By Fareeha Qayoom
esterday there was no power outage for three hours straight during the prime time. (Apparently, they made some extra energy because of the glacier meltdown). I got to watch lots of current affairs programs on TV between 8:00 PM to midnight. I hadn’t tuned in for ages…Funnily enough, I hadn’t missed much. It was same old, same old blah, blah, blah…
First, there was Mubasher Luqman’s show on Dunya TV. I must say, it was pretty intense– (I felt like a guilty voyeur for compulsively watching but even then, I wouldn’t let my brother switch channels!). It was a total stand-off at ok corral. I am not even sure who won? The topic of the day was the coming budget and was the government even aware of the misery her policies were causing regular people of Pakistan? Lots of disturbing news footage about three ordinary citizens of Pakistan living the lives of quiet desperation…mixed with an intense diatribe from Luqman and emotional, defensive and irrational outbursts by the two invited guests who were trying to defend their roles as politicians in the sitting government.
Then, there was Mehr Bukhari’s show. Another gloom and doom topic that advised parental guidance. The topic du jour was young suicides and was our society depressed?
After that we moved to Najam Sethi’s show – his talk was about legal and illegal detention by our intelligence agencies and Dr. Afridi’s possible detention for a year before the public display of ‘so-called’ due process.
What seems to be missing from our public discourse is the indigenous, genuine ‘made in Pakistan’ feel-good factor, the positive and happy stuff to balance out the gloom and doom news and happenings being bombarded from virtually all directions.
There is no light relief. They have even taken away cricket from us – (am not even sure who ‘they’ are). The only ray of light nowadays on television for example is ‘Coke Studio’– that’s the only creative, collaborative, feel-good (musical) show that allows (a subsection of) the nation to unite, albeit on the net, over the press and privately at homes. The only other light relief is cookery shows. (No, Indian soaps are not light relief. They cause stress to the watchers too!) The music channels are all showing Indian filmy music which is hardly entertainment – the songs are obviously made as advertisements for movies and have a total commercial purpose. How many commercials can you watch in an hour? It begs the question – is there anything indigenously positive, creatively brilliant watchable happening in Pakistan?
There is a cultural vacuum and no escape from the harsh realities of our lives. You bet we are depressed, manic and suicidal. There is no mystery – you don’t need to do shows to state the obvious. It is simple – input is equal to output. People who have not discovered God or religion, back bone or indeed character (as Haroon Rashid and Senator Mushahid’s suggested remedy for depression in Bukhari’s show) need some peaceful and healthy outlets too.
Citizens should be allowed to let off steam in peaceful healthy ways. There is a lot of hidden anger that comes out when people are protesting on the roads, on television and in the news, but especially when they are protesting against power outages.
The TV producers should do some happy stuff too for prime time. Inciting people to become a mob is not the answer. Allow the people to laugh too – something on the lines of “hum sab Umeed sain hain” for example. I also caught sneak peek of “But tameezian” between commercials – that guy was a brilliant mimic.
Bottom line, why can’t they do more laughs then cries? “Do More” or in other words, “dil mangay or!”