Discordant notes

Discordant notes


Discordant notes

Strengthening ties: Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Sonu Nigam were mentors on a show that included participants from India and Pakistan.

It may not be an overstatement to say that within the fourth estate, the electronic media has metamorphosed itself to become the most powerful one. Be it the internet or television, electronic media’s penetration rate has by far outpaced any other traditional mode and continues to grow daily. As a result, everyone has understood that the easiest way to achieve fame and grab headlines is to be featured in the electronic media
by hook or crook. A tweet on the Net, a video on a sharing site or a byte to a popular channel is all you need to grab attention today.

Therefore, almost anyone and everyone who wants to be in power is trying exercise control over the electronic media. If you can whip up a sentimental, critical and relevant issue relating to something like the Indo-Pak relations, you have a winner in hand. A recent case is the controversy surrounding the presence of Pakistani participants in Colors’ popular show Bigg Boss. Political parties created a lot of trouble at the shooting spot near Lonavala as a mark of their protest against the makers of the show.

They even forced cable operators to block the channel for a day. But somehow, technology got the better of these protestors. DTH operators continued beaming the channel as politicians could not extend the ban to the companies operating across India.

And considering the market share DTH operators have, the protestors realised that it was not making the desired impact and thus everything was ‘amicably’ settled in a few days time. Was it really worth the trouble? What is the harm if television makes an attempt bridge the gap between these two nations?

Nowadays, more and more television channels are churning out shows that are trying their bit towards re-establishing amicable relations between the two countries. Bigg Boss, Chhote Ustaad, Saregamapa Singing Superstar are using the electronic media to try and reduce the hatred and bitterness that exists between India and Pakistan.

While there is no doubt that it makes immense business sense (after all who would not like to hear Sonu Nigam and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan perform on the same stage) for the producers and broadcasters as well. Also, the entire industry seems to be loving it and is giving a thumbs up to such shows.

Consider what Abbas Kazmi (former lawyer of Kasab) had to say after being evicted from the Bigg Boss house. “Since we were cut off from the rest of the world, I was not aware of what was going on outside, but I must admit that it was a nice experience staying with Veena Malik and Begum (the two Pakistani participants). We got along very well and stayed like a family. Never ever did any one of us feel that we are from different countries. There was never a sense of enmity between us.”

Apparently simple, but Kazmi’s point has deep implications. The two countries that were divided on the basis of religion more than a half-a-century back still share so much in common. Our food habits, cultural diversity, rituals — it is impossible to separate the two.
Another show that made a significant attempt towards bridging the gap was Chhote Ustaad. It came out with a very novel concept — it had teams with equal number of participants from India and Pakistan and put them together to compete in a talent hunt show.

This was not an Indo-Pak match, but was a contest where India and Pakistan were coming together and participating. It was a praiseworthy attempt by Gajendra Singh (the producer of the show) and he did succeed to a great extent. The success of the show even prompted Mahesh Bhatt to comment, “Chhote Ustaad is the most successful attempt till date at bridging the gap between the two countries.”

On the show, even the Pakistanis were pretty positive about the various attempts being made via television towards establishing peace between the two countries. Says Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, famous singer and mentor on Chhote Ustaad, “I strongly believe that we singers should be away from the prevailing political tension and perform wherever people want us to.” He believes that cultural exchange can pave the way for reducing tension between the two nations.

In fact, Sonu Nigam (one of the mentors on the show) had even gone to say that it is difficult to change adults, but if we start such measures with children, it will definitely bring some change in our perceptions towards each other. Perhaps, he is right. 

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