Nostalgia is overrated, actress Kaif Ghaznavi dismissed when asked to compare today’s dramas with what the industry used to offer in the past.
A session was held on the third day of the 10th Karachi Literature Festival to discuss the evolution of the local drama industry and the factors that hinder improvement.
The panel comprised of actress and dancer Ghaznavi, director and actor Saife Hasan and actor Khaled Anam, who was the moderator of the session. Marina Khan was initially in the list of speakers but couldn’t make it so actor Azra Mohyeddin was asked to replace her.
Ghaznavi started the discussion by saying that TV has become the most relevant form of art, because it is easily accessible. “I don’t think we should compare today’s dramas to the golden era’s as nostalgia is overrated,” she said. “The drama industry has developed, so we can’t call it a fall, but rather a process that has started.”
Hasan also believes that there was no fall per say but said you can’t compare the dramas of today to those of yesteryear. For him, it would be like comparing a government during a war to one during peaceful times. “TV is a big industry where money is involved and we need to recover this money through commercials,” he said. “As the audience grows, we need to cater to everyone’s interests.”
According to him, TV channels need mass production of dramas and directors do not have the right qualifications to understand their social responsibility towards their viewers. He pointed out that channel owners don’t study literature and are businessmen who only focus on ratings.
Mohyeddin said that there was a time when only Indian channels were being watched but the industry has been revived in the past few years with some incredible reality-based dramas. She stressed the need for professionalism and suggested that actors’ contracts should be strictly adhered to. According to her, the scripts of today’s dramas are good but the screenplay and dialogues are not up to the mark as actors don’t speak Urdu properly.
“Directors tell the actors not to speak in proper Urdu and only emphasize on shooting the serial in as little time as possible,” rebutted Ghaznavi. She was of the view that people who have the authority should speak up regarding these issues and young actors should have mentors to train them and correct their pronunciation.
She said that directors lack professionalism and do not do any research to understand the psychology of a character. “Directors are the villains of the set, but if a director doesn’t know his work, then I’m the nastiest person on set,” she said.
Anam also shared his experience working with young actors. “They were given scripts written in Roman Urdu,” he said, lamenting that the younger generation takes pride in not knowing their national language.
He was of the view that at one time, the media used to take responsibility towards its audience but it has recently become a game of money. “Business is good, but when owners interfere in the script of the dramas, they are invading their territory,” he said.
The session ended on a positive note, with all the speakers agreeing that there is a need for major improvement in terms of content and directors need to focus on portraying our culture rather than on ratings.