Television has always been our saviour when the going gets tough. From social commentaries like “Alif Noon” and “50/50” to political satires like “Hum Sub Umeed Se Hain”, the entertainment box has given us respite from the piercing pain of political turmoil.
While television programming is still largely political in nature, a handful of shows have managed to create their own cult following by stealing audiences from talk shows. Here we mention four such personalities who have made their way from the sets into our lives. These characters are meaningful because a part of them exists in all of us and interestingly they all lampoon Punjabis. They are a reflection of our own idiosyncrasies and we mimic them, quote them and speak of them as if they were our own relatives: Saima Choudhary, Azeezi, Momo and Choudhry Nazakat, never fail to humour us with their tactics
‘Main Sayy-ma Chowdhary Fayslabad di desayner’
Saima Chaudhry, Faisalabad’s self-professed “famous designer” in “Dolly ki Ayegi Baraat” is writer Moni Mohsin’s butterfly; a candid portrayal of the “rustic” woman of the soil variety. She is the perfect emblem of society’s material nature and the obsession with one’s image and clothes in today’s time. She is vivacious, spews her enemies without shame, keeps a checklist on who’s given what, flirts unabashedly with her children’s in-laws, is conscious of wealth and property (as she counts marabaas of land) and fancies herself to be a ‘Bollywood bomb shell’. She is the quintessential Punjabi begum and proud of it. The character is potent enough to be counted as one of Bushra Ansari’s best performances, and that in itself counts for a lot since the veteran has delivered memorable characters throughout the course of her prolific career.
Azeezi is the loudmouth and politically incorrect uncle, who you wish would just behave but secretly admire for having the gall to say what you can’t. His spoofs of politicians in his show “Hasb-e-Haal” — especially him mimicking the incoherent dialect of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain — leaves one in stitches, and his humane and poignant depiction of the common man tugs at one’s heart strings. He is truly everyone’s har dil azeez and without a doubt Sohail Ahmed’s most pivotal and heart warming performance.
‘Momo? Aaaaapka naam Momo hay?’
Hina Dilpazeer as Momo in “Bulbulay” is who we wish we were, when everything around is a complete mess. When things are just so down that you can’t lift your head, you wish you had her memory span. Her comical absent-mindedness, her riddle-like manner of speech with words with double-meanings, the duck-like body language, squeaky outrages and general daftness make her an endearing character. Often she will become susceptible to silly schemes like lottery tickets that according to her, like a magic wand, will dramatically transform her life.
‘Ooh Salloo bhai’
Aijaz Aslam as Chaudhry Nazakat in “Kis Din Mera Viyaah Howay Ga?” with his technicolour kurtas and false bravado is the most delightful take on televison’s prime target, ‘chaudhries’. A diehard Salman Khan fan, Nazakat tries to copy the Bollywood hero’s swagger at every given opportunity, but lacks any real strength or courage to come even close to his ideal. Nazakat lives up to his name, which in literal terms means sensitivity in nature. Akin to many Punjabi chaudhries, Nazakat also never leaves an opportunity to boast at length of his many fictitious battles. However, when a real tenacious situation arises he hides behind a curtain and lets fate take its course. One also has to make a special mention of the tiny Chaudhry Taifi, whose effortless crass rendition of a ghunda is remarkable for someone so young. Taifi adds spice to the serial, and it’s fun observing how Nazakat cowers infront of the four-feet-tall thug.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2011.