|Crossing That Fine Line
by HIRA SANGI
Amidst all the Bollywood lovers, there are some who hate the entity. Be it the whole 'masala' movie concept, the idea of song and dance in an otherwise serious story or the way a particular actor or director works; when you put your creation infront of the whole world to see, scrutinize and decide whether it is good enough or not, little things matter.
There are those who would bow down to their favorite actor and there are those who spit venom at the most petty of mistakes. No matter what the case you can count on Indian showmen to capitalize on criticism and that is just what they do in the show titled 'Love To Hate You'. This show is all about changing perceptions and opinions of those who do not like or rather abhor the work of a famous celebrity by showing them exactly how the film industry operates.
Among the few episodes I happened to see on Star World, one featured a girl, roughly in her twenties who absolutely despised the work of director Madhur Bhandarkar. The showman is famous for his movies like the Priyanka Chopra starrer 'Fashion' and is known for his unconventional choice of subjects to portray as movies. This girl however had serious issues with Bhandarkar's direction and never hesitated to openly criticize him whenever she got the opportunity. The host Arjun Rampal along with the director in question both set on a mission to tell their side of the story.
The episode showed how Madhur Bhandarkar worked, how he conceptualized situations and set about filming them. For the movie buffs or those who aspire to work behind the camera, this particular show had a lot to teach. The lady was given the opportunity to rehearse a scene with Arjun Rampal and play Kareena Kappor's part which satisfied her for the most part and she was convinced that the showman had film making skills that she ignored while watching his movies. Madhur Bhandarkar might have won over his critic through patience but choreographer/director Farah Khan faced her faultfinder in a completely different manner. In another episode, Khan was met with a man who said that 'Tees Maar Khan' had nothing good to offer. He went on texting his friends telling them to avoid spending their money on buying tickets to a 'horrible' movie. Farah Khan confronted him right then and there refusing to take criticism in good spirit. The woman was in no mood to stand there and watch someone talk negatively about her pet project and her loud, arrogant behavior was enough to silence this young critic!
'Love To Hate You' is an entertaining way to kill time but does not offer anything worthwhile. It negates the right that people have to voice their own thoughts and carry their own individual opinions by persistently trying to change one faultfinder's stance. I might not like a particular director's work and may have no particular reason for it. I might even ask my friends and family to avoid watching a particular movie; would the director then shout at me for trying to persuade others?
Since we are talking about forced persuasion, Ayesha Khan is doing her bit of the same in the promotional clips of 'Kaafir'. This is among the many times we have seen her star opposite Humayun Saeed and these two together have become quite unappealing. Humayun Saeed has been doing type casted roles in the past few dramas he has starred in. Seems like this actor's urge to experiment and act in more ways than one has finally weakened. We saw him take shape of a serious banker lost between two women in 'Neeyat', in another drama in which Ayesha Khan starred opposite him, Humayun was a controlling Baloch Sardar. His character in 'Kaafir' seems to be of more or less the same corrupt, controlling, serious man who would be confronted by Ayesha Khan. Monotonous roles is the most prominent dilemmas of the largely female oriented television shows we have in Pakistan where although the leading lady may have many shades to her character, the male actors are usually the same. The only trending actor who has defied this unwritten rule is Faisal Qureshi who has proven time and time again that he is the best chameleon the entertainment industry has!
Monotonous characters and limited choice is this season's theme. If one actor finds success in a particular kind of role, directors start flooding him / her with offers entirely similar to the previous one. Amina Shaikh is an apt example of the same. The actress has proved that she can strike a pose infront of the camera for mind boggling, beautiful photos and be as convincing on television as well. We saw her in every other drama and loved her in each one. A striking resemblance however emerged soon; in every one of her plays, Amina played the character of a middle class girl who fits the description of a perfectly pious, stereotypical Pakistani female on the brink of a crisis. Either her love life goes wrong or she falls prey to hasty decisions made by her family – we saw this in 'Umm-e-Kulsoom', the same thing happened in 'Bhaag Amina Bhaag', then 'Ek Hatheli Pe Hina Ek Hatheli Pe Lahu', she is facing the same situation in 'Maat' and 'Kuch Kami Si Hai'… expect the same in 'Mora Piya', which will be starting soon.
The Islamic year has started and brought about a change in the morning shows that we had not seen before. Like Ramadan, when the hosts turned sober and started wearing white, this is the first Muharram where the same women who flaunt their perfect smiles in bright red lipstick are wearing all black and taking on the roles of preachers. The holy month requires respect no doubt but seeing these shows change shape and take on a role that is quite contrary to what they show all year round is quite amusing. Juggun Kazim has been sitting pale faced with muftis while Urooj Nasir adorns a new designer 'abaya' in black each day. Lavish expensive abayas do not symbolize mourning. Isn't this the exact opposite of what is being preached in her show? Only the ladies themselves can answer that.
Talking about trends and prevalent practices, I cannot ignore the choice of clothes for models in commercials. Yes, I am talking about a mint chewing gum advertisement featuring actress/model Saba Qamar in which she adorns a not-so-conservative gown. Now I know that we cannot stay behind and talk about such petty issues but when such a commercial pops up twenty times in between a family drama at prime time, you do have to speak up for something that might not be acceptable to most Pakistani families. Choice of clothes is important, be it drama, theatre or commercials and knowing your viewer, it is best that these choices be made appropriately.
Another show that needs to make appropriate choices is the controversial 'Bigg Boss' that has been known for bringing in celebrities who have fairly interesting stories of their own. A recent addition to the house of Bigg Boss is an Indian-American artist Sunny Leone who is shying away from revealing her true line of work from her house mates. The decision to bring her in has been criticized in India and the channel might be facing dire consequences but keeping in view the shows history, we can safely infer that producers will find a way out emerging as clear winners in terms of TRP. The same might not be possible in Pakistan however since a local television channel has purchased airing rights to the show and if the episodes are aired, there will most definitely be fury among the average viewer. The team at 'Bigg Boss' needs to set their priorities straight, there is a fine line between entertainment and obscenity.