by HIRA SANGI
We rant about talk show hosts – be it any kind, political, infotainment, entertainment and of course those who adorn morning shows. Among these walking talking designer advertisements Shaista Wahidi steals the show. She is by far the most talkative, loud and has the added advantage of being an ambassador for a 'Lawn' manufacturer! Dr. Wahidi has the supplementary quality of cutting off her guests in mid-sentence to start a dialogue of her own, after all it's her show and no one else should be allowed to speak much!
The idea that morning show hosts never let any of their guests complete their sentences was getting a bit overrated, keeping that in mind I got hooked to a recent episode of 'Utho Jaago Pakistan', part of its 'Lahore Lahore Ae' series in which Shaista Wahidi had invited our nation's forgotten heroes. The episode was going beautifully amidst some glitches that are a part of almost all live shows; the guests were an aged Olympian cyclist, Muhammad Ashfaq who is now forced to drive a rickshaw on Lahore's roads; Sultan Muhammad Khan Golden who was once famous for his record breaking stunts on vehicle's; a father-son duo who are immune to snake bites and a band of young boys who created instruments from junk and participated in a contest in Brazil. Pretty Mrs Wahidi was busy painting a bleak picture of Pakistan and why Pakistanis are scorned upon overseas when one member of the band chose to disagree with her. He started telling how they were received by Brazilians and their experience abroad when the host cut him off completely and carried on with her speech! If only she had let her guest talk and share his experience, the show would have been perfect. Her behavior brought me back to the reality that this was after all a masala morning show and we cannot expect the host to behave any differently than she has been all through her career.
The lengths to which hosts go to increase TRP never cease to amuse me. In a recent episode of 'DesiKuriyaan', a turban clad Waqar Zaka was seen dancing on stage with his 'kuris' (the eager female contestants). What made this daredevil show his skills on the dance floor is beyond me but what is even more surprising that the contestants were willing to get up on stage and perform live infront of the whole village. They were then judged and eliminated on the basis of their performance which was even worse than a cattle show!
Another show 'Kaun Banay Ga Meera Patti' took an embarrassing turn as Meera's brother openly said, "She can 'run' with any of the contestants if she wants to". Here, the man was definitely talking about eloping and not running a marathon – now we know where Meera gets her English speaking skills from! What got him to give such a suggestion was the announcement that not one but two contestants would be eliminated, as Meera stood up for her 'Shahdills' her brother suggested she elope with one of them if she wished to! This definitely added to the entertainment factor of the show but the episode was quite embarrassing to watch.
Another show that I recently came across was a travelogue called 'The Greatest Adventure Of Pakistan'. Shows that take you on a trip across the country are quite uncommon these days and this seemed a refreshing change – sadly, not because of its content but because of the nature of the show. Hosted by Omer Saleem, Ali Saleem's more masculine brother and two sidekicks, one of whom seemed to be interested only in food while the other was included only to add necessary humor to the show. The trio has been touring Pakistan and were now in Gilgit ready to camp at places that are not the ordinary route for tourists. It was disappointing to see that the host spoke nothing of the area, its language, culture or people but carried on raving about their supposed near death experience in the jeep.
Moving on towards serials, 'Neeyat' in its second episode and moving at quite a steady pace. With no wild surprises in store for the audience, no punch lines and no unnecessary drama – this seems like a typical Mehreen Jabbar play destined to wow one segment of the audience while boring the rest! The plot thickened a bit but nothing out of the ordinary happened. Sikandar (Humayun Saeed) and Maryam (Deepti Gupta) moved in together and announced their union while Mahira started spreading the news about the end of her relationship with her fiancé. Ahsan feels he can benefit from the situation, little does he know that this is part of a plan. Keeping in view the theme and the fact that 'Neeyat' moves along the lines of 'good intentions gone bad', the couple will succumb to emotional and social pressure and will ultimately break. The upcoming episode will reveal any further advancement, for now the play stands at its positionof being consistently good.
'Mera Naseeb' too is going exceptionally well. Moiz (Imran Abbas) is a man of a very queer nature; he never lets go of his wife Shazia but at the same time leaves no stone unturned to make Nazia realize that she was his first choice. Nazia has her own set of troubles; her mother in law wants a grandson and never misses the opportunity to speak her mind. This drama artfully touches many matters women face in our society. Closed family systems, pressures by in laws, harassment by men at every level and of course the added burden of bearing a son who would carry the family name ahead are some of the issues this play addresses. Although 'Mera Naseeb' seems to be moving at a very slow pace, it is engaging and appeals to everyone. The actors too don't have a lot of work cut out for them since Sumaira Afzal has shown her skills as an exceptionally talented writer leaving little room for error. Samina Pirzada and Sakina Sammon both stand out from the other actors and really have given an excellent performance.
Drama serial 'Akbari Asghari' also seems interesting. The backdrop has now changed to the suburbs of Punjab boasting a hookah smoking 'baba jee' a loud phupho (aunt) and of course lots of domestic animals. Akbari (Sanam Baloch) is hysterical after getting a peek at her husband to be Akbar (Imran Abbas) the two are in no way fit for one another and they know it. Asghar (Fawad Khan), Akbar's younger and more clever brother has other plans in mind, he has no qualms in marrying a modern girl from another part of the world like his elder, more religious brother has. Will the wedding be called off or will Asghar succeed in his plans is the question. 'Akbari Asghari' will definitely mature to be a much more engaging drama.
Speaking of performances, there's one we should all look forward to. Faisal Qureshi is playing 'Chandda' a cross dresser in an upcoming sitcom 'Kis Din Mera Veyah Hoay Ga'. Joining him are Aijaz Aslam, Janan Mallick and Sadia Ghaffar. Aijaz Aslam and Faisal Qureshi showed their synchronized comic timing in the hit 'Main Aur Tum' and the news of a new sitcom with the two of them is uplifting. Janan Mallick too should get some margin to redeem herself from the numerous 'misses' she has been giving. It's a pity to see such a beautiful face giving such lukewarm performances. The diva should not get her hopes up since Qureshi playing the role of a cross dresser would be the one getting all the attention. And Aijaz Aslam would try to direct the rest towards himself. The ladies might just be ignored when the famous pair of 'Main Aur Tum' will collaborate once again. The sitcom is an Asif Raza Mir and Baber Javed production and is directed by Muhammad Iftikhar (Iffi).