It’s becoming more and more difficult to talk about actual issues because noise on social media is drowning out real conversations. Real issues and real core problems of the human condition – can’t really be solved by getting 20k rts. The hullabaloo of getting likes and shares also is ironically removing spaces for people trying to actually critique something and not just be glib or facetious.
Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput passed away by suicide a few days ago. Everyone began talking about how Sushant was not given his due and not really celebrated as an actor because Bollywood is ruled by cliques and nepotism. A lot of people went on to actually negate just how successful Sushant actually was. With his big hits like MS Dhoni or his critically acclaimed Sonchiriya or his recent hit Chhichhore – Sushant was definitely getting the love he deserved. However, some of his other films like Raabta and Drive didn’t get acclaim or success because they were … less than great as projects.
The conversation around Sushant’s death should have primarily been around depression and the deep connection between mental health awareness and the media industry. The real conversation should have been about his legacy was still important – he was a television actor who made big in Bollywood – isn’t that something to be celebrated? But guess what it turned into. People using his death to further their own agendas.
This is simply put – vulturish.
The usual suspects diverted the issues of mental health and Bollywood problematic culture to targeting individuals. When has targeting individuals ever solved any issue in the world? We use scapegoats and then we attack them and somehow feel better about ourselves. Somehow we think that we have done right by Sushant because we’ve now turned Kangana Ranaut into some kind of heroine based on her diatribe against Karan Johar. The truth is Karan Johar is not the problem.
Alia Bhatt or Arjun Kapoor isn’t the problem and by sharing two-minute clips of Shah Rukh Khan at some orchestrated award show isn’t going to change the fact that Indian society is still deeply entrenched in casteism – and until this changes, nepotism won’t change either. An audience that is still so firmly rooted in the idea that one group of people is better than another group of people, will obviously gravitate towards a landed stock of social royalty – which in this case are star kids.
To put it simply nepotism is a symptom, not the problem. The root of the problem is casteism. You dismantle that and you dismantle tons of other problems.
And that’s what has happened recently in the Pakistani entertainment sphere, albeit on a smaller scale and in a different context.
Recently a YouTube platform critiqued Bushra Ansari’s show Zebaish. Bushra Ansari lashed back saying she thought these people are the ‘corona’ of our times.
I mean. Facepalm.
First of all, very few people are actually critiquing the show for its problems and many are now a part of the generic outrage that is now related to the shikwa jawaab e shikwa situation we have going on on social media now.
But I do want to talk about all the problems in the tv show. The problem is that a television show like this can get an ok from Hum TV in this day and age is surprising. Not only the entire television show’s cast list reads out like Bushra Ansari’s family tree, it also is deeply ridiculous that the obvious plotholes have not been vetted by a content team – which I am very sure exists in the channel ranks. All big channels do. But how did something like this get an ok?
I honestly don’t have a problem with people being cast if they’re good and if they do have acting chops. As long as they stand the test of public approval and we have to admit Zara Noor Abbas and Asma Abbas are great actors. So is Asad Siddiqui and of course Bushra Ansari is a legend in her own right. But it’s all a bit too convenient when literally everyone is related to the show in real life. People are going to call this stuff out. Especially since there is no dearth of good actors in Pakistan. Check TikTok if you don’t believe me.
The script is a mess and unrealistic. Thanks to the patriarchy, no industry in the world chases older women in the entertainment industry the way we see Bushra Ansari’s character being ‘in demand’ by photographers and producers. The dialog is over the top and out of touch. We hear Bushra saying ‘kahan hai wo kaanch ki guriya’ and the next moment we see Zara’s character playing with fish in the aquarium. We also need to stop infantilizing women who don’t need to be infantilized to be liked.
Zara is a fantastic actress and I loved her work in Parey Hut Love and even Chhalawa – but she has to step out of that bubbly zone or be treated like a young, damsel in distress. I am very sure she is capable of so much more. It’s disappointing to see how her own family project has typecast her too. That said, people really shouldn’t be attacking her personally or her family either. From Bushra’s unwarranted attack, the trolling force has now moved its target on Zara. And Pakistani actresses get enough flak as it is by the moral brigade. They just … can’t catch a break.
The point is. Critique the content, come up with a proper solution or a counter-point that shows you’ve judged the content on its own rather than doing it to trash someone for the heck of it. Too much of this trashing and roasting is what has become the order of the day.
And that’s … okay I guess if that rocks your boat … but it definitely doesn’t work in the longer run. I think we’ve all created a terrible troll culture online that deflects from real issues and brings out the absolute worst in all of us. And at the same time, those of us who are now living or surviving in this frighteningly connected world, those of us who are pushing out content – we don’t really need to engage or respond to every negative comment that comes our way. Because if we keep doing this – when would we actually get time to do something constructive done?