Zenith Irfan talks ‘Motorcycle Girl’, staring culture and future plans
The real-life motorcycle girl, Zenith Irfan, sat down with Geo Pakistan on Tuesday to talk about the film adaptation of her life, the staring culture in Pakistan and the fulfillment of her late father’s dream.
Motorcycle Girl starring Sohai Ali Abro tells the story of Irfan — the first female biker to take a solo journey across Pakistan’s northern areas.
In a country where women’s ambitions are suppressed and they are told to step back, this film aims to break that barrier by focusing on ‘following your dream’.
“This story is not just a story of me riding my motorcycle. It is also a story of connecting with nature and my father on my trip to the northern areas,” Zenith said.
Unlike the movie, which shows Zenith’s character taking it on her own and travelling alone, the real-life adventure begs to differ.
“In real life, it is a lot different. I do not travel alone. I am part of a huge group and I move around with my brother. The movie had to show it a bit differently for story-telling purposes”.
‘People in cities tend to stare more’
With a country obsessed with staring, it is not strange that Zenith received her fair share of stares whenever she rides.
“It is interesting to see that I have driven both in the mountains and in the city, with the unwanted attention coming my way only in the city,” Zenith revealed.
“People in the mountains are more open to the idea of a girl riding a bike since they are used to seeing foreigners. Most of the time they don’t even know it’s a girl unless you take off your helmet,” she said.
“The people in the city have less exposure to this and are generally less open to the idea of a girl riding a motorcycle”, she added.
Starting out Zenith faced the same reservations as any other girl but thankfully she was brought up in a household where there was no distinction between boys and girls.
Preparing for a trip
Hopping on a motorcycle and zooming to northern Pakistan is a not as easy as it sounds.
According to Zenith, intense preparation goes in for a tour.
‘It just doesn’t happen in a day. It takes an entire day just to get everything packed and strapped onto our bikes. And at least a week to get the bikes ready. All in all, it takes a month for the entire thing to come together,” Zenith said.
‘When a film is made about you, people look up to you’
For Zenith, the casting of Sohai Ali Abro as the lead is an excellent choice however, she was nervous at first about her.
“Sohai is a self-made woman just like me, so she knows the struggle I went through and when I talk to her she knows about it as well as I do”.
The motorcyclist recalled the moment she was told Sohai would be playing her. “At first, I wasn’t sure because of Sohai. She is so different and lively,” shared Zenith.
Zenith admitted she never expected to see the day a film would be made on her. “We never imagined this would happen. I wish my father was here to see all this,” she said.
“It feels like I have a certain responsibility now. I have to project Pakistan in a positive light. When a film is made about you, people look up to you. As a Pakistani woman, I feel more responsible now.”
Talking about her future, Zenith said that first and foremost on her list is completing her education.