Radio’s timeless relevance

September 10, 2023

Muhammad Javed Pasha’s chronicle of 75 years of radio drama in Pakistan

Radio’s timeless relevance


riter A Hameed once said that a person’s voice reveals their true soul and character. Radio is the perfect medium, bringing out the most authentic picture of anything. In today’s fast-paced digital age, where streaming platforms and social media dominate the airwaves, it’s easy to overlook the enduring significance of an older medium like radio. We often forget that the humble radio has been a cornerstone of communication and entertainment for over a century. From its pivotal role in emergency broadcasting to its unique ability to connect communities and provide a platform for diverse voices, radio plays a vital part in shaping our society and culture.

Veteran radio drama writer and columnist Muhammad Javed Pasha has meticulously documented the rich history of Radio Pakistan, with a special focus on the Lahore station, in his recently released book Radio Drama kayPachattarSaal (75 years of Radio Drama). Pasha comes from a literary family. His father, NazimPanipati, was a poet, author and songwriter. His uncle, Wali Sahab (Wali Mohammad Khan), was a filmmaker, director and lyricist who wrote the famous naat,Paighamsabalaihaigulzar-i-nabi say in 1937.

Muhammad Javed Pasha has been writing drama and feature programmes for Radio Pakistan for more than 25 years.He has more than 150 drama credits to his name. Recently, Radio Pakistan recognised honoured as an Outstanding Drama Writer, the highest cadre previously graced by luminaries such as Ashfaq Ahmad and Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi. He writes about how, regardless of their financial situation during his early childhood, two things were constantly present in his household: newspapers and radio.

This book serves as a valuable resource for archiving the history of our institutions. In today’s fast-moving world, we are losing touch with the roots of these mediums. The author takes us back to the early days of radio when it was introduced to the subcontinent by the British in 1936, with Delhi hosting the first local station. The Bukhari brothers (ZA Bukhari and Ahmed Shah Patras) led the movement, and at one point, it was referred to as the BBC or Bukhari Brothers’ Corporation. Their contributions are integral to the history of radio in the subcontinent.

The author makes the case that radio in India was introduced for the same reasons as the establishment of Fort William College and communication infrastructure like the postal service and railway. The primary goal was to advocate and protect British interests and cater to their needs, such as recruiting for the army during World War II.

This book serves as a valuable resource for archiving the history of our institutions. In today’s fast-moving world, we are losing touch with the roots of these mediums.

The book takes us back in time, teaching us how Pakistan inherited three radio stations – Lahore, Peshawar and Dhaka – in 1947. One of the most iconic moments in the country’s history is the midnight announcement by Mustafa Ali Hamdani, stating, “Yeh Radio Pakistan hai, Apko Pakistan Mubarak ho.” The logo of Radio Pakistan was designed by renowned artist AbdurRehmanChugtai. Khawaja Khursheed Anwar composed its signature tune. The medium peaked in popularity from the 1960s to the 1980s, especially during the 1965 war when more than 70 songs were written, composed, sung and released in 17 days. Today, the country has more than 36 stations. Legendary artists such as Ashfaq Ahmad, ApaShamim, Mehdi Hasan, Saleem Gillani, Mirza Sultan Baig, Sultan Khoosat, Khawaja Khursheed Anwar, A Hameed, Ghayyur Akhtar, Jamil Fakhri, Rehana Siddiqui, Qavi Khan, Shujaat Hashmi, Asim Bukhari and Khalid Abbas Dar, among others, have contributed to the success of Radio Pakistan. Ashfaq Ahmed was the mastermind behind one of the most popular programes of all time, Talqeen Shah, which ran for 46 years until his death.

Pasha, one of the country’s most experienced radio drama writers, brings his expertise to the book. He describes how radio drama is written for people who cannot see, requiring the creation of entire scenarios through voice acting supported by background audio effects. The voice is responsible for conveying all feelings, from happiness to sadness. There are no sets or makeup to assist; instead, it relies solely on the power of voices to transport the audience to different settings. He also emphasises the importance of selecting the right names for his characters, as they also play a crucial role in setting the context. An intriguing anecdote comes from when he wrote a play called Goonga, in which the main character could not speak but assisted the police in solving a murder.

In the end, Pasha makes a compelling case for why radio is still relevant today and how, with ample government support, we can utilise this medium to educate, entertain and inform the masses. In addition to archiving the history of Radio Pakistan, the book serves as an excellent guidefor new drama writers looking to learn and excel in this field.

Radio Drama

kay Pachattar Saal

Author: Muhammad Javed Pasha

Publisher: Abu Musa PDF Printers Lahore

Pages: 192

Price: Rs 500

The writer is a digital communication expert and consultant working in the public sector. He is the mastermind behind the digital platforms Sukhan, Mani’s Cricket Myths and Over The Line

Radio’s timeless relevance