Pakistani TV today: Can we go beyond ratings?
Apart from the exaggerated dialogue delivery and fascination with shaadis, Pakistani TV and Bollywood have another thing in common; the fact that both industries follow trends rather than making them.
Film-makers started chasing Salman Khan after he gave a couple of hits and became a box office wonder. Similarly, most of our drama producers of are seen chasing cliched, done to death themes just because they result in high ratings. Be it extramarital affairs or unrequited love, the recycling of themes in Pakistani industry is all too apparent. Commerce is a good argument for making whatever sells, but the bigger question is, why don’t producers research further into these issues which have suddenly become so popular? This mentality is promoting orthodoxy and above all leading to a lack of innovation on the television.
The 6 pm to 9 pm or 7 pm to 10pm time period is known to be the prime time slot in Pakistan, which is essentially the time when the woman of the house took charge of the remote control. PTV took the initiative and provided us with the 8 pm drama slot that still gives
channels the highest ratings (exceptions would include Aamir Liaquat doing a religious show right after videos of his controversial backstage behavior leaked out ). This is the time slot when the major competition begins as every channel tries to grab the viewer’s attention by showing dramas that revolve around issues similar to the ones faced by the lady watching them.
Hum TV, ARY and other entertainment channels reign this slot as they are known for popular sitcoms, serials and soaps such “Humsafar”, “Kash Mai Teri Beti Na Hoti”, “Mehmoodabad ki Malkain”, “Khushboo Ka Ghar” and “Dareechay”. Sitcoms like “Bulbulay” gave Hina Dilpazeer the best role of her career and made her the most popular actor on TV today, this shows why producers strive so hard to please audiences.
Who are the players?
Behind every television drama is a team consisting of writers and directors trying hard to satisfy our thirst for entertainment. Humayun Saeed’s Sixth Sigma, Abdullah Kadwani and Humayun Saeed’s 7th Sky, Babar Javed and Asif Raza Mir’s A&B Productions and Hum TV’s exclusive production house Momal productions are the market leaders.
Dearth of innovation
Despite the number of entertainment channels, by in large the TV industry hasn’t managed to set any new trends. A testimony of that is the lack of youth oriented programming and the absence of a consistent Pakistani series with multiple seasons. Programmes like “Teen Bata Teen”, “Shashlik” and later on “Ishrat Baaji” managed to do something for the youth and created their own following, but sadly no one followed their lead.
“Dreamers” — that aired earlier this year — on the other hand managed to bag 47,000 fans on Facebook after airing for only one season, which suggests that there is a demand to which the producers are not catering to.
The absence of a continuous Pakistani series is due in part to the shortage of a talented team of writers, who can carry on a series for seasons. No one knew that morning shows could get a major chunk of audience in the earlier half of the day until Nadia Khan chalked out a new trend. Today, every news channel from KTN to Hum TV has its own morning shows. The hosts of these shows keep changing but the
programme appearance and candid Q&A format stays the same. Some tried bringing underprivileged children and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) too, but that didn’t work out. From celebrating
mehndis to setting up summer camps on the sets, channels have tried it all haven’t been able to bring about a in format as yet