Thursday June 20, 2024

‘In media, the traditions set in yesteryears lost’

Veteran actor Talat Hussain says media’s responsibility is to provide knowledge to masses, broaden their horizons, even if the medium is through entertainment

By Ebad Ahmed
November 09, 2015
Clearly the vast number of participants for the session called “Media and the Metropolis” at the Karachi Conference on Sunday showed that it was the most anticipated event of the day. Probably it was the presence of distinguished theatre and drama artiste, Talat Hussain, who is famous for speaking in a no-holds-barred demeanour. Expectedly, Hussain lived up to the audience’s expectations.
At the auditorium of the Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi – packed seats with students, academicians and civil society activists - the veteran actor kicked off his speech saying that in his childhood he usually felt uncomfortable hearing the clichéd, “Haan bhai… bas qayamat qareeb hai [Yes brother, the day of judgement is almost upon us]”, from the elders whenever they came to know about untoward action of anyone.
“But today I am compelled to say that given the state of the media and their impact on the society, yaqeenan qayamat qareeb hai [the day of judgement is indeed near].”
The senior actor in his speech, focused on the media’s impact on the society.
He said the culture and traditions that were kept preserved by his seniors in radio and on television were not being followed by present media professionals.
“Working in radio was like going to any senior figure of the family,” he said. “Our seniors in radio and on television ensured that a person was credible enough before launching them as a presenter.”
Criticising the primetime talk shows in the country, he poised a question to the participants, “Have we ever seen the shows presenting any consensus to the public?”
When the participants collectively answered no, he continued, “It’s nothing but cockfighting which we present to our viewers. Is it healthy for our society?”
He said the responsibility of the media was to provide knowledge to the masses, broaden their horizons, even if the medium was through entertainment. “What we are seeing today isn’t even entertainment; in fact, it’s cheap entertainment.”
Hussain held TV channels responsible for the moral degradation in the society.
In his reply to a participant’s question, he sternly remarked, “We have not learnt to respect professionals.”
Speaking on the occasion, Asif Ansari, a renowned producer, shared a brief history of the state television with the audience.
His narration of the Ayub Khan`s sacking of the PTV’s then general manager, ZA Bukhari, on the grounds of the sarcasm in a show, “Janwiro aur Parindo Ka Mushaaira” in which an owl was given the role to preside it, left the audience in a laughing fit.
Ansari, while dilating the PTV history, also revealed that the remarkable novel, ‘Udaas Naslain’ by maestro Abdullah Hussain was stopped during production on the grounds of its tilt towards “radical politics”.
Dr Asif Farrukhi, a prominent writer and literary figure, quoted Prof Sehar Ansari`s verse, “Tamheed-e-kamaal hotay hotay, takmeel-e-zawal hogaye hum [In search of greatness, I brought upon my downfall]”.
“The PTV’s case is just like Islam, we only talk about its glowing history,” he said. “What we need to look at is why did the state television was not able to maintain its standard.”
Speaking to The News, Aliya Naqvi, an organiser of the Karachi Conference, said though the execution of the conference was not an easy task, but going by the response, it successfully managed to engage the youth of the city.
“Our aim is to open a conversation about the real issues of Karachi through academic discussions.”
Khawar, a teenager who had come to the conference from the Malir district, said the event was a real treat for him as not only was it knowledgeable, but had also remained focused and interesting for young people.