‘The Pink Shirt’: Crossing borders and boundaries

In its content, The Pink Shirt is about letting go (of relationships gone bad), whereas in its process, it’s about building bridges (as an Indo-Pak collab)

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The eight-part web series The Pink Shirt, featuring popular Pakistani actors Sajal Aly and Wahaj Ali, had its world premiere at the ongoing SXSW Sydney.

In attendance were director Kashif Nissar, writer Bee Gul, producer Shailja Kejriwal and curator Jitin Hingorani who hosted an intimate Q&A with the team at Palace Central Cinemas.

Kashif Nissar, Bee Gul and Shailja Kejriwal (Source: Supplied)

Cinema goers got a sneak peak into the series with a preview of the first two episodes.

The Pink Shirt starts from where a toxic relationship can end. As the main characters navigate through the complexities of their broken relationships, they also embark on a transformative journey of friendship, love and light.

the pink shirt
Sajal Aly and Wahaj Ali; Source: Instagram

Though the pace of the series is slow and subtle, it’s the rawness and realism that draws you towards the depth of the characters, specially the role played by actress Sajal Aly who was recently seen in Shekhar Kapur’s film What’s Love Got to Do with It.

We asked the director Kashif Nissar how he dealt with displaying this complexity on screen.

“Sajal owned her character,” he said in reply. “I hardly had to direct her as she was so much in the skin of this character. The writer Bee Gul had laid out very well-crafted characters, making my job easier. We all were convinced by the story, the screenplay and the evolution through which the characters were going through.”

Source: Instagram

This series not only led to an evolution of characters but also an evolution within the South Asian community where toxicity in relationships is hardly discussed. “We are trained to always mend broken things,” writer Bee Gul said in the Q and A that followed the screening. “In our society, we can live without a bedroom but not a storeroom, and same is with relationships. We need to normalise that it’s ok to let go, move on and accept that it’s over.”

Presented by Applause Entertainment, a Zindagi original, The Pink Shirt is a South Asian collaboration between India and Pakistan. Behind this cross border collaboration is the show’s producer Shailja Kejriwal, who has been delivering content that goes against the norm.

“Art has no barriers and should not have boundaries,” Shailja said. “I don’t see borders stopping stories or artists. I see artists as the soft power. If people listen to people rather than political news channels, there is so much in common. There is only a small section that wants to create a rift. It’s the job of artists to represent the best versions of each other and that’s what we are trying to do.”

Team of The Pink Shirt at SXSW Sydney  (Source: Supplied)

She added, “With OTT platforms, the audience can watch anything, anytime. It’s a really good time for creative people as we don’t have to be bound by boundaries.”

So will The Pink Shirt transcend boundaries and languages?

“Absolutely. The series depicts the ‘missing emotion’ in modern day relationships where communication has broken down,” says the director Kashif Nissar.

READ ALSO: South Asian links at SXSW Sydney 2023

Neeru Saluja
Neeru Saluja
Neeru Saluja is a freelance films and arts writer with 20 years of experience. Specialising in Bollywood celebrity interviews, she has also covered music concerts, comedy shows, plays and interviewed artists for the Sydney Film festival, the Indian Film festival in Melbourne, WOMADelaide, AACTA and the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

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