Old-World Charm of Pakistani TV Channels
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When the charming Sonia Rahman Qureshi conducts her daily interviews on First Blast (Dawn TV) she has an unusual co-host that most programmes across the world sorely lack – time. Since an unusual affection for all things Pakistan has taken over my priorities, it was time for me to study the good, the awkward and seriously insidious that draws me to the burgeoning channels of modern-day Pakistan.
Hearkening back to an era not so long ago when TR and P were merely three consonants, interview-based talk shows of Pakistan retain the old-world charm of a drawing room conversation that draws the viewer in with its humour, insights and relaxed pace. Watching First Blast on Dawn TV or interviews on PTV home and other Pakistani-based channels, a 40-something Indian would be reminded of the very popular interviews that would feature on the state-run channel Doordarshan – one in particular by former child-star Tabassum as she cajoled her celebrity guests into revealing their life story.
Before Pakistanis cry foul and accuse me of handing out a backhanded compliment, let me clarify that the comparison was actually a plea to Pakistani channels to retain the charm and not sacrifice content to Karan Joharesque razzle dazzle.
There is a sameness in television that is troubling. Sameness is a favoured child of globalisation and must be opposed as vigorously as you would trade barriers. While Pakistan must make every attempt to build trade with India, television interviews do not always need a buzzer segment.
From the Golden Girls of Geo TV and Begum Nawazish Ali to the various breakfast shows and a certain male host on PTV home who interviews artists from all walks of life – the common thread is an engaging manner of conducting interviews that is intrinsically Pakistani.
There is less awkwardness now. Breaks between shows seem a little more planned and unless there is an unfortunate bomb blast in some part of Pakistan, programmes are allowed to run their natural course. The ubiquitous ‘ke’ that replaces the English ‘that’ is unfortunately Hinglishness that afflicts the Hindi/Urdu speaking youth of subcontinent.
The awkwardness hardly troubles when we have pure genius. Marrying the subcontinental penchant for giving unsolicited advice with our obsession with celebrity, Mashwara Muft (free advice) hosted by Pakistani actress Sana is a brilliant instance of being comfortable with your cultural moorings.
I promised you the seriously insidious – but I will leave that for a later post. For now, we must laud the good and the brilliant.