Gone are the days when families would sit together and watch Pakistani dramas that used to be a favorite pass-time of the masses. Today what we get to see is not-so-moving storylines that seem to be very much inspired by Indian soaps. Our TV channels without any hesitation are showing things that go directly against our culture and social values.
From pregnancies to abortions, extra-marital affairs to illegitimate children and elopements, we have all kinds of absurd content being shown in our dramas in the name of modern entertainment. Even such respectable relationships are not spared. A guy falls in love with his niece or his daughter’s friend. A girl starts having an affair with her brother-in-law and uses any unfair means to have him as her life-partner. Plus, maids are objectified as sources of physical satisfaction of their male employers. These are only few examples of all the crap today’s generation is being entertained with in form of dramas like Mera Saeen, Maat, Kitni Girhen Baqi Hain, Taer Lahoti, Mujko Khuda Pe Yaqeen Hai, Maaney Na Ye Dil – the list can go on and on. One of such dramas went to the extent of showing an unmarried couple living under the same roof (e.g. Rishtay Kuchh Adhooray Se).
To make things worse, the foreign content – the Turkish dramas dubbed in Urdu language – has also been included to entertain the audience; a low-cost business strategy adopted by our channels. Though we see our artists and directors protesting against the airing of foreign content on our TV channels; which is a much needed-step too, no considerable objection is raised on the declining quality of our own productions. Amidst this declining trend, to see a relevant op-ed coming from one of the young artists of our entertainment industry Juggun Kazim in Express Tribune recently (http://tribune.com.pk/story/642866/magic-box-or-idiot-box/) is quite commendable where she categorically mentions:
“There is the decaying drama industry that seems to focus mostly on the affairs of married people. The stories are awful and the production values are worse. There is little regard for character development…”
There is no sanity in going out of the way for the self-created race of TRPs. Even in the PTV era (when there were no private channels in our country), we had such popular and successful dramas – perhaps more than any drama serial of today – that would have the audience glued to their TV lounges. Dramas like Tanhaiyan, Alpha Bravo Charlie, Aanch, Dasht, Aroosa, Dhuwan, Sitara aur Mehrunnisa, Marvi, Des Pardes, Bandhan etc. are some of the very famous ones of the past. Our dramas of those times were viewed and appreciated not only in Pakistan but also in other countries. This proves that without going beyond our social norms, we can still produce content that is welcomed by a wide variety of audiences.
By following in the footsteps of international media, we are only, intentionally or unintentionally, deteriorating our culture and consequently, losing our own identity. This obsession of competing with something that does not represent us – as far as our social values and culture are concerned – needs to be addressed on urgent basis because it has a direct influence on the mindset of the younger generation which can be quite deteriorating in the current scenario.
The media industry must realize the impact such things can have on our society and hence all those who are associated with this industry have a huge responsibility on their shoulders that makes it mandatory for them to deliver smartly yet elegantly.
Since things are hard to be fixed very soon, one of the immediate steps that can be taken to address the matter is to start having PG ratings for all the shows being aired by our TV channels so that at least the viewers are aware in advance under what category does the program that they intend to watch falls.
They say whoever controls the media controls the mind and hence, controls the culture. Hence, it is in the hands of the people of the society to let the media control their minds, and perceptions or not and ultimately have an impact on the cultures. Also, it makes it essential for the audiences – the grown up category of the masses who are mature enough to differentiate between the right and wrong – to let the members of our entertainment industry know what is acceptable in form of a clear feedback to whatever goes on air on the TV channels. After all, our channels would only air programs as per viewers’ choice and therefore, they probably would be reluctant in getting into the business of something that is so unwelcome by the masses.
PS: This post originally appeared here