Aurora Magazine

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Published in Nov-Dec 2014

Talking the talk

A review of the year’s most talked about talk show hosts.

No one can quite tell what the next crowd-pleaser will be when it comes to entertainment television. As the viewership of entertainment software picked up, TV show hosts took centre stage to bask in the spotlight this year. From festive game shows to morning extravaganzas to gigs on franchised shows, here is a rundown of who rocked it and who hogged it.

Fahad Mustafa on Jeeto Pakistan

In a show that gives away cars and motor bikes ridiculously easily (open a door/eat/skip/mimic to win) and throws free cell phones into the bargain, who gets to hog the limelight? The extravagant prizes or the flamboyant host of the show? Fahad Mustafa made sure no one and nothing distracted him from propelling Jeeto Pakistan and himself right to the pinnacle of Pakistan’s popularity charts. The game show, which started airing twice a week on ARY Digital in May 2014, picked up in earnest in the post-iftar slot every day during Ramzan; and went on to rock the ratings by breaking viewership records for entertainment software. For once the game show’s tag line really meant it, when it proclaimed ‘Sab le jao’. The actor, producer and Hum TV’s formerly sedate morning show host surprised everyone with his adrenaline-fuelled Jeeto avatar on ARY Digital. The atmosphere turns electric as Mustafa zips around a prize-laden set, yelling (and losing his voice) looking for the lamest of excuses to give away grams of gold, vehicles, gadgets and other treasures. The only thing that makes him pause is the opportunity to woo the audience some more with his trademark thaki tikki thaa jig.

Waseem Badami and Junaid Jamshed on Shaan-e-Ramzan

The chemistry between the glib talking Waseem Badami and the born-again (preachy?) Junaid Jamshed, continued to lift ARY Digital’s Ramzan transmission, Shaan-e-Ramzan, until it reached TRP-heaven this year. The duo’s popularity gave Aamir Liaquat Hussain (erstwhile poster child of Ramzan transmissions) sleepless nights and made his team at Express Entertainment carry out flustered misfires, such as the tasteless aam khayega segment in a bid to grab eyeballs. None of which of course made a dent in the Badami-Jamshed armour as both went on to do a post-Shaan-e-Ramzan show during which they discussed their special chemistry. Akin to killing a joke with the explanation. It didn’t matter that Jamshed often made embarrassingly regressive comments on live TV (some of which pushed women’s causes back a couple of centuries) or that Badami couldn’t help his snide remarks about the intellect of some of the audience members who attempted the quiz questions, TV viewers just lapped up whatever this golden duo dished out in the name of religion and entertainment. However, chinks in the Shaan-e-Ramzan armour have appeared, as smooth talking Badami moves to a rival channel, amidst charges of corruption at ARY.

Aamir Liaquat Hussain on Pakistan Ramzan

How many lives does this man have? And has he used them all up? Dr Aamir Liaquat Hussain may have harvested the TRPs for his new bosses at Express Entertainment, but a fake jungle theme for a set? A mock elephant and a stuffed tiger? In Ramzan? Seriously? A few days into his Ramzan transmission, it became clear that the good doctor is resting on past laurels and desperately needs to reinvent himself if he is to stay in the game. His frustration with his crew and with himself became increasingly evident in front of the camera during the marathon shows. Eventually the team stooped to gimmickry and ended up creating a mango-eating sequence that went viral, but achieved little else in the face of ARY Digital’s superior offerings. This was the year the job-hopping doctor was reduced to fire-fighting on home territory and he did not enjoy himself. Is life catching up with him? We will have to wait for next year to find out.

Sanam Jung on Jago Pakistan Jago

If the ticker on Hum TV’s morning show Jago Pakistan Jago is anything to go by, Pakistanis are still besotted by Sanam Jung’s girl-next-door looks. For someone who is told every day, in every SMS sent to the show, that she is prieety and piyari, Jung remains remarkably level headed. Hum TV’s newest morning show host became a nationwide sensation after her acting debut in 2013 as Sila in the serial Dil-e-Muzter for which she also bagged the Hum TV award for best television sensation. A former VJ, Jung first displayed her morning show potential when she stood in for Shaista Lodhi and co-hosted Geo’s Utho Jago Pakistan for a few days (whilst its beleaguered host recuperated from her marital troubles) and made a lasting impression. A tad wide-eyed, childlike and unassuming, Jung is still in awe of some of the celebrities she invites on Jago Pakistan Jago. Now that is a refreshing break from the cocksure motor mouths that seem to rule this slot.

Nida Yasir on Good Morning Pakistan

Watch Nida Yasir’s Good Morning Pakistan on ARY Digital to get the lowdown on all the reasons why some people detest morning shows… and why others love them. And why almost no one sits on the fence. This is the show that confirms all the stereotypes of the genre and tops the cheesiness stakes with some seriously tacky music playing in the background ad nauseam. Remember the Hollywood flick Forrest Gump? In which good luck follows a mentally challenged man? No matter how big a soup Gump lands in, everything magically turns up roses? We were reminded of that film and its protagonist, when this show and its witless host gained strength and eyeballs after the blasphemy-induced debacle of Geo’s chart topping Utho Jago Pakistan. Harbouring no pretences about a higher purpose, the inarticulate and perpetually smiling Nida Yasir takes inanity to another level as she conducts yet another mehndi or tries to piece together two cogent thoughts while talking. No surprises then that her guests are usually smarter than her and she is more than happy handing them the reins of the show. Surely one loses a few million brain cells with every viewing of the show? But the more significant question is why, if she is so bad, don’t people switch the channel when she is on?

Mohib Mirza on Pakistan Idol

One couldn’t imagine that the man who played the role of over-the-top loser Ishrat baji could have the cool, self assured style that was required of the Pakistan Idol emcee. As he egged on the contestants, created hype and perfected the art of postponement by giving 30 seconds worth of information for the duration of the show, Mirza managed to hold the audience and showed that he had the show’s distinctive delaying game down pat. Not to mention that he looked rather debonair in a tuxedo.

Shahrezad Samiuddin is a pop culture junkie and an aspiring screenwriter.