With a vengence
It was quite obvious after last Ramadan that Geo was going to hire Dr Amir Liaqat back. Geo had six to eight anchors last year, ranging from Junaid Jamshed to Omar Sharif and of course Sahir Lodhi, for around six hours of Ramadan special programming. Still, Amir Liaqat single-handedly took on all of them with his marathon transmissions on ARY every day. The biggest factor behind claiming the biggest chunk out of the total market share for any media group was Dr Amir Liaqat himself. This year I hear that the market has expanded even more. The banaspatis are on fire; so are the colas and the rest. The media industry is expecting approximately 450 million rupees for commercials and endorsements this Ramadan.
As expected, there was a lot of hue and cry when Dr Amir was made vice president of the network. It was understandable because most people don’t know that it’s an honorary post. Presidents of TV channels have absolutely no task to perform except going to events and getting photographed. It is just that when the company hires somebody for millions, they have to offer him a post that justifies those millions paid to him. This justification is not for others; but even Saiths these days like to follow HR policies and hierarchy charts, even if it is only on paper. And with the exception of sweepers and drivers, whom the HR manager hires, all the others are hired by the department heads or Saiths themselves.
As usual the know-it-alls – who have absolutely nothing to do with any of it – were found in big numbers on the social media, claiming that higher officials and anchor persons were contemplating resigning in protest against Amir’s return. This acute need on the part of people to have heroes – to the extent of creating one by making up stories like this – I will never understand. Most of the people who were rumored to have resigned are habitual; they do it every July before evaluations. The real guy who was said to be actually responsible for Amir’s exit in the first place realised how important Amir is for the network and is said to have kept his cool ever since his return. The people who thought that this guy would leave and had placed their mattresses in office ready to take over as soon as they were asked to are the only ones disappointed. Rest assured: the network must have renewed the contracts of all the big guns by now – it must be in process at any rate. Therefore sadly no heroes for social media activists, and most probably no budget left for raises of regular employees.
For all those who missed the good doctor’s debut show yesterday, it’s a must-watch. I repeat, it’s a must-watch. The program was on his second coming. He was convincing like always. It proved his high ratings no matter what the other channels show. I couldn’t grasp everything he said as I tend to struggle when this much information is passed on towards me at such a fast rate. However, I distinctly remember some glimpses of his brilliance. For instance, when he said that people spoke ill of the Prophet (PBUH) too when he went to Madina! Or, when he said that social media activists should behave because in this war between right and left, we have forgotten what is right and wrong; although we were told 1400 years ago that we have to say Assalam-o-alaikum to our right and to our left (this is pure poetry in action!). Then he put the icing on the cake by spotting the ideal time to play the ace of spades, that is, how his mother raised him.
Love him or hate him, nobody can say, “Ghalib film dekhi hai aap ne?” better than Amir Liaqat. While on the topic, Ghalib had famously said, “Mai gaya waqt naheen hoon ke aa bhi na sakoon.” In his comeback program, Dr. sahab too expressed a somewhat similar sentiment, in more or less equally elegant manner when he observed: “Channel maa naheen hote ke badle na jaa saken.”
I like Amir Liaqat more than any anchor in any channel, and I am not being facetious. I started liking him after his leaked videos because I admired the fact that unlike the rest of the anchors, at least he hadn’t started acting self righteously in his real life after playing for so long what he does for the gallery. It is said that people get the leaders they deserve. I think the same goes for anchors. Except, the rest of the anchors – who are by no means any better than Dr. Amir – take themselves too seriously, whereas the pause and then the smile the good doctor gives after every sentence basically means in a refreshingly honest way, “blow this.”
The writer is a member of the band Beygairat Brigade.