Punjabi antenna
Memorable show on Sahir
Randeep Wadehra

Abdul Haiís mother was one of the seven wives of a Ludhiana landlord who had 14 concubines, too! Abdul was barely 13 when his mother was divorced after a prolonged period of mental and physical torture. He grew up in poverty but enriched Indiaís literary Ė especially poetic Ė traditions. His ghazals and nazms, plus compositions based on Punjabi folk, added to the cerebral quotient by generating a new sensibility. He articulated the pain of poverty and unrequited love as powerfully as love for nature and the natural Punjabi zest for life. Soulful and rebellious, reflective and teasing, philosophic, spiritual and temporal, he truly was a magician of the Hindi-Urdu poetry. No wonder he used "Sahir (magician)" as his nom de guerre, with "Ludhianvi" as suffix.

Alas, his home state Punjabís ruling elite has not only ignored him but also brazenly insulted him by resuming the plot earmarked for raising a memorial to this illustrious son of Punjab, who was the first to introduce Punjabi metaphor and verve into Hindi cinemaís lyrics. All this was highlighted in a memorable show, Punjab Speaks (PTC News). The invited audienceís reaction proved that Sahirís works are going to resonate in the human heart eternally.

Sahirís works will resonate in the human heart eternally
Sahirís works will resonate in the human heart eternally

Quite a bit of TV programming is focussed on the overseas Punjabi viewers with special shows featuring issues of specific interest to NRIs. For example, PTC News telecasts two programmes, The NRI Show and NRI World, that highlight the lifestyle of Punjabis in the UK, the USA and Canada, portraying their local concerns, be it adapting to the socio-cultural mores of their adopted countries, or their journey from rags to riches with the feel-good factor being prominent. On the other hand, Day & Night News (DNN) channelís Home Abroad show Ė in a magazine format Ė deals with variegated issues. It features achievers but also takes a look at stragglers like ill-educated and unskilled Punjabis who aspire to go abroad, who believe that the moment they step on foreign soil they would start rolling in dollars.

Taking advantage of their stupidity, travel agents cheat them and land them in trouble by pushing them into such countries as Iran, Bulgaria and even Nepal and Pakistan! Home Abroad incisively exposes the modus operandi of these thugs. The magazine becomes complete with weather updates from various Western cities.

It must be an arcane natural law that decibel levels must soar whenever politicians come together to debate an issue. Even before the anchor finishes his opening statement, objectivity goes for a toss; a debateís purpose is not to indict or exonerate a person or institution but to generate informed opinion. None of the politicians seems to be interested in discussing the actual issue, but scoring brownie points with the constituency while ingratiating oneself with the high command.

Consequently, the debate becomes personal to the extent that each invitee merrily throws mud at the others. This is what we saw on the DNNís discussion on the infamous booth allotment scam. All sorts of irrelevant verbiage were spouted Ė as if there was a consensus to confuse the issue. Bahl and Arshad Khan used lung power to counter Tandonís better-aimed verbal sallies. Sound should not be allowed to obliterate substance. One used to witness all this on PTC News (Masle) and Zee Punjabi (Khabarsaar).

DNN, so far, had been inviting panellists whose arguments made sense even as noise pollution was eschewed. Paradoxically, of late, tempers and decibel levels on Masle have simmered down perceptively. The prime time discussions on PTC News, too, have become issue oriented.

Khabarsaar, however, still follows the old template wherein the prominent sound one hears is of the anchor, who not only anticipates the arguments of various panellists but also paraphrases them in such a manner that dissent simply dissolves into the anchorís verbal deluge.