Published in the POST Aug 16, 2007
2011: All Pakistani/Foreign Music Channels have been removed from the local TV cable
Still, before we go any further, PEMRA officials need to check what one particular distributor is up to in Karachi. Meanwhile, back in the future without any English videos/music to preview, one can still flip over to MTV Pakistan, till it gets scrambled too. Far from being discouraged, however, this seems like the perfect opportunity to observe the evolving Pakistani music video scene through the remaining five local music channels. Several days of channel surfing later, the evolution is not very discernible and video-making appears to be suffering from a sad case of identity crisis instead. The quality of music, however, has somehow escaped degeneration.
As it gets more difficult to identify with the detour music videos seem to be taking, artists unwittingly gamble with their individuality while endorsing a lifestyle more customary to Indian films than Pakistani television. Barring a few videos, the creative spark is seldom seen as unimaginative templates keep cropping up. Past videos where Yasir Akhtar pranced around as an officer wearing a rank higher than his years allowed is admittedly a minor faux pas compared to the outlandish cultural flaws that routinely show up nowadays. As cowboys perched on train tracks in backwater village/townships and lonely gas stations on a fabricated Route 66 incongruously form the backdrop of an emergent music scene, the landscape dressed up as the 'Wild West' is neither picturesque enough to inspire awe nor befitting for the perfectly coiffed Desi fella.
Even though the primary purpose of music videos is merely to entertain while peddling the song, how they go about it is equally important. Singer Abrar-ul-Haq, on a TV appearance claimed that the dearth of good directors makes our singers cross over. That partly explains why a highly talented singer, who also became a commercial success across the border, hesitated to release a Pakistani version of his videos. A Pakistani song featured on an Indian film still needs to have its own video made for home audiences, regardless of the director deficit. To those who ask why spend twice when the product is more marketable with an Indian flavour, the answer would be that since this is not a permanent cultural exchange vaudeville, Pakistanis need to see their own selves represented in some way, however fantastic or mundane that might be.
60 years later, the film industry has expired for all intent and purposes; its revival by the new Shoaib Mansoor film 'In the name of God' has raised hopes. Many believe that the drama scene is also on life support. The present trend indicates an ominous slump in the quality of music videos and unless the video business is properly overhauled, what another 60 years will bring for the music industry will not be that difficult to predict.
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