A FEW days ago, I attended the Islamabad Literary Festival. I reached right before the session ‘Depiction of woman in Literature and Drama’. The panelists included Haseena Moin, Asghar Nadeem Syed and Shehnaz Shiekh. All three of them are highly respectable and have a name in the field.

The session started with Moin who praised the golden period of PTV and how things were at their best during that era. Then came Syed who started criticising the current state of Pakistani dramas. We as viewers can’t deny that may be these are the lowest times our TV dramas have ever seen. But Syed went on to ramble about how ugly the entire situation is.

Shehnaz Sheikh played it safe. She criticised the ‘golden era’ of PTV by telling everyone how long the working hours were and how little they were paid. She praised the current lot of actors by stating that they were extremely particular about their contracts and payments.

Towards the end, when the question/answer session started, an audience member asked the panelists, what the contributing factors were of a super hit drama serial ‘Udaari’ which created a wave of some awareness among the masses about the child molest cases. After the tragic Zainab rape case, many people thought the drama was an eye opener. But to my amazement, the panelists never saw the serial.

Another participant asked the suggestions they might have on how to improve the sad condition of Pakistani drama industry. It was tragic to see that the three admired panelists were absolutely quiet.

Criticism has become our national hobby. It’s not just so-called experts on news channels at 8pm who monkey around but it has now deep roots in every part of our society. From government to opposition, from media personalities to general public, there is a constant noise and racket of criticism, disapprovals and complaints. We, as a society, can point out the problems but we don’t have any suggestions to improve the situation.

Khizer Idrees


Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2019