I am writing to you in the hope that you listen. In the hope that you want to change all that was vile, and murky and painful in you, and keep what is good and beautiful and uplifting. I am writing because 2 weeks have passed and we still have cross-border incidents with our neighbours, we still troll our actresses – our national treasures, and comment on the way they dress or behave, rather than focusing on the state of our society, where a child is not safe on the streets of Kasur, or many other cities, and we still have children on the roads who are exposed, at risk, not in school, and still afraid.
I am also writing because there is hope alive as Pakistan’s economic status stabilizes, our dramas belt out content that resonates with the viewers and even if women are down-trodden, they are fighting desperately for a voice. I am writing because somewhere, in the side streets of a beaten down mohalla, a little boy is playing cricket, and a little girl is playing football, and both of them might one day be part of our national teams. There is hope, yet it is hanging by such a fine thread that I’m afraid it will break, before we have time to make it stronger.
They say nations progress if they learn from history, and so do societies. Well this is what the year brought us in headlines, and while we rejoiced at some news, we struggled to comprehend most of it.
1. Mohsin Abbas Haiders Verdict
The insudtry watched as Mohsin Abbas Haider’s wife went public on physical abuse suffered at the hands of her husband. The drama played out on social media, with followers taking it all in.
Sad fact: The same industry that screens dramas on the abuse of women has welcomed Mohsin Abbas’s new single and wished him all success. So if we cannot distance ourselves from the performer, and we don’t want his personal life to affect his public and professional persona? Then go watch Priyanka Chopra guys. And all the Bollywood movies you’ve so happily banned on our soil. It’s Art isn’t it? Why pick one from the other?
2. Hamza s YouTube channel
Hamza Ali Abbasi made his big announcement at year end. He will be focusing on spiritual enlightenment, he will give up acting, but he will stay within the industry as a key player. behind the lens if not in front of it.
This ushered in a new era in Pakistani showbiz. A new genre of drama and film content will open up as we progress from the saas-bahu dramas to deeper topics. We wish him well and hope that 2020 will be the year that we challenge our spiritual selves and do more and better work. If nothing else, the youth might find answers in Hamza’s work – hoping that he won’t disappoint.
3. Engagement Galore
Iqra Yasser announced their engagement with a flourish, Ahad & Sajal followed with a more traditional approach, and Hamza & Naimal’s secret was out before they knew it! Romance was in the air, but more than this, 2019 has witnessed the coming together of people who will rightly create the power couples for the next generation. If they play it right, they can propel the industry forward in mind-boggling fashion by using their star status to create change, positivity and real differences in an industry that is surging ahead with full force. Could we imagine in the last decade that we would be where we are? We can’t wait to see what transpires in 2020.
4. 3 Movies on Eid
Whoever said the film industry is struggling needed to be there on Eid. Superstar, Parey Hut Love and Heer Maan Ja made a star-studded debut on the big screen. If Bollywood was absent, Pakistani movies were certainly present. We saw a massive improvement in production quality, music composition and costumes.
What do we need in 2020? Script, people script! We need the scripts, and hopefully, Fawad Khan’s new initiative will make that happen! Add the missing link and watch us soar Pakistani cinema. Make it happen in 2020!
5. LSA Controversy
Yes, the awards are for everyone, but some chose to stay away. People made their displeasure show as Ali Zafar became the focus of yet more controversy. This was probably a turning point in our industry as the #Metoo movement gained strength. Debates surrounded the misuse of #Metoo as well. Here’s hoping that a boycott is not on the cards this year. Perhaps the artists who didn’t attend could have attended and used LSA as a platform to voice their opinion? Just a thought. But again, who are we to say anything when Mohsin Abbas Haider flies high with his music, (supported by the same industry that shunned Ali Zafar)! Let’s hope 2020 covers serious ground
6. Jami Tweet
Film maker Jami shed light on a topic that has yet to make its way on the Pakistani front. And that is the sexual abuse of men. Yes, it happens, and yes, they don’t speak up. We are not passing a judgement here but just saying that we must start conversations. In an industry that is growing with each passing day, we cannot brush issues under the carpet anymore.
2020 should be the year that should be less poisonous on Twitter and more celebratory. Can we do it? I see Mehwish Hayat’s Twitter reply to Tarek Fatah’s tweet just now and I’m wondering if trolling is perhaps a good thing – esp. when you have Mehwish Hayat online! 2020, some things will continue, and maybe for the better!
7. Firdous Jamal vs Mahira
Whether you’re too old or too young to play a character. Humayun Saeed and Mahira Khan both got the short end of the stick. For those who are lost on the deets for this one, click here. For those who know, we hope that our film and drama fraternity can find it in their hearts and Twitter fingers to think before they type (or give interviews) in 2020.
8. Return of Rohail Hyatt to Coke Studio and multiple copyrights
Yes, he was back. Kind of an anti climax, if we may say so. Perhaps we were expecting the moon, but were handed the stars. That and the multiple copyrights glitches plagued this season of Coke Studio. We’re hoping that our local musicians can find a voice. All in all, not a bad effort, but we could do with a new and improved version next year – more hits than misses.
9. Priyanka as UN Ambassador
Yes, she said what she said. ‘Don’t embarrass yourself girl.’ was perhaps the sentence that broke the camel’s back. Again, if you were living under a rock then click here to know what we ‘re talking about. Priyanka might have won the war of words (maybe) but she broke many hearts across the border. Let’s hope that 2020 brings us new role models and Bollywood personalities who win hearts on and off the screen. And let’s try and be bigger than the best and not rely on role models from across the border.
When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either.
10. Mehwish Hayat’s Oslo Address
If this were the highlight of the year, we loved it. Mehwish threw some light on stereotyping Pakistan in Hollywood and Bollywood, and she used an international forum to do that. LSA nominees, you know what we mean right? If you boycott an event how will you speak up for what is important, who will you find your voice, and more importantly, lend it to all those who need you to speak up for them? We loved how this panned out, and we hope that 2020 is the year that our stars step up to make films that show Pakistan in a better light. Let’s put those words into action Mehwish, hope you’re reading a script right now!
11. #PMIK UN Speech
He came, he saw, he spoke, and he went on speaking … every Pakistani ka haal-e-dil aisae bayan kiya that we were floored. He even reached as far as Turkey to touch hearts. PMIK’s UN Address was super long, but super heartfelt. As Pakistanis, our hearts swelled up with pride and now … we are hoping that a tiny ripple was created with the cumulative effect of all the good that was initiated in 2019 to follow through in 2020!
Also in 2019. Our stars took on international roles as goodwill ambassadors. We broke records in world cricket, our women athletes moved ahead despite all odds to gain international recognition in Cricket, Football, Badminton, and more. Can we make 2020 a breakthrough year where we rise up to make good what we started?
Dear 2020, Keep your eyes on the goal but don’t get displaced by the obstacles that will for sure make it harder – that’s part of the journey. Keep at it – it’ll all work out – or not?