Ramzan TV Sightings- mostly pathetic and same old

July 2013
Channels: Geo, ARY digital, Abb Takk, Hum2

Inevitably one had to see what the slick self-styled Islamic televangelist Amir Liaquat was up to in his Geo Amaan Ramzan show. Looking dapper in a sherwani, must say his looks and gut are taut even to this day, he goes up to a kid, celebrating her roza khushai, first fast celebration, and asks if her mom made her clothes. The kid said her mother bought it for her. To which Sick Liaquat says with a patronizing tone of course, didn’t you wish your mother had stitched your clothes?!!!

The show has already garnered controversy when in during an episode he played the role of Bilquis Edhi, the humanitarian’s wife who gives away babies for adoption, Prick Liaquat also gave away two babies for adoption. In another episode he invited an Internet singer sensation Tahir Shah and was reportedly obnoxious towards his guest.


On Hum2 Amjad Sabri, who hails from the illustrious family of notable qawwals –the Sabris, tarnished the art when while doing his naqqara he invited youngsters to dance and one of the youngsters ended up doing a nagin naach (snake dance) to a qawwali and other little kids did their Bollywood thumkas. His father Ghulam Farid Sabri and his brother Maqbool Sabri, one of the topmost qawwals of their time, must have been turning in their graves when their scion did this blasphemous act.

ali haider ramzan
Abb Takk, the new entrant in a sea of TV channels, has pop singer now sufi artist Ali Haider, helming a show Ya Rehman Ya Rahim Ramazan. With a pleasant voice, handsome face, donning well-fitted gorgeous sherwanis on his ageless physique, Ali is a wholesome host asking interesting questions from the panel of ulema that come to his show. Blessed with a melodious voice he often sings a religious song along with an accompanying qawwal groups. He takes live calls from callers who are troubled with trivial religious questions and is giving away gifts for answering questions correctly in his show.


JJ aka Junaid Jamshed and Waseem Badami host the Sehri transmission on ARY digital. The first part of the show is all about the self-styled Islamic scholar JJ, his thoughts and explanations about religious matters and as other Islamic scholars who in order to emphasize that they are truly Arabicised, pronouncing the ains in the Arabic fashion, JJ too utters words such as ashiq, arif, abid in an Arab manner except that it is unnecessary and sound pretentious. Not one to let go of his singing voice he regaled his mostly female audience with Naats and Hamds. Scholar sb in his sharaiee dadhee (shariat beard) and solid colored shallu kameez with the shallu also adhering to shariat along with Waseem Badami chat with a panel of Ulema about conceptual religious matters such as Ibadat and take audience’s questions who are more concerned about practical matters for instance what part of namaz to say if one has had an accident and the likes.


The kahani behind Geo Kahani

Geo Kahani

The story is actually quit simple. Aag, Geo’s youth channel had been in the doldrums for sometime although the producers did try to bring in innovative youth based shows and dramas. However, smart businessmen that the Mirs are they converted it into another drama channel a la Hum 2 and have started to air a Turkish drama revolving around Sultans and Kanizes called Mera Sultan. Currently they are also airing other Pakistani dramas.

Memorable Pakistani TV drama characters of 2012

The year 2012 showcased more or less hundreds of Pakistani dramas and soaps and only a handful were worth watching and that was mostly due to veteran actors who were outstandingly authentic or delightful in their roles. Here is my list of memorable TV characters of 2012.

1.     Savera Nadeem as Zubaida in Badi Aapa (Hum) – In a cliched role of the first wife, Savera skillfully plays Zubaida who is a complex person. She is neurotic, dominating, sensitive, cunning, naïve, overall a very well written character.  And not to forget her mousey husband is played by the top-notch actor Nauman Ejaz.


2.     Hina Dilpazeer Khan as Mummy in Quddusi Saheb Ki Bewa (ARY) – With dental prosthetics, a flying saucer hairdo, gorgeous silk saris, Hina transforms herself as Mummy, a caricature of Madam Bahar, the veteran Pakistani film actress who mostly played vampy mothers of moderen vamps in the glorious days of Lollywood. Mummy spends her free time swigging from the bottle and playing rummy with her equally awara moderen friends, the character is a hoot.

3.     Hina Dilpazeer Khan as Shakooran in Quddusi Saheb Ki Bewa (ARY) – Hina is delightful as the snobbish Urdu-speaking matriarch of a household comprising three daughters that earn for the family and a son relegated to kitchen affairs. The muhavaras/idioms/proverbs that shower from her mouth are matchless.

4.     Badar Khalil as Aqeela Khala in Quddusi Saheb Ki Bewa (ARY) – Baddo is wonderful as the stinky abaya-clad kleptomaniac rishta karanay vali khala.

5.     Waqar Hussain as Wadood Ahmed in Quddusi Saheb Ki Bewah (ARY) – What a brother! What a character! What naiveness! You have to see this serial to understand what I am trying to convey.

wadood quddusi

6.     Nadia Jamil as Shandana in Durr-e-Shahwar (Hum) – Shandana is a working woman, a mother and a wife and whose long-standing marriage is falling apart. It was good to see Nadia Jamil back on the screen after a long gap for she capably brought out the frustration and sadness of her character.


7.     Sania Saeed as Mehru in Zard Mausam (Hum) – Sania essayed the grey role of a bitter mother with great restraint employing subtle facial expressions. Only a skilled actor is able to pull of such a challenging role.


8.     Sajil as Neeli in Mohabbat Jaye Bhad Main (Hum) – Written by Faseeh Bari Khan, Neeli is a loud mouth, brash, flirtatious schoolgirl have an affair right under the nose of her philandering father.


9.     Faisal Quraishi as Rafique in Sabz Pari Laal Kabootar (Geo) – Even though Faisal Quraishi has become a permanent fixture in the drama scene yet no one can accuse him of not doing his job well. In this particular heart-wrenching and realistic production he is outstanding as a drug-addicted rickshaw driver whose addiction destroys his family.


10. Nimra Bucha as Sakina in Sabz Pari Laal Kabootar (Geo) – The wife of rickshaw driver who abandons her and their children due to his drug addiction.

11.  Bushra Ansari as Bilqees Kaur in Bilquees Kaur (Hum) – As the dominating Punjabi matriarch running a dhaba in New Yarak, Bushra Ansari outshone everyone in Bilquis Kaur.


12.  Salahuddin Tunio as Master Saeen Dino in Diya Jalaye Rakhna (Geo) – This soap has the veteran actor play the role of Master Saeen Dino responsible for bringing education especially to girls in a small village in Sindh.


13.  Sabeen Hisbani in Emaan (Express) – As the bhabhi who is learning English to impress her brother-in-law’s newly arrived American wife, Sabeen is hilarious in this character.


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.

Exotic animals are a part of the extravagant Ramzan sets

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.

Turtles are starring in Maya and Amir Liaquat’s shows

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

Glad that Mora Piya highlights the death threats to investigative journalists

Cast: Adeel Hussain, Aamina Sheikh, Manzoor Qureshi, Firdous Jamal and 
Parveen Malik

Writer: Mohsin Ali 

Director: Anjum Shehzad

Broadcasting channel: Geo TV

Telecast times: Every Friday at 8 p.m.

First telecast: December 2, 2011


The ‘brother-sister’duo of Daam, Aamina Sheikh as Maleeha and Adeel Hussain as Junaid in drama serial Daam re-emerge as a romantic lead in Mora Piya directed by Anjum Shehzad of Khuda aur Mohabbat and Dil-e-Nadaan fame. While some may appreciate the romance of the couple and some may tear their hair out for so much touchy-feely between the passionate pair (relax people! this is what couples do when they are in love and btw do much more in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, if only we were not such big hypocrites!), to me it is Faisal’s character essayed by the talented new find Adeel Hussain that caught my eyeballs. Am glad that the writer and director of Mora Piya have weaved in a contemporary character of a journalist although the bit about the girl’s father being hesitant in accepting the proposal is far-fetched since in real life most such journalists whether in print or electronic are happily married, regardless of the risks.


Playing the role of an investigative broadcast journalist who is threatened by land mafia Faisal is dismissive of these threats and thinks he is invincible. However if one has followed the story of Saleem Shehzad of Asia Times, who was allegedly killed by the ISI for exposing the links of the intelligence agency with the militants and Wali Khan Babar, Geo reporter, who was allegedly killed by the drug mafia or the MQM while covering the operation against them in Pehalwan Goth in Karachi, and the bizarre murder of a young journalist by the name of Faisal Qureshi who was political editor of news website The London Post. His body was found by his brother at 2 am at his home in Lahore, will know that Faisal in Mora Piya is being juvenile and irresponsible.

In fact according to the Blog on Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) nine journalists have received death threats via smses (http://www.cpj.org/blog/2011/08/quantifying-the-threat-to-journalists-in-pakistan.php). “Pakistan was the deadliest country in the world in 2010, according to CPJ data. The country also ranked 10th on CPJ’s Global Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are regularly slain and authorities fail to solve the crimes.”


Journalists when not receiving threats from all kinds of mafias than while covering crime and terrorism, especially TV reporters and camerapersons risk their precious lives, to get us live footage. If they are lucky to survive then their organizations abandon them and if they die then there is nobody to look after them. You can read all about this by clicking on the following link: http://herald.dawn.com/2011/08/16/work-at-your-own-risk.html


Journalism/Journalists in Movies

  • Absence of Malice
  • Shattered Glass
  • The Insider
  • Meet John Doe
  • Frost vs Nixon
  • The Paper
  • A Mighty Heart
  • Citizen Kane
  • All the President’s Men
  • Good night and Good Luck
  • State of Play
  • Thank you for Smoking
  • Broadcast News
  • His Girl Friday


Journalism/Journalists in Television

  • The Hour-BBC
  • Murphy Brown
  • Lowdown-ABC
  • Drop the Dead Donkey
  • Frontline
  • Just Shoot Me


Journalists in Pakistani Dramas

  • Karwaan
  • Loose Talk-Moin Akhtar as sahafi
  • Aangan Tedha
  • Band Khirkiyon Kay Peechay
  • Pehchaan
  • Kaash Tu Mera Baap Na Hota

TV coverage of Karachi carnage-Day 4

With the death toll reaching 100 in the four-day carnage in Karachi it was illuminating to watch the day’s coverage by various TV channels such as PTV News, Express 24/7, Express News, Geo News, Aaj News, CNBC, Metro One, and ARY News.

The news reports exposed the biases of the channels whether that was intentional or unintentional was hard to deduce but it was obvious to a discerning viewer that the pendulum swung on one ethnic side. Majority of the channels showed the misery of the urdu-speaking community residing in Qasba colony, Orangi even though there is a strong presence of the Pakhtun population in the area.

CNBC which of late has become very active in talking to people on the street was the only channel that had the public speak from both sides of the ethnic divide. Although earlier in the day it did show its blatant insensitivity when women were shown fleeing Qasba, and the reporter thrusted his mike and asked “what are your sentiments?”!!! to which the woman replied that she couldn’t talk to him at the moment. I wish she had given a tight slap to the correspondent and turned around and asked him how he would have felt if his house was being attacked and they had no place to go and how he would have felt if his family was hungry for the last three days because they couldn’t buy any groceries. The imbecile man then asked another fleeing woman the same question, she completely ignored him and told her daughter to quickly wear her chappals and hurry along with her. Needless to say, she should have whacked him with those very chappals for his idiotic query.

Later in the evening in the 8 p.m slot, majority of the channels had their talk show anchorpersons discussed Karachi’s khoon ki holi and the likes. It was frustrating to see participants mainly belonging to three political parties PPP, MQM and ANP not taking names of each other for being partially responsible for their share in making Karachi the battlefield it has become. The discussion kept going in circles in most talk shows that one had a strong sense of deja vu.

Surprisingly the otherwise ditzy Sharmila Farooqi of PPP, guest at Kamran Shahid’s Frontline programme in Express 24/7 , directly confronted MQM’s Dr Sagheer Ahmed and told him that Karachi does not have individual ownership and has collective ownership. Her loud and clear message to the former allies of her party that  is the MQM which has the problem with ANP and the pakhtun people and they have to live and let live.

Unfortunately this is a motto that it refuses to adopt.

Kate and William’s royal wedding, which local TV’s coverage was the best (read cheesiest!)

On April 29, Friday, everyone in my family gathered around the telly to watch one of the most anticipated joyful events in modern history. A big television moment there was no way that we were going to miss it. So naturally we tuned it to BBC and CNN to watch the dignified and well-informed coverage. Piers Morgan who recently joined CNN to replace Larry King as the new talk show host was in the CNN panel that was giving living commentary of the event. And it was fun listening to him for he kept making snide remarks (look at that person’s big nose!), made naughty jokes (I’m telling you the next royal wedding is between Harry and Pippa) or he kept gushing over Britain’s big moment ( I feel proud to be British)…

But then suddenly I wanted to know what our local channels were covering at that point of time. There was no way that they wouldn’t capitalize on it. So everyone from Dawn News to Samaa to CNBC to Dunya to Express 24/7 and Geo News were covering it live in Urdu. But while they all covered it a very dry and somber manner, Geo ensured that they made it as colorful and Pakistani as possible. The set had magenta sofas, the two male hosts were dressed in suits and the female host Nini was wearing an elegant white outfit. They titled the wedding as “Raja Ki Baarat”, although one wanted to tell them that William ain’t a raja yet but a shehzada anyways that’s Geo News for you, factual inaccuracies are damned. Red rose petals popped out of the gold-framed portrait of the couple. During the news bulletin, “shadi mubarak” with the couple’s pictures kept popping from the bottom of the screen and of course how can I forget there was jhankaar music that kept playing in the background.

As their picture would fade away, there would be a pop-up of crackers. The red breaking news ticker with “Shahi Shadi”, the translation of Royal wedding, sounded more like Shahi Supari, the saunf concoction that has been around with us forever. And when Kate entered Westminster Abbey with her father, Geo’s screen went all crazy with shades of pink and ran a side box of “Shahzadi Dayaana’s gown”. After they took the vows, Huma Adnan, a fashion designer, was invited to analyse the wedding dress and size of the ring. They took live calls one of them was Fareshteh Aslam, who was curiously credited as wedding planner, again a typical geo-inaccuracy.

Then finally they played songs along with a commentary documenting their relationship such as when they met the first time at St. Andrews “Teri meri dosti pyar main badal gayee”, “Choti si umar main lag gaya rog”, when they broke up “Rothay ho tum ko kaisay manaoun piya bolo na”, when the queen called both of them to meet Kate “Shayad meri Shadi ka khayal dil main aaya hai, isi liyay mummy nay meri tumhay chai pay bulaya hai”. Basically they played those songs when the boring hymns were going in the cathedral. Unfortunately I cannot find the Geo clip when Kate and William come out together as a couple from the abbey and when they played the song “Desan da raja meray babul da pyara, Amrie dhay dil day sahara, Nee veer mera ghorri charraya, ghorri charraya nee saiyon ghorri charraya”

Only Geo News could have done this kind of cheesy coverage.



watch the following link from the 40th minute