Student film shows immigration through new lens

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Yasir Masood | Daily Texan Staff

Director Yasir Masood collaborated with Aishwarya Noubad, producer and radio-television-film junior, to create “Aisha,” a short film that follows a Pakistani female cop during a day on the job.

Based in Houston, “Aisha” is a look into immigration and the strength that female film characters can possess if given the agency, UT alumnus Masood said.

“‘Aisha’ has a lot of perseverance, a lot of strength and a huge desire to work for the greater good, which is what inspired me,” Masood said.

Masood wrote the script and directed the film, which he plans to enter into the Austin Film Festival. Masood’s recent movie, “The Last Hunt,” premiered at the festival last year.

In the beginning of the film, Aisha is in pursuit of a woman from Mexico named Elena who is working for a man who runs a prostitution ring. The protagonist wants Elena to testify against the man, but Elena is undocumented and doesn’t want to endanger herself.

“It starts off pretty volatile, as you can imagine,” Masood said.

Elena serves as a foil to Aisha but without some of the same privileges Aisha enjoys as a citizen, Masood said.

“The reason I became interested in the script for this film was its incredible storytelling,” Noubad said.

Masood said women of color are not given a lot of agency or character development in film and are usually set in the background.

“I have a younger sister, so I wanted to make something that she would be able to identify with,” Masood said.

Aisha’s character is based off of a real Pakistani female cop whose identity has been kept anonymous in the movie and in this story for her security. The cop said being understanding of immigrants while on the job comes easily.

“It’s just a matter of exposure to other people and newer things,” the cop said. “The more educated you are, the more open-minded and more respectful you are of other cultures and religions.”

Masood said he has always felt a responsibility for taking on Muslim, Pakistani and Indian portrayals in the media.

The film crew for “Aisha” is partnering with the Houston Area Women’s Center by directly promoting the center in its credits and giving the center a percentage of the profit through a crowd-funding campaign, Masood said.

The center works to end domestic and sexual violence through free and confidential support.