In one of those reality shows on one of Pakistani television channels, the host of the show drinks water out of water bottle and throws it away in a very heroic way as cameras roll up. Please take note that this show was recorded in an indoor set with families as audiences sitting around. No, they didn’t show where the bottle ended up, it could be anywhere on a head from the audience or some random place but imagine the number of children sitting in their houses and watching this show, what meaning would they grab out of this with their innocent minds?
Let’s just pretend that reality shows are the only sphere of our T.V. where we are lacking and let’s take a look at the shows that our T.V. channels are broadcasting in the name of ‘morning shows’. With sets boasting of wealth and competition, hosts of these shows shouting at their highest pitch, and a clapping applause from audience at a particular interval in a set pattern (I once noticed the same audience on two of morning shows running simultaneously on two channels just by the way) with guests mainly including actors, designers, beauticians, cooks and magicians and shows revolving around the theme of beauty, cooking and marriages, these shows are an explicit sign of how we lack so much in the sphere of entertainment.
Or let’s talk about dramas which are a major part of our T.V. and often receive huge appreciation. I remember before I gave up on T.V. I used to watch every new drama in the hopes that it would be something different and every drama somehow ended at the same old theme and pattern. No wonder the acting talent is immense, directors work demands appreciation but why are we so out of themes when it comes to drama writing? Why do we have to always revolve our drama around ‘marriage’ in the form of pre-marital affairs, failed marriages, conventional conduct to follow to make any marriage successful, extra marital affairs, forced marriages which somehow with the help of some magic end up to be happy marriages. Sometimes watching these dramas makes one feel as if there is nothing else happening around in our country and our lives are lived in the labyrinth of marriage.
If somehow someone fails at producing a good drama out of marriage the ever so golden theme of ‘womanhood ‘comes to their rescue with certain rigidly followed beliefs like bad women wearing jeans and good women in ‘Shalwar Kameez’, where helplessness of a woman is considered as a prerequisite for the path of good conduct trailed by the society, where it is deliberately made clear that suffering is for women and if acted otherwise she will be but ruined. These are surely elements of our society but who is to lift the curtain and let the facade fall away that society is putting on the bad in the form of devising certain dress code, helplessness, and quietness.
Only recently I caught a glimpse of one of the clips from a recent award ceremony on one of the T.V. channels and in that instant I couldn’t decide if it was really a clip from a Pakistani award show. They look so much like an urge to copy and be like foreigners that it has now become apparent and their desperation speaks for themselves. From dresses to performances to the sense of humor and music they look like a failed attempt to be someone else.
News channels are another story with anchor persons shouting at their highest ( I must say they are talented enough to leave morning show hosts behind in this), their deliberate attempts at biases and to portray every news from an anchor sitting on sky cameras rolling over the heads of a protesting procession to meals routine of a prominent persona as headlines; are totally neglecting the fact that there is life in Pakistan other than political accusations and fights, that though Pakistan is passing through a harder phase but there still remains positive elements to it and there is still life that thrives through cities and towns full of ‘people of Pakistan’, politics might play a huge role in a country’s role but politics is not all that a country is about. There are other sides to a country that need to be portrayed, their talk shows are another story and are merely an attempt at educating audiences or a sophisticated dialogue but everything else with everyone in the show shouting for no apparent reason. They look more like a shouting competition and less like a talk show.
Why do we have to distribute free gifts to the audience in such an inhumane way and not let them compete and win them instead? No I am not talking about insane often stupid ideas and calling those games but real competitions keeping them in civilized boundaries and not just throw anything out on T.V. screens in the name of modernism and liberalism. Let’s just accept the fact that you don’t have to let go of your civilized manners and decency to entertain audiences.
Why can’t we stop boasting our bridal dresses and move on to something that is a source of education along with entertainment? No, there is nothing wrong with promoting bridal dresses and beauty tips but let’s not make it all about them. Why can’t we invite poets and writers and entrepreneurs and risk takers and people who got talent and who have achievements in their pockets and people who have ideas to make their communities and cities and country better. Let’s for once invite mentors and young people and motivate our people to learn from these people and motivate them to do something with their lives. Surely we have better topics to cover other than ‘Kaala Jaadu’ (I do not simply understand their obsession with this subject). Let’s keep our morning shows simple, healthy and informative.
Why has experimentation disappeared from our dramas, why does innovation only means new sets and new fashion trends and a new form of family politics? Why not explore some other themes, and no not producing marriage dramas does not in any way mean letting go of the family fabrication in our society. Also, let go of the always helpless and always wrong woman and otherwise rude and uncultured woman in the dramas. To fight for one’s own right is not wrong, to wear jeans or Shalwar Kameez or an abaya is a choice and doesn’t define she is wrong. We have strong women who pursued careers while keeping their family fabric intact. Yes, that’s possible. Let’s for once educate our people that gender equality might not be women taking over men but it is also not men domineering women. They both have an equal place in society within their own sets of rights and duties and to belong to either of the genders is not a sin.
Also, I don’t understand why these award shows think experimenting means leaving everything of your own behind and become something that your people cannot relate to. It’s like we are so short on our cultural elements that we have to borrow everything from others from dresses to dances to music to humor and everything else to make sure it’s nothing like us. Maybe we can try experimenting with the wide cultural base that all of our provinces provide us with and come up with something original?
I fall short of words when it comes to news channels, how can someone be so oblivious to their stupidity? On a serious note, dear news anchors there is a certain kind of appeal in decency and not shouting and not announcing every other useless detail as headline news.
Let’s just explore and experiment with something new, keeping it attached and within our cultural reference. Let’s educate and entertain our audience but not exploit the term for the sake of it. Let’s run game shows and debate shows and talk shows and let’s explore all these spheres in terms of themes and topics.
Let’s present problems but somehow conclude them and present a possible solution to them. Let’s stir the revolution we talk about and let’s use our T.V. as a source for directing our youth which constitutes the maximum numbers on a population map of Pakistan at this time. Let’s make our T.V. about Pakistan and for Pakistan.
(This article is based on my personal observation. There are good things happening but I feel they somehow get ignored because of an excess of everything mentioned above. You may or may not agree with my views.)