on 17th November through Eveready Films and HUM Films.