Mujhay Na Kha Jana! : Women and Food in Faseeh Bari Khan’s "Burns Road Ki Nilofer"

  • Saba Khaliq


This paper is a materialist feminist study of Pakistani writer, Faseeh Bari Khan’s comedic telefilm, “Burns Road Ki Nilofer”, translated as “Nilofer of Burns Road”. A recurrent motif in Pakistani comedic telefilms is of women, both married and single, portrayed as beasts with voracious appetites and insatiable consumption patterns. This paper expounds how Khan’s female characters are portrayed as women of agency who, by claiming the right to comment on the desiring, economy and distribution of food, rise beyond their stereotypical representations of gluttonous eaters. Following Lisa Angelella’s scholarship on food and feminism, I posit that both Nilofer and her mother, Saeeda, try to negotiate their sense of selfhood and approach what it means to be a woman and a human via their conversations on food in the telefilm. My research aims to unravel the underlying dominant factor in their crippled sense of self while also retaining within it a muffled identification of female agency when the female characters consume as per their desiring. The void that women wish to fill while devouring great amounts of food, is occasioned by the absence of women’s positionality as a class in a patriarchal capitalist society where, as materialist feminist scholar Christine Delphy propounds, they are not made part of the system of “exchange of values” despite their domestic “labor” (“The Main Enemy” 73). Thus, this research reimagines womanhood and women’s exploitation in a domestic mode of production within Pakistani patriarchal capitalist cartographies.
Keywords: Materialist feminism, feminist food studies, Pakistani television, female selfhood, female appetite