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Stooping to new lows

Updated Jul 03, 2017 12:56pm
A low-down of this year’s Ramzan-centric TV shows.

This year’s Ramzan-centric television shows confirmed one thing: channels will stoop (and only stoop) to any level for ratings. The problem is they are fast running out of ideas, and, as a result, this year, apart from the odd controversy, jaded audiences had to make do with mediocre Ramzan offerings and hosts who sleepwalked through the season.

Ramzan Mein Bol

Ramzan shows would not be the same without Dr Aamir Liaquat Hussain hopping around. This time on Bol. In true ALH style the man did the work of three anchors and hosted Ramzan Mein Bol in addition to the Game Show Aisey Chaleyga (‘This is how a game show is run’). The transmission was fuelled by the know-it-all doctor’s trademark mix of self praise, Urdu in an Arab accent, and jibes at the audience.

This year, however, it seemed that age was catching up with the channel-hopping ALH who looked bloated and tired and used too much pancake to cover it all up rather unsuccessfully. And in the true spirit of Ramz…. Sorry... one-upmanship, the grand prize on his game show was an aeroplane. Yes, you heard right. An. aeroplane. Of course, the winner will need a porch to park their personal jet!

Dil Dil Ramzan

This show on Geo Entertainment had all the right elements – celebrities galore, spiritual advice, roohani ilaaj, the works. But it lacked punch. With actors Nauman Ejaz and Bushra Ansari as hosts, the team roped in Shafaat Ali who catapulted to fame last year with his online mimicry of politicians. (Uncanny stuff that was.) Ali became the chota on Dil Dil Ramzan, running around, interacting with the audience and distributing prizes.

However, what could have been a casting coup became a bit of a dud as our chota lacked presence. Nauman Ejaz also stumbled while anchoring, looking ill at ease in his holier-than-thou avatar.

Geo Khelo Pakistan

In an interesting twist, Geo Entertainment also roped in cricketing heroes Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar to host their game show, Geo Khelo Pakistan. The duo is definitely a find and both cricketers definitely enjoyed themselves as they carried the show with humour, easy confidence and plenty of camaraderie. It seems cricketing skills aren’t their only talents!

Shan-e-Ramzan

Still reeling from the tragic death of co-host Junaid Jamshed, anchor Waseem Badami forged ahead by hosting the Ramzan transmission, Shan-e-Ramzan on ARY Digital this year. You may not have agreed with JJ’s take on life; however, the man’s loss was deeply felt on this top-rated Ramzan show even by people who couldn’t stomach some of his more controversial statements.

TV anchor Iqrarul Hasan was roped in to co-host, but the usually energetic Badami wasn’t quite himself this year and frequently peppered his onscreen time with memories of Junaid Jamshed and the late qawwal Amjad Sabri.

Jeeto Pakistan

This game show on ARY Digital starring Fahad Mustafa (he doesn’t just host guys, he wows), continued its successful run. Giving away big, better and more. The show’s philosophy remained the same. If you can blink and breathe, thou shalt win!

Ishq-e-Ramzan

We would have missed TV One’s Ishq-e-Ramzan completely had Sahir Lodhi not infuriated the awam with yet another public booboo. Was it scripted? Was it not? Whatever the case may be, the fact is the man was born to irritate and is living out his destiny through every possible platform: morning shows, radio shows, movies, online rejoinders to his movies and Ramzan shows.

So this Ramzan, while a female participant on his show made a heartfelt and impassioned speech about the state of the county and its women, she called out to the Quaid-i-Azam to witness the state of affairs.

Our man Lodhi, who by now was seething visibly, interjected to create a controversy where none existed. Misunderstanding (deliberately?) what the girl was saying, Lodhi accused her of challenging the founder of the nation and launched into a needless defence of the Quaid. You could almost hear the country groan collectively. A ruse to rake in the TRPs? Probably. The man needs to stop embarrassing himself and us. He also needs to refrain from public life forever. Just refrain. Please.

Ittehad-e-Ramzan

How many permutations and combinations can you play around with when you are picking a name for your Ramzan transmission? The answer to that question is probably more exciting and demands more involvement than watching Shaista Lodhi and her co-host Noor-ul-Hasan on yet another mundane, nondescript show on A-Plus.

And when things got rough in the rating game, Shaista stepped in to cry on cue. You’ll click on the clip when it appears on social media telling you to “Find out what made Shaista cry” won’t you? The only silver lining in an otherwise bleak show were jet setting actors who sent in scenic videos from wherever they chose to fly away from the Land of the Pure during the holy month. There! I’ve said it.

Meanwhile, at least two stars – okay, make that one star, Hamza Ali Abbasi and one starlet, Ushna Shah, made a fuss despite not appearing on their own television shows during Ramzan.

The vocal Abbasi tweeted that he was doing this because he felt the media is not ready to air content that centres on things that he wants to talk about. Was anyone waiting with bated breath for him to appear on the small screen and dazzle us? Remember, last year, the actor’s show was pulled off air for stirring up a hornet’s nest as he boldly tried to discuss the status of the persecuted Ahmadi community, and was promptly banned by PEMRA.

Ushna vented on social media and created more waves than even many Ramzan transmissions by throwing the spotlight on actors (and one female actor in particular) who wear revealing clothes all year round, then don a dupatta to spout religious edicts as Ramzan show hosts, cashing in on religious fervour. (Siblings Shaista and Sahir please take note.) Ushna, fair enough. One question though: Dude, do you really think anyone watches these shows for enlightenment?