Friday, March 21, 2014

Insulting Ghalib

Mirza Ghalib's poster being insulted by these ladies

Recently, a private tv channel launched a repeat of Gulzar's play on the life of Mirza Ghalib, one of the most famous and excellent poets that ever lived. The same day this tv channel had a morning show with the theme of "Urdu Poetry" and had Mirza Ghalib's posters all over the set. Understandably, this was a kind of promotional show for the launch of the play. 

I was appalled by the manner in which the host started the show with verses quoted from the back of a rickshaw. I thought this was just a warm-up kind of joke before launching into the actual poetry fest, when the host waved us over to see the whole set. She described it as a setting for a "mushaira" (a formal poetry recitation event) but it best resembled a run-down road-side sheesha and kabab joint. Brilliant red rugs and bolster pillows (gao takiyas) with cheap tassles rested on takhts, and the lady thought this is what a mushaira setting must look like.

pearls of poetic wisdom dripping off the polished canvas back of a sputtering rickshaw...


What followed was a string of people reciting rhyming sentences for cheap entertainment in the name of poetry or what they thought poetry must be like. Five minutes into the show and two well-known jokers from the world of cheap tv entertainment were called upon to share their love for poetry. One of the joker was dressed in a traditional dress and cap associated with poets of pre-partition times. They were expected to make the audience laugh and make up rhyming sentences to insult each other. All this drama played out tragically with Mirza Ghalib's posters in the backdrop and the host's incessant peels of laughter in response to each insulting jibe. I don't know what the tv channel or the program's producer was trying to prove, but it looked like the only concept these people had of "poetry" were the 2 liner's written on rickshaws, buses and walls around the city. They also thought the abhorrent twisted text message 2 liners qualified as "poetic" enough to be included. Not a single proper couplet or verse from Urdu's many many great poets was recited on this show apparently promoting Mirza Ghalib's play. 

This is exactly the type of "poetry" being recited on this show
"Muhabbat ko zamaney mein gul-e-nayaab kehtey hain...
hum aapko baithne se pehley adaab kehtey hain.."
wah wah...mausoof tashrif rakhiye humare rickshey mein aap hi ka intezar tha


We switched off the TV but not before we had seen and heard enough to doubt the mental capabilities and aesthetics of those involved in the production of this show as well as the audience. Can't believe this is what the world has come to... 

Here is a youtube link for those who'd like to witness the stupidity first hand: