As a friend pointed out the other day, what can one say about a society that gets consumed by either Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the assassin of Salmaan Taseer, or by Veena Malik, the talented but tainted movie and television actress? Both are abhorrent and are examples of absurd extremes. To make matters worse, our reactions to both of these personalities and their actions also exhibits moral bankruptcy and bigotry.
Veena Malik did not go to participate in “Bigg Boss 4” as a representative of Pakistan. That is a fact. Whatever she did, and no matter how undignified or vulgar her behaviour was, she did it on her own, individual capacity. She herself acknowledges that she went there as an entertainer. She is a person who is already dogged by controversies and scandals. Expecting her not to cause a ruckus is rather naive and foolish and is akin to expecting the nature of the proverbial beast, so to speak, to change.
So national honour should not be sullied and those who think that it has been trampled upon are only making fools of themselves. But then, context is important. Ms Malik does owe her identity to Pakistan and, more so, to the country’s abysmally bad film industry. Did she expect that the show she was on would be viewed in a vacuum and that some people in Pakistan wouldn’t judge her behaviour through a prism of nationalistic fervour?
But what I find more interesting is that for the sake of the show, and in self-defence, she is now throwing mud at an already very-stained Pakistani film industry. Her tirade against Syed Noor and Kamran Shahid in January 23’s episode of “Frontline” on Express News made interesting television but was very self-serving and misleading as well.
Similarly, one cannot fault or stop people — who are, by and large, offended by the way she conducted herself on “Bigg Boss” — for speaking out against her. After all, whenever something comes in the public domain, it does become a subject of public discussion. Tongues will wag. Fingers will be pointed. Conclusions will be drawn.
But mostly, whenever such a stirring does take place here, it becomes more a reflection of the double standards and hypocrisy of our society than anything else. As for Veena Malik’s critics, one needs to ask them how they would explain the massive demand for — and hence widespread acceptance of — Indian movies in every nook and corner of Pakistan. If going to India and appearing in a film or a reality TV show is deemed objectionable, then so should be the import and screening of Indian movies and dramas.
Pakistani actress Meera received pretty much the same kind of treatment when she appeared in a Mahesh Bhatt-directed film some years back. Why, then, blame Veena of wanting to become an object of desire, when songs like “Sheila ki Jawani” and “Munni Badnam Hui” have a massive following here? These tunes are hummed by all and sundry and some of our politicians use them to convey their points! Why, then, blame Veena Malik for exhibiting her ‘jawani’ and wanting (and perhaps glowing in) the ‘badnami’?
She has made a good point in that she has questioned the doublespeak and double standards of moralists and reactionaries on this side of the border. But for that, should she have a carte blanche to do whatever she wants to do?
Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2011.
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