For those who have grown up watching Tauseeq Haider anchoring television shows, digesting the current situation of hosts and hosting becomes a difficult task. Not only eloquence, but an eloquence coupled with decency is what best describes Tauseeq, who also stays true to his profession by presenting himself as capable of single-handedly steering shows in the right direction without having to invite a crowd on the set. Another thing which sets Tauseeq Haider apart from other anchor-persons is his work in the most creative areas of television hosting, some of which have the tendency to take by surprise even the modern viewer. I caught up with the veteran anchor-person and asked him a few questions, which are as follows.
Muhammad Ali: You have been working for so many years and on various mediums. Your energy level never goes down. What keeps you motivated and inspired?
Tauseeq Haider: I consider myself fortunate enough to have lived three to four lives in one life; of a public communication trainer, of a business-man, and of a radio and television host. All these professions came with their respective challenges and kept me active. They never allowed me to get bored or feel that my life is monotonous. While interviews have always kept my curiosity piqued, the other fields I have worked in also gave me a new task to perform every day, different from the tasks performed earlier. I have always been made to realize that every day is a new day, and requires an updated level of energy. Multi-tasking, therefore, is something which has never let me feel down.
M.A.: According to you, colours and masks define the various facets of your personality. What is that one other thing around you to which you relate the most?
T.H.: Nature! I hold cats and dogs very dear to me, and am extremely fond of trees, so many of which surround my dwelling as well. For my office too, I picked up a place where I could stay close to trees, since I can relate to them a lot. There were also days when I used to spend a lot of time with the moon and the stars, which I badly miss. In-fact, this question has made me realize that I should revert to their company and restart spending more and more time with them. Yes, a few people might term it as an inclination backed by craziness, but in order to evolve as a good human being, you need to connect more with nature and animals rather than fellow humans alone.
M.A.: We as viewers see anchors as very confident and articulate people. Tell us something about the effort that goes into the art of anchoring behind the camera?
T.H.: In my opinion, what is required for a good anchor or a good show-host is the capacity to listen. The quality of being a good listener is something I believe to be lacking immensely in the anchors of our times. When I look at anchors, I find them to be articulate and well-researched, but what they do not possess is the ability to listen to the other person. They are more concerned about their next question. Being articulate with a sprinkling of confidence is no doubt good, but you cannot be a good anchor until you lend an ear to the person sitting before you. The other good quality which an anchor should have is the habit of book-reading, which apparently may not seem to be directly related to speaking or hosting, but is extremely important. Good editing is also what goes into the making of a good anchor. An anchor should know where the discussion is going and how to tackle an objectionable conversation or an unpredictable situation while on air. He or she should know what to say, but knowing what not to say is also a prerequisite. Stopping at the right point, even if it is at the climax, matters a lot.
M.A.: You have done various kinds of shows; game shows, one-man shows, award shows, talk-shows, kids’ shows, election transmissions and telethons. What have you enjoyed the most and why?
T.H.: I believe in not only taking an interview but also in having a good conversation – which I always try to have with my guest. This is only possible when the person that you have invited over feels comfortable with you. That again, is my job. My interview does not start with the commencement of the show. It begins the moment I meet my guest on the set. Those initial few minutes are the ones in which I put my guest on the right track for having a candid, two-way conversation. I have been following this trick since the inception of my career. This inclines the guest to step out of shyness and hesitation and let his or her heart out instead. This also helps me in building a real-time conversation instead of formulating a set of questions. Another thing which I extremely enjoy is conversing with kids. With kids, I become a kid. If you see me talking to a six-year-old, I would be talking to him or her like a six year old. If you give me a thirteen year old boy to talk to, I would become a young teenager. My interaction with children creates my best moments as an anchor, and that is something which my audience also enjoys the most.
M.A.: Few people know that you have been into direction and production as well. Name a production of yours which you hold very dear to your heart.
T.H.: Yes, I have made multiple shows and documentaries. As the team lead of Black Box Sounds, I got a chance to work with a lot of amazing young directors, and it is hard to separate what I have done independently from what I have done with my team. However, The Story of a Banyan Tree is one directorial work to my credit of which I am very proud. I co-directed it with Aftab Abbasi while Irshad Ali Khan acted as its executive producer, both of whom contributed a lot to that documentary. I would also like to mention Dr. Kamran Ahmed, who was the researcher, narrator and script-writer for it. In that documentary, we have endeavoured to capture thousands of years of history around the religions of the Indo-Pak region. I believe that such documentaries should be shown to our youth, especially to the university-going lot. Also, Dil Say Pakistan was one project which I hosted on PTV, produced by Black Box Sounds. It was a travelogue that depicted the lighter and brighter side of Pakistan. I simply loved doing it.
M.A.: What was the objective behind the creation of Black Box Sounds and what purpose does it serve?
T.H.: It is one of the leading development communication companies and documentary film production houses in Pakistan. I co-founded it along-with Irshad Ali Khan. The idea behind its creation was to break the stereotypes and bring to an end the conventional style which was being followed in the development sector, especially in the area of communication. Since I call my team members story-tellers, we wanted to bring modern production styling in story-telling. This was the vision with which we began. It has been fifteen years since its formation, and in these fifteen years, I have seen a lot of companies emerging with the same idea which we conceived more than a decade ago. Black Box Sounds acted as a trail-blazer by creating a new genre of development communications.
“When I look at anchors, I find them to be articulate and well-researched, but what they do not possess is the ability to listen to the other person”
M.A.: You love story telling and you love animals. You must be in love with children’s literature, then. And if not, then what is your favourite area in reading?
T.H.: That’s a difficult question to answer, because I read anything and everything that comes my way. I am not one of those people who choose and pick what to read and what not to read. A good read is a good read to me, regardless of the genre it belongs to.
M.A.: You have been an active participant at literary festivals as well. A few scholars believe that we have less of literature and more of pompous literary festivals. Do you agree? What has been your experience?
T.H.: Ever-since we have become dependent on gadgets, our younger generation has started forgetting what a book smells like. You do get everything at the palm of your hand now, but a mobile or an e-book can never replace an actual book. The new generation is more into seeking information and less into imbibing knowledge. That is why I think literature festivals are important; in order to introduce the younger generation to not only books and writers, but also to other forms of art including theatre, story-telling and poetry etc. So, I am all for having literature festivals, also in the comparatively smaller cities and on a regular basis.
M.A.: What message would you like to give to aspiring anchors?
T.H.: My message would be: Read, read, and read! Listen, listen, and listen!
M.A.: Is there anything that you would want to change in your life story?
T.H.: No. I believe it’s a very well-written story. I would not change even a single thing if given a chance to rewrite it. I am one of those people who enjoy every moment and live life to the fullest. I have loved my life in the past, I love it as it is, and I will continue to love it till my last day. Mine has been a unique, beautiful screenplay which I fully cherish.
Muhammad Ali is an M.Phil scholar and a former visiting lecturer at GCU, Lahore. His interest lies in indigenous literature: the specific research areas being Partition novels, Environmental Literature emerging from South Asia and classical and contemporary Pakistani television drama. His research on Sahira Kazmi’s “Zaib un Nisa” which was a part of his graduation thesis has been presented on various platforms including Olomopolo Media. This interview is a part of a series of interviews in which various Pakistani celebrities including writers, actors and directors will be asked questions regarding their professional work. The writer can be reached at email@example.com.