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The Outlandish Kamran Shahid

I’ll be honest: I don’t like Kamran Shahid one bit. He’s brash, uncouth and thoroughly ungentlemanly; and if I were a woman, I’d make a deal with the devil before allowing myself to be found in a 100 meter radius of the guy who conducts a “serious” journalistic talk-show with his chest hair on display like it’s still the 70s. Seriously. A man who seems to have made it his “purpose” to make women cry on cable television is not the kind of man I was brought up to respect.

I’m positively tickled by the fact that of all the people who could have brought Maya Khan to trial for going all Mullahni on Pakistan’s lower-middle class last month, and, as Kamran kept echoing on last night’s show: putting those poor hormonal boys’ and girls’ lives in jeopardy; it was the man who shot to (de)fame last year on what can only be described as The Exact Same Grounds!

Did the all-wise Kamran Shahid really forget how he practically put Veena Malik through the same tribulation on his show in January of ’11? Wasn’t putting a defenseless woman on the spot by pronouncing her immoral over and again for making personal choices like drinking Champaign and cozying up with men on a television show that paid her millions pretty much the same, if not worse, than what the incorrigible, detestable Maya Khan did?
At least the girls Maya and her cronies chased in the park were wrapped up in abayas and had the protection of a veil to guard their honour. Veena, on the other hand, was a public figure who was forced to leave the country after an allegedly orchestrated car accident almost killed her days after the show Kamran probably still pats himself on the back for pulling off.

Now, I’m not saying what Maya Khan did wasn’t cheap, unprofessional and fundamentally uncalled-for. Her faux pas was all of those things and more. But that’s all it was: a faux pas, blunder, a mistake. She may have proved herself to be a silly anchorperson who acted impulsively for ratings, but tell me, are you and I any different? Didn’t we rush to Facebook and Twitter to compete for who disparages her in 140 characters better, first?

Yes, I’m afraid what we’ve done to her since then is worse.

All I’m saying is, just like life and everything else we do, morning shows are also a competition. We may not always agree with the content, but we’re all smart enough to know it’s still a job to be done. It just seems a bit unfair to me that we should first put these women on pedestals and give them passports to do whatever they want by encouraging them with orgasmic phone calls, and then one day, out of the blue just wake up and aim our guns at one of them for making a mistake while doing what she’s paid to do: entertain us.
Maya Khan, Nida Yasir, Shaista Wahidi or Kamran Khan—same difference. Let’s not insult ourselves by assuming that Maya’s counterparts wouldn’t have jumped at the idea of raiding parks because it makes for excellent trash TV—that sells. The others simply got lucky it was she who came up with the idea first and not them.
And I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think it was a low-shot on the network’s part to sack a team-member they’d been cashing in on for years. The cowardly act doesn’t only speak volumes against the execs that run the channel; it may eventually cost them a lot of moolah too—especially if Maya’s revelations about the show being scripted turn out to be true and she decides to spend some of the free time on her hands reading up on employment law.

Having said that, I’m secretly glad that we, the ever-misguided consumers, for once stood up for what we believed was right. If nothing else, it’ll teach the others in the business to be more careful while choosing and approving content in the future. The same goes for Mr Shahid, who probably doesn’t realize this, but his testosterone fueled show—which I’m sure most of us watch only once every twelve months when he piggy-backs on a plummeting starlet for a few claps—do more harm to his purpose than good. Last year he successfully managed to turn me into a Veena Malik fan-boy after harassing the woman who turned out to be more Man than both her persecutors; and yesterday, he made me see Maya Khan, the country’s sole source of disgust and laughter since that fateful day in the park, in a somewhat different, softer light.

I may not know much since I’m a “Facebook user” and not a “sensible members of civil society” like Mr Kamran Shahid, but I do know this: You can’t expect every woman to come to battle with a sword as sharp as Veena’s, but I appreciate that Maya still chose to face her detractors and take the first step towards putting this unpleasant episode behind her. If she can show the courage to go on air so soon after a gaffe that rendered her a social outcast, then surely we can find it in ourselves to give her a few more days to cook up an appropriate apology… After all, it’s not like we’re used to them around here or something!