The Holy Month of fasting and self-restrain is here. For many Muslims living in Pakistan, the month of Ramzan – or Ramadan, or whatever else you fancy, I won’t judge you, trust me – has a very hallowed feel to it. During these thirty days – increasingly turning into twenty-nine – many of us voluntarily, and many others forcefully, abandon such practices that might be deemed indecent. Why, then, must we be forced to watch Aamir Liaquat on TV – to listen to his attempts at reciting naats, Quranic verses and Hadith with the face that inevitably reminds one of “aam khaye ga”?This is the norm on Aamir Liaquat’s latest Ramzan show, Ramazan Sharif that airs on Geo TV around the time of Sehri (or Saher, or Suhoor, if you like – still not judging you) – still better than his exploits of the past two years.
With such exploits as stuffing a mango up a participant’s face last year, and giving a baby away as a “gift” on his programme, two years ago, I often wonder what Aamir Liaquat has done to win a Ramzan show slot, every single year. I would’ve been better off thinking what he hasn’t done to keep himself off the television screens, but that’s probably not the line along which most of my fellow Pakistanis think.
The media desperately needs to learn the difference between entertainment and visual torture
Jeeto Pakistan presented by Fahad Khan
Another Ramzan show climbing up the popularity charts is ARY Digital’s Jeeto Pakistan. In very honest terms, Jeeto Pakistan is a game show that is trying very hard to have itself passed off as a charity show, and failing miserably. Like any standard game show, Jeeto Pakistan involves a host, a few volunteers, a task that they must perform, and a prize that they must win for performing that task better than the others. Tasks can range between eating as many bananas as possible inside one minute, and wriggling on the floor and shaking continuously as if you have been bitten by a snake – or was that supposed to be a dance? Whatever it was, I can’t seem to locate the connection between that act and Ramzan.
Shan-e-Ramadan by Iqrar-ul-Hassan and Waseem Badami
Not all, it seems, has gone to the devil in the holy month of Ramzan. A show orchestrated by ARY News’ anchors and newscasters, Iqrar-ul-Hassan and Wasim Badami, by the name of Shan-e-Ramzan, is doing something that befits a show aired in the month of giving.
Shan-e-Ramzan – split between Shan-e-Sehr and Shan-e-Iftar – is a lengthy two part programme, with each segment lasting 2.5 hours. This gives the producers the chance to include plenty of elements into the show, however, they choose not to include any segments with vulgar entertainment (ARY effectively achieves that end in Jeeto Pakistan).
The various segments include recitation of the Holy Quran, discussion over queries about Islam with Islamic scholars, a cooking segment with Chef Farah, a cooking competition, an Islamic quiz and naat khwani.
However, the most likeable segment of the show – which, for me, also kindles the true spirit of Ramzan – is the segment that the show’s producers have chosen to call “Naiki”. In this segment, the show’s presenters, Iqrar-ul-Hassan and Waseem Badam, interact with deserving people belonging to various parts of the society. In one show, the two presenters had invited a group of homeless old women who were being taken care of by a private organization, Bint-e-Fatima Old Home Trust (www.bfoldhome.org). It ought to have been an eye-opening experience for those who had never met such people before. The troubles that they go through on a daily basis, the little desires that they have. The personnel of Bint-e-Fatima that was present at the show did not ask people for money, instead they asked them to come and spend time with the residents of their old homes – this, they said, was better than monetary charity.
With a quickly developing history of running odd shows in Ramzan, Pakistan’s electronic media is in a desperate need for learning the difference between entertainment and – quite frankly – visual torture. What makes them link game shows with Ramzan, I still haven’t figured out. But after watching shows like Shan-e-Ramzan, it appears to me that our media does have the ability to air good programmes, and yet it chooses very rarely to. Why? The game shows must be garnering more rating points and, hence, advertisements, after all. Why else would they waste millions on them?
The question then should be redirected to the Pakistani public: why exactly are we watching these game shows and their ridiculous idea of entertainment that has nothing to do with Ramzan? If we choose to watch such shows over their saner, more religious and humanistic counterparts, then, well, we deserve to watch people like Aam-ir Liaquat every morning of all the Ramzans to come.