- Special Pages
By Azmat Haroon
Doha: With the creative content of Pakistan Television dramas increasingly being controlled by advertisers, the traditional values of the society are harmed for making money, said a veteran Pakistani writer.
“We have good directors, actors and a handful of writers, but they don’t have a clear direction. They have become slaves of sorts to those who can provide them glamour and money,” Amjad Islam Amjad, told The Peninsula yesterday.
Although Pakistani dramas these days are technically stronger than ever before, and popular among a much larger audience, they lack depth, Amjad argues.
“The television industry is so caught up with ratings and advertisements that at times, we are sacrificing the artistic expression,” he said.
The 68-year-old, who worked as a director at Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) from 1975 to 1979, has written some of the most popular Urdu dramas.
“In 1964, when PTV was established, it did not have the glamour that’s associated with television today. Programmes were based on reality. Dramas dealt with issues of daily life, which is why viewers saw a reflection of their lives on TV screens,” he said.
He said that the moralities depicted through television dramas today particularly worry him because of fears that the works of fiction might turn into a frightening reality tomorrow.
“Less than two percent of Pakistani population is ultra rich, and there are even few who would be involved in extra-marital affairs. But all I see in Pakistani dramas today are stories of extramarital affairs or domestic abuse. Somehow, we are trying to make exceptions as the rules for our society,” Amjad said.
The writers are being pushed in the corner- for they no longer have any control over the content of the dramas.
“As strange as it may sound, some production units in Karachi especially instruct their writers to incorporate scenes in which women are being oppressed because that raises TV ratings. In the old-age dramas, we never had cases of husbands hitting their wives,” he explained.
The problem, for which we have PTV to blame partly, is that ‘we could not institutionalise liberal arts’, said the recipient of Sitarae-Imtiaz and Pride of Performance award, one of the highest civilian awards conferred by the government of Pakistan.
“We did not establish academies or programmes for actors and directors. Because the actors and directors some 40 years ago learned through the trial and error method, they left the generation that followed them in the same way,” he said, adding there is a growing need for quality control.
Amjad, who also served as the Director of Curriculum for the Punjab Textbook Board, was here as the chief guest for the “Third Ambassadors’ Trophy Debate Championship”, organised by the Ehsas organisation.