Lights, camera, action!
The music starts.
"Fateh suron ki, jeet sangeet ki!”
(Triumph of melody, victory of music!)
Yes, you might have guessed that I’m talking about "Sur Kshetra",
a music reality TV show where participants from India and Pakistan
contest against each other. Each team brings six contestants from their
respective countries to fight against each other in a
singing competition. Their mentors are the sensational Atif Aslam (for
team Pakistan) and Himesh Reshammiya (for team India).
The jury members consists of Abida Parveen from Pakistan, Asha Bhosle
from India and Runa Laila from Bangladesh. Their job is to mark the
contestants either with a zero or a ten.
Sounds tough, doesn’t it?
The promotional campaign of the show was huge and auditions were held
in big cities of both the countries ─ Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi in
Pakistan, and Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Indore and Delhi in India. The
shooting was held in Dubai and now the show airs on weekends (Saturday
and Sunday) on Geo TV at 9pm and Colours and Sahara TV at 7:30pm.
The basic idea of "Sur Kshetra” was to unite both nations by bringing
them together on the similar platform. Since India and Pakistan have
had great triumph in the music industry it is definitely a great idea to
unite them to produce polished future artists.
Pakistani music has travelled a long way in India, with top-notch artists like Atif Aslam
and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan often doing projects there, whilst India’s
Bollywood playback singing is quite popular in Pakistan. With such
accomplishments, one can expect a great show to be put up.
The design of the show appeared to be in line with "Aman ki Asha” which is a project started by two leading media houses; Jang group in Pakistan and Times of India in India. This venture aims to achieve peaceful and cordial relations between the two nations.
"Sur Kshetra” was supposedly supporting "Aman ki Asha”, but has it really been doing this?
This is the fifth week of the show and viewers have observed elevated clashes between the two teams. We’ve hardly seen Atif Aslam praising an Indian contestant or Himesh Reshammiya finding a flaw in his team’s performance.
Though it’s a show, and good and bad performances are inevitable,
never has it happened that the two captains agreed on any decision. I
believe that this disrupts the ambiance of the show.
Moreover, serious arguments are often witnessed between Atif Aslam
and Himesh Reshammiya, and even Atif Aslam and Asha Bhosle. Not only
this, but rumour has it that Asha Bhosle walked out and expressed the ‘do or die’ concern that either she or Atif will remain on the show.
I understand that much of the content is scripted on these reality
shows so could it be that these conflicts and arguments are scripted,
The audience does need masala otherwise the show will be
considered boring. "Sur Kshetra” is surely fulfilling that criterion,
but it could adversely affect Atif Aslam’s popularity in India since his
Indian fans might deem his attitude as biased towards Pakistan.
In addition to this, there is growing dislike for Asha Bhosle and
Himesh Reshammiya in Pakistan now as our audience thinks that they are
unfair toward Pakistani contestants.
Furthermore, on "Sur Kshetra’s” official Facebook page, Pakistanis and Indians are fighting over the show and abusing each other. One person said, and I quote,
"I watched this show for the first time this weekend. All
I saw was hatred, taunts, and biased behaviour towards each other. I
will not watch it again. This is a hate-preaching programme. I think it
was disgusting. Even the most senior member of the jury, Asha Bhosle,
was passing on indirect taunts at Atif Aslam and vice versa. No one was
better than the other.”
I do believe that if harmony between the two nations is what the show was going for, it is failing miserably!
Atif Aslam, on his Jazba Generation tour press conference
on September 28, 2012, was asked about his attitude on the show and the
response he is getting regarding it. He replied saying that when he goes
to India, he has to represent the whole country and thus, has to behave
and judge with neutrality because at the end of the day, it’s all about
Pakistan’s impression. Nonetheless, it is less likely that either of
the captains will ever judge neutrally.
A contestant of Sur Kshetra said,
"Atif Aslam supported us in every way. He never let anyone say anything against Pakistan or us.”
Well, that makes him a great mentor, all right. But the question
remains: Is "Sur Kshetra” supporting "Aman Ki Asha” or is it simply
deepening an already profound divide between the two nations?
Follow Roshanay on Twitter @RoshanaySheikh