As part of our ‘Mediations of the Self’ event at NYU we had asked various media related professionals to share their views about recent trends and transitions in the Pakistan media. Adnan Jafar was among those who took time out to send us a short message related to the topics under discussion at this event.
What stood out from Adnan’s message was his optimism about the future of the media industry. Eventhough he describes the current situation in the media as a kind of ‘a chaotic jungle’, he feels that in a few years things will settle down, when people realize that ‘there are specific roles to be played in this media jungle’. Consequently Adnan seems to be very upbeat about the prospects of the media and says, that ‘Things are looking good. This is the best time to invest in Pakistan media, specially the cinema’. He points out that we see a good balance between commercial and art house movies or serious thought provoking flicks which touch on various social issues. He feels that when films are produced in ‘more mass’ on a larger scale , the ‘parallel cinema’ with good content will also take off.
Earlier at the event we found Mehreen Jabbar to be somewhat dismissive about the commercial drama serials she had directed. The subject matter was not gripping enough for her to put her heart into it. Many projects she said she had taken up simply because she need to ‘pay the rent for her apartment’ and others because they suited her need to stay in New York. When asked about Jackson Height’s, a popular drama serial which was recently also telecast in India, she mentioned she had undertaken to direct only because it was based in New York and she had already done her ‘Pakistan’ project for that year. We find the same kind of reluctance with Adnan, who mentions that while he has acted in various dramas his ‘I was never there in heart and soul. ‘ Adnan feels that the drama industry is ‘rocking in Pakistan and abroad’, but like many others he feels that we are now stuck in certain kind of women-centric subjects. ‘There are of course good dramas are being produced.. but they end up being compromised products at the end of the day. There are many more stories to tell, of many different individuals. many more issues you can pick other than the bhechargi and saas bahu conflicts. We really need to move on’, he says.
Very rightly so, Adnan asserts that ‘times have changed’ in Pakistan and that ‘slowly there is a growing professional attitude about the acting profession’. ‘There was a time when if you told people you are an actor, they would ask what else do you do. But now you can say I am an actor and I don’t need to do anything else!’, he remarks. Adnan believes there are great prospects for actors in Pakistan today especially with the tremendous number of productions under the way at this time. Infact he feels that ‘there is not enough acting pool to do justice to the amount of productions coming up’. This reflects a key aspect of the discussion at our event which was to dissect the new sense of agency and creativity in the Pakistani public sphere that could be clearly attributed to the burgeoning media industry. Many young people are aspiring to go into acting as a profession, but like many of his contemporaries Adnan feels that the young talent needs direction and feels that ‘someone should gauge the creativity coming from the younger generation’ and channel it towards beneficial ends. ‘There need to be some windows somewhere. The talent is already there but you just need to tap into it’, he says.