By: Rashid Sami

Not too long ago the performing arts here lacked the importance given to a profession. Artists, writers, poets, choreographers, directors, and producers while describing their profession would usually be asked “aur kiyya kartain hain app.” Unlike the West where Art was realized a long time ago, patronage of the profession in the Indo-Pak subcontinent faded with the fall of the Moghul Empire.

In both India and Pakistan, theatre, radio, the silver screen and then television provided basis for art and to grow. From nautankee to the present day Yeh hai bollywood (Lollywood), or MTV bakra, both presentation and performers have traveled a long way. However, in India performing arts fared better in gaining attention and respect as art had a major part to play in the Hindu belief. At the time when television, the major source of news and entertainment in Pakistan was stopping Nahid Siddiqui’s classical dance performance from being aired, art institutions were being formed and supported by government and the private sector alike in India.

Creative people here craved for channels such as radio and television for an outlet. Television with its formation in 1964, not only provided a new channel of expression to the artists and other media professionals, it also started a medium which was multi-dimensional.

Mehmood Ali, Qazi Wajid, Zaheen Tahira, Mohammed Qavi, Aslam Azhar, Ghazala Yasmin, Kunwal Naseer, Tariq Aziz and many other names come to mind as the first performers, hosts and anchors on Pakistan Television.

Without getting into details, PTV managed to provide quality entertainment and presentation till the late eighties and early nineties. This was the time when television corridors were thronged with creative professionals, artists and punters waiting for a chance, PTV stations in the late afternoons and evenings would become hangouts for the professionals and the fans. However, with the introduction of NTM, the first private television channel, things changed. With competition of quality of presentation should have improved but it didn’t.

At present, with the introduction of new channels and private production houses the lives of artists seems to be improving. But now ironically, the monetary aspect seems to be taking over creativity in television productions.

in case of the lead characters the rates and time period are as per convenience of the artist. “While accepting an offer I not only discuss the character, the remuneration but also emphasize on the time frame involved,” states Noman Aijaz. The limited number of artists has also contributed to the repetition of faces on the local mini-screen.

however, performers and artists who were neglected in the past, now seem to be well in demand earning respect and a decent living.

Now coming to the programming. maya aired on PTV World is a story based on rural setup. written by Afzal Murad and Amanuilah Nassar the play is produced and directed by Farooq Mengal. Selecting a desert as the backdrop of the play, the story is about the magic of music and human lust for power. The main track of the story involves Mir Mehboob Khan, played by Khalid Ahmed, an ammunition smuggler. Mir Mehboob’s second wife Mahgul, played dby Maria Wasti, was previously in love with Miral who had given up his sardari to become a musician. Mir’s daughter Sazain, played by Saira Khan, soon falls in love with Miral without knowing his previous feelings for her stepmother. mahgul persuades Miral to marry Sazain, which he rejects till he finds out that Mir Mehboob has other intentions.

maya is an emotionally romantic tale with elements of fantasy in it. farooq Mengal, a young director, in a short spell of time has managed to create a niche for himself in his productions Daddy and Chalte Chalte. the cast includes Sohail Asghar, Humayun Naz, Zhalay Sarhadi and Sharjeel Baloch.