Get­ting Rid of In­dian Crutches

Slogan - - EDITOR'S DESK - Javed An­sari

The ban on In­dian broad­cast con­tent has come as a bless­ing in dis­guise for the Pak­istani film, TV and mu­sic in­dus­tries. This is a re­ac­tion to the un­wel­come treat­ment of the In­di­ans to­wards Pak­istani film and TV ac­tors and mu­sic per­form­ers in all gen­res. Pak­istani au­thor­i­ties have hit back and have banned the ex­hi­bi­tion of In­dian films in Pak­istan, pro­hib­ited the show­ing of In­dian con­tent on Pak­istani TV chan­nels and banned In­dian songs from be­ing played on Pak­istan’s ra­dio chan­nels. This sort of ac­tion and re­ac­tion may not be in the best of tastes and is cer­tainly not wel­come be­hav­iour among two neigh­bour­ing coun­tries whose cul­tures are al­most sim­i­lar. It is a fact though that Pak­istan was forced into do­ing it be­cause the In­dian high-hand­ed­ness came in the wake of a ter­ror­ist at­tack in In­dian Oc­cu­pied Kash­mir, which In­dia al­leged had its roots in Pak­istan. The ex­trem­ist el­e­ments in In­dia re­tal­i­ated against Pak­istan’s so-called role by bring­ing the axe down on Pak­istani ac­tors and per­form­ers. In such cir­cum­stances, Pak­istan had no al­ter­nate but to come down hard on In­dian broad­cast and film con­tent.

This may not be a pleas­ant devel­op­ment in the larger per­spec­tive and is cer­tainly a neg­a­tive ad­di­tion to the al­ready grow­ing panoply of barbs that are be­ing thrown from both sides. Per­haps it was ex­i­gency that had driven Pak­istan to avoid the ‘ban’ sit­u­a­tion for a long time but there came a time when the grow­ing hos­til­ity could be borne no more and Pak­istani bod­ies rep­re­sent­ing the cinema own­ers as well as PEMRA and the FM sta­tions had to act and talk to the In­di­ans in the same coin. They had to be told that their bel­ligerency to­wards Pak­istan was get­ting out of hand and a suit­able re­sponse had to be given. True, the Pak­istani public, the film ex­hibitors, the TV net­works and the mu­sic in­dus­try now feel the pinch and they would have pre­ferred the sit­u­a­tion not to take such an ugly turn but there were not many other op­tions left.

It is true that the Pak­istani en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try is a much smaller one as com­pared to that of In­dia. Even the Pak­istani mar­ket for en­ter­tain­ers and the cinema in­dus­try is small. The losses that Pak­istani ac­tors and per­form­ers have sus­tained in their earn­ings as a re­sult of the ban are big. There were al­ready many Pak­istani ac­tors and mu­si­cians who were ap­pear­ing on the In­dian cinema screen or the mu­sic stage and earn­ing good money. That is why most of th­ese per­form­ers, while mak­ing the right sounds of protest against In­dia’s bel­li­cos­ity, have not re­ally come out with de­fin­i­tive pa­tri­otic ut­ter­ings. Such peo­ple are hop­ing that re­la­tions with In­dia will soon mend, the ban re­moved by au­thor­i­ties on both sides and they would be back to their reg­i­men of high earn­ings. Even cinema ex­hibitors in Pak­istan fol­low a sim­i­lar line of think­ing. For the present, they are sus­tain­ing the big dent ren­dered to their earn­ings but they are not able to earn the kind of money at the box of­fice that they used to gen­er­ate by show­ing In­dian films. It is their con­tin­ued en­deav­our be­hind the scenes that the ban should be lifted as soon as pos­si­ble. Many of them had built large mul­ti­plex cine­mas and equipped them with all the lux­u­ries and ameni­ties be­cause their earn­ings were good and even the view­ing public did not mind pay­ing high en­trance tick­ets be­cause the cine­mas of­fered In­dia-ori­ented films that they could en­joy in lux­u­ri­ous sur­round­ings. Pak­istani films did not come up to their tastes – at least most of the time. The TV chan­nels too, es­pe­cially the ones broad­cast­ing In­dian se­ri­als, had Pak­istani view­ers hooked to the con­tent and though much of it was sheer balder­dash, the TV chan­nels en­joyed high view­er­ships and, in turn, high earn­ings from ad­ver­tis­ing, be­cause the peo­ple wanted more and more of the non­sense.

This is of course not to say that Pak­istani TV drama or film con­tent is any bet­ter. In fact, it is worse but the hope is that if TV se­ri­als and films from In­dia con­tinue to be banned, the lo­cal qual­ity may pick up some­what and the public would get bet­ter stuff. This is the only hope that the Pak­istani TV and film in­dus­tries have. But this calls for th­ese in­dus­tries to im­prove their acts and in­stead of shov­ing low qual­ity down the peo­ple’s throats, they need to im­prove them­selves in a big way in all de­part­ments. At the same time, ac­tors and per­form­ers must come out of their ride of greed and give qual­ity back to their coun­try. If that hap­pens, who knows, In­dian crutches may not be re­quired any­more.

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