Veteran satirist, Anwar Maqsood, appeared in an interview with a local publication and shared his thoughts about state of comedy and media freedom in Pakistan.
While talking about Pakistani TV dramas, Maqsood said, “Urdu literature doesn’t really have drama. We have a few, but strictly speaking, we can’t call them drama either. There are a few by Agha Hashar, there’s Anarkali by Taj Sahab, Khwaja Sahab’s dramas, but these dramas are such that if you’re watching them, on stage or on television, you enjoy them, but they don’t have a place in the library. We also don’t have much fiction in our literature. We had four to five people who’d write stories, who are all gone.”
He continued, “New people aren’t coming in because these gadgets have taken away the love of reading and writing. People want everything from one single device. They don’t want to buy books.”
The humorist further spoke about how people these days are not interested in comedy, “No one is writing comedy anymore. Not one person. This is the case all over the world. You’ll find many serious writers, but not many who deal with comedy.”
He then explained that writing comedy is not easy, “You have to cross a river of fire to write comedy. It’s like walking on a sword, you can get cut in half any moment. If you’re writing about someone, and if you stop to wonder whether you should be writing something in particular or not, that’s where you should stop writing, that’s the beginning of destruction. The issue these days is that people start writing where they should have stopped.”
According to Maqsood, media freedom is not right for country like Pakistan, he elaborated, “A lot of prominent journalists were upset with me when I said during a press conference with Pervez Musharraf Sahab, ‘You’ve given media freedom, but you should have done this once the country had a higher level of education. 70-80% of our population is uneducated. For them, media freedom is equivalent to destruction.’ There are so many stories on TV now that uneducated people watch and then want to emulate. They are just plays, treat them as such.”