Breaking Facades

By Sonya Rehman

I don’t think I’ve ever had the patience to sit through a Pakistani cooking show – but I will confess to watching several episodes of one particular (culinary) program which was aired a few years ago on local television.
The delightful show went by the name of ‘Marina’s Kitchen’ and was hosted by Marina Khan herself who would introduce a known face – from TV, music or fashion – and a casual interview would ensue as the guest and Marina herself cooked and chatted away.

Marina Khan

The main reason as to why the show did so well was because Marina has this great way of ‘connecting’ with her audiences – it just comes to her so naturally, and added with a fantastically quirky/witty sense of humour, you can’t help but to appreciate the woman’s ‘realness’ amidst the glut of plastic dolly-birds that one usually comes across on air.

And this becomes even more apparent when one watches her latest hosting endeavour that goes by the name of ‘Marina Mornings’ on a local channel. From interviewing a mixture of ‘real’ people – from doctors to small screen actors to directors and more, ‘Marina Mornings’ is stripped of the typical ‘morning show’ idiosyncrasies. Sure it has its ‘aerobics’ health segment and cooking segment, but the potency of Marina as a host, ropes it all together extremely well.

But just a few days ago, a flustered Marina read out two heated e-mails from two very bored (and thoroughly frustrated) begum saabs.

The women aggressively criticized Marina for the colour of her hair and her wardrobe – stating that if she didn’t dye her hair (to get rid of the white roots) and/or dress better; she would lose out on viewership. The nerve. “I don’t HAVE to look young”, Marina said visibly upset, “because I’m NOT young! I’m 44 years old!” And then one of the e-mail’s in particular, deliriously zigzagged off track and began lecturing the host on how one must look on TV since it’s all about ‘glam’. Baffling!

With fabulous hosts such as Marina Khan and Ayesha Tammy Haq – you don’t consciously focus on the individual’s apparel, hair or make-up. It’s just not that important. Why? Because their content and delivery is often so engaging, spot-on and interesting that you tend to look beyond the surface. Think about it.

This mind you, is not to affirm that Marina or Ayesha aren’t attractive – quite the contrary, hell they’re stronger, sexier and brighter than any other local female talkshow host out there. If you beg to differ, bite me.
Sure a PYT (pretty young thing) on TV is bound to lash in a few odd channel surfers, but after a few minutes of dreary, painful banter, you’re bound to switch the channel.
That’s ruthless ol’ television for you – if a host walks the walk along with verbally spewing forth absolute bunk…next!

Look at some of the best hosts the world over – Oprah Winfrey for one. Since the 80s till today, Winfrey’s weight has continuously ballooned and contracted…but she’s never been skinny or knee-knockingly gorgeous. She’s always been Oprah – real, empathetic and humorous…a real treat to watch. Zap out all the freebies (that she regularly gives out to her audience on each alternating episode), and Winfrey will still remain one of the most adored talkshow hosts for years on end because she is who she is – stripped of all facades.

Regarding the tactless, unfeeling e-mails that were sent to Marina, it really is mind-boggling how insensitive viewers can be. Criticism should be delivered gently and constructively, not conveyed as verbal smacks. No one’s perfect and this isn’t a perfect world – with the nauseatingly glossy veneer that is habitually painted over almost every other local program, genuine hosts like Marina should be encouraged…not stifled.

Instep Today, The News

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