By Sonya Rehman
Let’s face it – ‘good’, local talk show hosts, are very few and far between. Especially ever since fledgling local channels – targeted towards the youth – went ballistic and started launching themselves faster than a state of emergency could be announced within a country. And currently, with local news channels swiped off air – political talk shows hosted by the likes off brilliant hosts such as Kamran Khan, Hamid Mir and Talat Hussain, cannot be tuned in to.
But with regard to the newer, local talk show hosts, what aren’t they getting right? It’s pretty simple really; they fail to ‘connect’ with their audiences. And funnily enough, they really don’t make much of an effort to rectify their rather drab hosting abilities.
And then, it really makes one wonder why certain TV stations have other, more intelligent criteria’s for their selected hosts – rather than an attractive physical appearance.
Whatever happened to the speech criteria? ‘Look Ma, I can talk with an accent – without having my jaw fall off’, is what some new hosts seem to say while merrily yapping away air-headedly.
Sure, TV is supposed to be good fun – but there’s something called a ‘script’, that keeps the host connected to the show – rather appearing to ramble on, ad-lib, like a yahoo, over-extending his/her fifteen seconds of fame.
But that’s not just all – the newer lot’s Urdu is oftentimes so poor – that it winds up sounding like a cross between a pakhtoon and a New Yorker’s accent: “Hum tum ko ik ghana sunai ga, which is like totally a-ma-zing. So like check it out and like, stay tuned”.
However, there are some pretty neat hosts out there – which truly are local broadcast media’s saving grace. Thank goodness for that, because having to listen to one more Minglish accent is enough to make standing in a shooting range appear to be all the more appealing.
‘The Real News’ – hosted by Saad Haroon and the hilariously whacked-out Danish Ali, are currently out with their second season, that’s packed with wit, and which has all the punch to make a Sunday night thoroughly entertaining. These guys are a riot. The show’s promos – which are aired quite frequently – features both Saad and Danish poking fun at a local, English news channel, and the parody really is enough to get you into stitches!
Other talk shows like the one hosted by Fasi Zaka, Nadeem Farooq Paracha and Mohsin Sayyed also come as a welcomed addition.
The format of the show – ‘News, Views & Confused’ is pretty unusual – unlike anything that’s been done for Pakistani television, and perhaps that’s one of the reasons as to why people haven’t really twigged on to it yet.
But with Zaka, Paracha and Sayyed – three really caustically witty men – ‘News, Views & Confused’ is poles apart, if compared to a majority of the other hogwash running on TV currently.
Aamminah Haq – out with her topical, ‘Aamminah Haq Show’, seems to share a format similar to Karan Johar’s ‘Koffee with Karan’. Dressed in knee-length skirts and dresses, Aamminah comes across as a super-confident host – and no matter what bones certain viewers would like to pick with her show, the truth is, it’s watched and tuned in to. Why? Because Aamminah stands as a major, fashion icon – and having her seated in the host’s couch, interviewing many of her peers and contemporaries (from the local media and fashion scene at large) – it manages to spike a viewer’s interest.
‘Pappu Yaar’ hosted by motor-mouth Ali Azmat also is also great fun. This is because Azmat speaks without any hang-ups whatsoever; he’ll crack his crazy jokes, get his audience (comprising of young people primarily) to get into the show’s topic for the day, and speak one-on-one with the show’s invited guests.
I recall sitting in on one of his shows months ago at a studio here in Lahore, and it was absolutely wild. The topic was about women and their role in the society.
With a young female lawyer and another from the corporate world, along with a conventional, male estate agent as guests, the show was a riot and a half. And when things got too heavy and somber, Ali would effortlessly make light of the situation with a joke or two, making everyone laugh and get back on track.
And then there’s ‘Retrospective’, hosted by a bright young girl called Amina – who thankfully knows how to talk.
Regarding pop culture and local music, Amina’s shows are insightful and well-planned – script-wise. Apart from speaking well (minus a fractured, put-on accent), Amina is one of the few young hosts out there who represents her target audience extremely well. One of her show’s in particular – about local and foreign music videos – whose themes/ideas were ripped off and copied, was a great watch and extremely well put together.
There’s good ol’ Dino too, a host who has remained consistent vis-à-vis his hosting abilities and who comes across as thoroughly unpretentious and down to earth.
Dino gets it right because he always manages to connect with his guests and audiences.
Hosting is an art – and if you think sitting infront of a few cameras is as easy as ABC, think again. This is especially with reference to taking charge of live shows.
Slapping on some war-paint and wearing chic clothes will help preppy young hosts in the short-run, but if you’re thinking long-term – forget about it. Under the spotlight, learning to walk the walk, is just as imperative as talking the talk.
Instep Today, The News