Maya's recent on-screen stunt of converting a Hindu boy to Islam depicts not only her desperation for social acceptability but also how her production team is intellectually bankrupt. Hopefully the excited lady won't televise the circumcision of the brand new Muslim
Everyone it seems is either agitated or ridiculing the idea of Veena Malik leading a Ramazan show on a local TV channel. People are equating her with Maya Khan and Aamir Liaqat Hussain. There is a difference between all three and Veena is actually better poised to lead a Ramazan show than the rest of them.
Let us consider the other two. Maya Khan can be described as confused at best, a violence provocateur at worst. She attempts to appease a quasi-imaginary middle-aged, middle-class moral brigade through her holier-than-thou presentations. She once staged a date-catching stunt to enhance her popularity. It backfired. However, she never apologized for violating peoples’ privacy at the public parks (and if they were all paid characters, then for misleading her audiences).
She likes interviewing fake saints, pseudo miracle-reapers and strikes a chord in her viewers’ heart through her “good-girl” rhetoric. Her research skills can be judged from the fact that the miracle-saint she once invited on her show was later arrested for fraud. Maya's recent on-screen stunt of converting a Hindu boy to Islam depicts not only her desperation for social acceptability but also how her production team is intellectually bankrupt and lacks creativity.
After the disfiguring of Ahmediyya worship places, killing of Shias, abduction of Hindu girls in Sindh and burning of Christians, need we further reinforce the idea of Muslim supremacy on TV?
Islam and every other religion is a personal matter. Conversion to any religion/ideology isn't spontaneous. It is a transcendental, sublime process that cannot be televised. Maya will hardly present an excited show if a Muslim embraces Christianity. Perhaps Maya should also raise the question about what happened to Rinkle Kumari. Hopefully the excited lady won't televise the circumcision of the brand new Muslim she discovered.
However, Aamir Liaqat Hussain is an even bigger and much more serious mess. He incited hate/murder against a minority, criticizing their holy figure and beliefs on Geo TV. Within days, two members of this persecuted sect were murdered. He also regularly encouraged killing blasphemy-accused and belittled another sect in a leaked video. This religion-explicating "agony-uncle" is full of sectarian and intolerant oratory, yet his fancy clothing, colloquial Urdu, singing and dialogue delivery makes him a tad bearable unfortunately.
His case is somewhat comparable to Meher Bokhari who interviewed the former governor of Punjab, the late Salman Taseer - and implied that he was in favor of blasphemy. Taseer was later killed because of this imagined "grievance". Both the hosts returned on television with a bang. Apparently, the consequences of public incitement to murder are almost non-existent in Pakistan.
Veena might be as ill-informed as Maya or as in-your-face as Amir, but she isn’t ideologically confused. Instead of attempting to comply by stated (rather than followed) social standards, she remains unapologetically defiant.
Our religious TV has three types of programs. Firstly, the classical preachy ones. Secondly, the ones with scholarly aura whereby the religious scholars answer questions sent by their audiences to seek guidance on the matters of faith. Thirdly, a genre one may describe as Islamo-tainment: cooking, talking, celebrity interviews, music, quizzes and other public interest activities.
The first two categories reflect our public’s lack of reading habits and reliance on the televangelists for religious knowledge. The last category is Islmo-tainment and celebrities seem to have taken over that sector. People probably prefer these semi-religious shows during aftari [dinner to end the fast]and sehri [fasting supper], instead of something irreligious.
In the past, Shahida Mini, Reema, Noor and Nargis have hosted religious shows besides Najam Shiraz, Babar Awan and Junaid Jamshed. Why do we find these people more acceptable in a religious avatar than Veena? Veena has as much claim to Islam as any of the above.
Yes, Veena might be eyeing commercial success as a televangelist but even the most recognized of scholars never comes to the studios for free. They are all paid - and paid relatively generously. Indeed, Veena might be more kind-hearted and upfront than most people we know. Is she not much better than all the closet drunkards, gamblers, homosexuals and criminals who publicly rant against drinking, gambling, homosexuality and fraud? Is Veena not better than the Maya Khan who wears skimpy clothes to parties yet gate-crashes other peoples’ dates, or others who preach hate against one country and then sit in its consulate for free drinks? Isn’t she more reliable than those street protesters who burn vehicles after their paymasters wink?
Veena’s re-emergence on Pakistani screen has invited more vocal critics than Mubashar Luqman and Meher Bokhari. Are we going to forgive bigots and murderers, yet shun someone who has not harmed anyone?
Veena is an innocuous entertainer with immense commercial value. If you dislike her, try to ignore her and let her market value drown naturally rather than give it a boost through a ban or media hype. Sadly, her recent TV venture has been aborted. Yet we hope she will try again. Because let us be honest - some find her annoying, others find her funny, but almost all of us find her intriguing.
|Ammara Ahmad is one of the editors of Viewpoint, she tweets at @AmmaraTiger|