The speakers of a session at the Focus Pakistan Conference pointed out on Sunday that regional languages were missing in films, TV and radio.
The session, one of the nine held on the last day of the conference focusing on digital media, radio and television, was moderated by actor Seemi Raheel and actors Hameed Sheikh and Ajab Gul and director Syed Noor were its panellists
“When forces invade any region, they make sure to take away the language of its inhabitants and impose their own because language is synonymous to identity,” Raheel said at the beginning of the session.
“We as a nation experienced this when we were colonised and we can see its effects as our generations feel comfortable in conversing in English as opposed to Urdu or any regional language,” she added.
However, it was odd to see that while she encouraged all to own their languages she severed ties with all languages spoken in the Subcontinent. The panel was supposed to cater to four regional languages, Sindhi, Punjabi, Balochi and Pashto, but the panellist supposed to speak for Sindhi did not show up.
Sheikh said the PTV Quetta was in a sorry state of affairs because the State was not paying attention to it: “There are 350 employees there, and over 98 percent of the budget is used to pay them. The rest is then allocated for the actors who contribute through Balochi and Hazargi content.”
He notes that the actors who had won the Pride of Performance awards and had worked in films like Moor and Dukhtar were not small-time ones; rather their talent could be used to promote indigenous films.
Speaking about Pashto cinema, Gul said merely four languages were considered regional while there were many more languages spoken in Pakistan. In an attempt to figure out the problem, Noor said nobody owned their language: “Instead of distancing ourselves from our languages, we should promote them with pride. Pashto cinema remained alive because the moviegoers sustained it, and the same can be said for the Punjabi cinema which has been going for 20 years.”
Gul said Pushtuns loved their music and films and even after a lot of bloodshed in the region did not let it die. “Indian cinema can’t thrive in our province because it fails to deliver Pashto music or acting which is why we don’t feel threatened by their presence,” he added.
Noor said even Urdu was being replaced by English, and if we think people would be unable to understand films in regional languages, then we could always use sub-titles in Urdu or another language instead of being too apprehensive about the matter.
Raheel said it could not be said with assurance that the cinema in Pakistan had revived as movie theatres that catered to the people who spoke indigenous languages were yet to be filled.
The conference was organised by the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industries.