Banning cartoons: Chasing fairytales

Children's entertainment is a subject that is untouched in Pakistan.


Ali Usman February 21, 2011

LAHORE: Recently, a resolution was moved in the Punjab Assembly to ban all cartoons that were based on Hindu mythology in Pakistan citing reasons that they have a negative influence and ‘corrupt’ the minds of the young.

Many from the industry believe that the government does not want any other religion or country to influence children. On the other hand kids don’t have a choice except watching violent political shows or religious debates on local channels. However, experts believe that children’s entertainment has not been done with sufficient planning in Pakistan and unfortunately, no one has made use of technological advances to provide children with quality entertainment. The National College of Arts (NCA) former Principal Salima Hashmi and her husband Shoaib Hashmi, who previously ran the famous chilren’s show, “Akkar Bakkar” said: “As an audience children are quite demanding and challenging. When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took over, we were called in and given complete liberty to create a format for children and we chose to do ‘Akkar Bakkar,’” said the duo.

“We were asked to do a programme for adults as well but we knew that to do a show for kids is much more challenging and important. It was for the same programme that we won the Tokyo Award. Having said that, the format had its share of shortcomings. We borrowed shows (cartoons) from the west or left our kids to watch programme’s that are by no standards meant for kids,”said the duo.

Salima Hashmi further added that in India their was an entertainment industry exclusively for children. “I remember when my kids were growing up I used to bring videos of cartoons from India specifically for children.

“They used to have great comics based on ‘Maha Bharat’ and other popular folk stories. Now they have converted  into animated programme’s which are very popular among children. The National Film Council in India gives awards to the best anime designed especially for children every year, sadly we couldn’t even learn from that,” said Hashmi.

When asked whether animated cartoons for children or other animated films could be made in Pakistan Hashmi replied, “If our animators can work for Disney why can’t they work in Pakistan? Some of my own student’s are very good animators. Given the right kind of funding, we can make an Animation Cell at the Beaconhouse National University (BNU) and start making films that are actually meant for kids,” she added.

Film critic Zahid Akkasi said, “Lollywood has made two films for children since 1947.  How can you expect a children’s film when the industry is already on the decline. Aziz Asari and I made a film for children titled Watan Ka Sephai but that dint do very well. After that nobody thought of making a film for kids. Even the dramas that we made for children were based on fairy tales. No one has made any plays to educate or inform children which in itself is quite deplorable.”

Another entrepreneur in the industry, Faizan Peerzada, who has been doing folk puppetry for many years said: “I don’t think that cartoons based on Hindu mythology or any other mythology should be banned. Kids get a chance to learn more about other religions. That is the first step to a tolerant society. As far as we are concerned, we ourselves haven’t given much attention to children’s entertainment. I have been doing puppetry but we didn’t use technology to provide entertainment to kids.

Animated videos for children are quite popular in many countries of the world and are also considered useful from an academic perspective,”  said Peerzada.

When asked whether someone in Pakistan was working to provide entertainment for children he replied, “There are people who have initiated ideas of holding a Children’s Film Festival and I think in the next few years we will have good news,” said Peerzada.

It should be noted that nearly 42 per cent of Pakistan’s population comprises of kids below the age of 15 — yet there seems to be no work done to provide for their entertainment or their awareness.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2011.

COMMENTS (6)

Anoop | 10 years ago | Reply The State is falling apart and the Legislators in Pakistan have the time to think about such idiotic stuff.. How much more intolerable can you get? If a Culture is so weak that its Children are so easily influence by another, then that Culture is not strong nor will it stay in its present form for long. I used to sing Christmas Carols every December in our school and play out many Christmas themed plays, but it didnt make me want to be either a Christian nor am I confused about my identity. If you and your Children are easily swayed by another Culture's influence then its better if you introspect about your identity and review your outlook towards life.
Maaz Abdullah | 10 years ago | Reply @Munawar: Please check this. (also, it is only polite to respect a person for his/her qualification. As we do for people getting Nobel or Pulitzer prizes, why don't we start giving credit to people for their life long struggles like Dr. Israr Ahmed or Dr. Zakir Naik ?) As for tolerance, Christians and Jews do the same things. They tell each other not to be friends with non-Christians or non-Jewish and that non-believers are God's enemies. And that is a fundamental of Religion. You cannot keep on acting like "their religion is good but ours is better" just to prove that we are tolerant. Islam negates all other religions (existing now) and there is absolutely no point tolerating the religions which preach that Islam is false or extreme.
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