While the liberal-minded journos and celebs and the rest of the progressives are puking all over social media condemning the comeback of Amir Liaquat Hussain and Maya Khan on Geo and ARY respectively, and the discontinuing of Veena Malik’s Astaghfar program on Hero TV, the fact of the matter is that the channel proprietors who probably are closeted liberals themselves, don’t give two hoots about what the miniscule minority think. They have hit the jackpot by bringing these hosts back who by the way like it or not are extremely admired by the masses.
The very public who has been severely hit by high inflation resulting in their increased poverty, an all-time-high unemployment and if through these hosts and especially through these Ramzan shows they are obtaining cash handouts, rickshaws/motorbikes/car, education for their daughters, treatment costs of their ill spouses, you can’t blame them for appreciating Amir Liaquat and Maya Khan.
Also quite shrewdly, the concept developers have strategically developed a kind of inclusiveness by sharing in the grief of the public and mitigating their suffering by asking easy Islamic knowledge questions and gifting them expensive cellphones, LCDs, microwave and other high-end gadgets. With the masses being subjected to repetitive onslaught of commercials on TV screens depicting upper middle class lifestyles and with celeb-dominated red carpets wearing fantastic costumes and having a jet-set lifestyle, it is a life that the masses cannot partake and hence to target them as their audience via these Ramzan shows is deliberately clever and also socially conscious even arguably it is at a superficial level.
I will not get into the past shenanigans of Amir Liaquat and Maya Khan and their hypocrisies and their double standards as several columnists or bloggers have written about those vociferously. (Here are some reminder links just in case you want to jog your memory: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=223683767719939, http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/7508/dr-aamir-liaquat-defamation-of-faiths-dr-jekyll/#.Tkp8IKa-xAw.twitter). I will also not get into their audacity to preach to the television viewers about piety and forgiveness during their Ramzan transmissions, this too has become passé and tiresome. I will also not get into the content of their programs which by the way is a conglomeration of a quiz show cum summer camp cum cooking show cum fund-raisers cum naat competition cum let’s-convert-the infidel show-cum soup kitchen cum roza kushai cum calligraphy contest cum health show cum let’s-peddle-my-heartfelt story.
What I am going to attempt in my blog is to speculate the overall cost of Amir Liaquat’s Pehchan Ramzan’s program and Maya Khan and her co-host Shahid Masoods’ Faizan-e-Ramzan Shahr-e-Ramzan’s program. I am blogging about this because I am awestruck by the extravagance of both the sets, the likes of which have never been seen on local television especially during Ramzan transmission. Never mind that extravagance, boastfulness and materialism are contrary to the teachings of Islam! But then Islam has become a commodity and these programs are a mere reflection of that. Moreover, Amir Liaquat’s showmanship and entertaining hosting skills notwithstanding his daily five-hour show (3 pm to 8 pm) indicates his incredible amount of stamina where he is running around the humongous hall managing 14 different segments. Plus he also does sehri transmission in the same location every single day.
Amir Liaquat’s Pehchan Ramzan production has been set up in Ramzan City. Now according to my reliable source that Ramzan City is none other than Expo Centre in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Karachi. The Trade Development of Pakistan (TDAP) built Expo for holding exhibitions to attract buyers and sellers. It makes sense because Geo’s studios are not expansive enough to accommodate around 500 people daily whereas Expo has three large halls each measuring around 6,690 square meters or 7,2010 square feet. Now this large area of space will obviously burn a hole in the pocket. According to TDAP’s 2006 rates the renting out of its halls range from anywhere to 1,60,000 to 2,40,000 rupees per day. In addition 50,000 rupees are to be given as caution money, which is refundable. On the set a mammoth a Noah’s ark replica has been placed. Since I cannot determine the type of material used to create it, the ark could probably have created using cheap wood or formica and then painted all over, let me guess its cost to be 50,000 rupees. Then exotic animals such as peacock, deers, turtle and other birds are seen strutting their stuff. According to an independent exotic animal online seller, peacock prices range from 20,000 to 25,000 rupees. Prices of deer from Dera Ismail Khan costs 1,25,000 rupees per animal. And on Amir Liaquat’s show they are a minimum two if not more. Artificial ponds also have been created complete with garden fountains and studded with live fishes in both Amir Liaquat’s and Maya Khan’s shows. These too could according to my guess be around a lakh rupees. The overall cost of Amir Liaquat’s set comes to around 73 lakh rupees. And I haven’t even added the cost of the pond, other exotic birds and other things that I m sure I must have missed out. I even badgered a friend to ask her friends from the television industry to ask about the cost of Ramzan set design and she came back with a figure ranging from 60 to 80 lakhs for Ramzan sets of other channels. So I m guessing that Amir Liaquat’s show could be over a crore rupees (probably the most Geo has ever spent on a show) and Maya Khan’s show could be under a crore rupees.
My guess is that next Ramzan other channels will have to step up their game to keep up with Geo and Ary Digital.
Most expensive films/TV series
- Waar, a Hollywood-Lollywood film collaboration is estimated to have been made for 17 crore rupees
- The first 10 episodes of Game of Thrones had an estimated budget of 60 million US dollars
- The pilot of Lost cost 14 million US dollars
- NBC forked out 180 million US dollars for the final season of Friends