Monday, December 17, 2012

Saving the Pakistani drama

Nowadays Pakistani media industry is criticizing the airing of dubbed soaps on the local TV channels. They say that our local drama industry will be destroyed as these foreign plays will replace the domestically produced dramas if the matter is not taken care of. Specially they will occupy the prime-time hours which have a significant history of showing us some of the finest Pakistani dramas that gained popularity not only in Pakistan but abroad as well. Last night, I saw a talk show on a news channel in which celebrities from our drama industry were invited to discuss this issue. I was deeply touched by a statement of the famous actor, Faysal Qureshi. He said, 'I'm very surprised to see that we need to explain it to people to give priority to the Pakistani dramas'. That is the point. Apart from the debate about the quality of our dramas. We should have a patriotic feeling about our TV dramas. At least it is something of our own, of our own country. It belongs to us.   

Pakistani drama industry has a dignified and glorious past of producing the unsurpassed dramas like 'Dhoop Kinaray', 'Tanhaiyaan', 'Chand Girhan', 'Dhuan', 'Alpha-Bravo-Charlie' and the list goes on. These plays were famous for creating a pin-drop silence on the streets. Even in the recent past we saw some noticeable plays like  'Manay Na Ye Dil', 'Qaid-e-Tanhai', 'Meri Zaat Zarra-e-Benishan' etc. The DVDs of the aforementioned and many other plays were interestingly seen overseas not only by Pakistani expatriate community but other nationalities also. Pakistani dramas are also shown in the acting schools of the neighboring country as inspiration.

There was a period when an attempt was made by the Indian TV channels to invade this industry through their low-quality soaps that had weak concepts and senseless stories. Those dramas left negative impact on our society such as hatred, jealousy, greed and revenge. These behaviors entered our houses and females of our country were largely affected. These substandard plays also influenced the fashion sense of our people. Honestly, I never saw a man wearing a shocking pink embroidered suit before. 

Then enters the dubbed plays. Urdu1 ventured into dubbed programming with a Turkish soap 'Ishq e Mamnu'. Pakistanis loved the Urdu-speaking ladies of the Bosphorus and the play went viral as far as the ratings are concerned. For channels, this is a jackpot. With minimal production cost, just buy foreign content, dub it in Urdu and you are good to go. I've read some arguments on the web that dubbed programming is a common feature of primetime across the world. I say, this might be a trend worldwide but the countries where this practice is followed might not have their own quality content. Pakistan is a different case. Pakistan has a legacy of producing good quality dramas. From writers to actors, from producers to directors, Pakistan has a vast variety of talent which is increasing day by day. We don't need any foreign content to amuse our television viewers. I agree that there are some shortcomings in our dramas but those deficiencies could be fixed. 

I'm not against the screening of foreign content of on our local TV channels. People like change and I agree with that. But, it should be controlled, it should be limited. The prime-time should be reserved for the original Pakistani drama only. We should also keep in mind that local production of the drama is also connected to our economy. A huge number of people are associated with this industry. Display of too much foreign content on TV channels will ruin the careers of people (including many labor and low category technical staff) associated with the drama industry. Let us save our drama industry from foreign influence before it is too late.

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