Maya Khan & Thori Si Bewafai: Putting things in perspective – Citizen Activism

We are all much aware of the recent Maya Khan ordeal, the appalling and shocking display of chutzpah, airing of unnerving footage, the massive reaction of the general public, media and freelance writers, the outcome of such strong reaction, the termination of Maya Khan, the Production Team, etc. A timely public apology was made by Samaa TV which is appreciable, and that is indeed a lot more than what can be said for Ms. Khan’s apology.

Why was it so unacceptable and why did it turn out the way it did. Was it the content of the program? Was it the values depicted in the program? What was the core of it?

An analysis in retrospect clearly indicates what the issue of the masses was, and why was it so close to every heart. Had it been the content of the program or the conduct or values depicted, it will not be an exaggeration when it is mentioned that more than half the programs will be shut down starting from core news programs to comedy shows to dramas wherein we, as viewers watch genocide of our core values, or rather, what we like to portray our values to be.

What actually was the issue then, with the Maya Khan episode? It was nothing but the invasion of privacy and possible repercussions of the airing of that show within the family and social circles of those who were exposed. The core issue was real life people. The issue was the lies and miscommunication regarding the cameras and the microphones being switched off, the exposure of individuals in mass-media without consent. The key issue being real life people, whose privacy was invaded in the most gruesome demeanor.

Following the airing of the program, there was an instantaneous reaction, especially in the electronic social media (Twitter/Facebook) whereby individuals opinions by writers, human rights activists, including but certainly not limited to some prominently known individuals as well. Soon, a number of common citizens joined in and the voice became louder and louder with every passing moment, resulting in the public apology by Samaa TV and termination of the entire team of the subject program. Following these events, there was a feeling of awe amongst all those who campaigned. A feeling that individuals matter and their collective voice can make a difference. Indeed a reason to rejoice.

Within days, Shamoon Abbasi, a prominent actor, producer, director and most importantly, an entertainer, became the talk of the town as one of his programs “Thori Si Bewafai” was aired exposing personal lives of people. Soon, a similar campaign was brewing and articles were being written regarding the conduct and the content of the program, petitions were being moved, PEMRA was being contacted and as expected, it is believed that “Thori Si Bewafai” was also taken off air while a public apology appeared on Shamoon Abbasi’s Facebook page.

We need to stop and think, was the reaction to “Thori Se Bewafai” justified. Were the parallels being drawn between Maya Khan and Shamoon Abbasi called for? It is of utmost importance to highlight that there is a stark difference between the two. The former being blatant and shameless act of invasion of privacy with possible repercussions on lives of individuals exposed, while the latter was only dramatization, maybe over exaggeration of events which may or may not have any relevance to real life situations. The latter employs actors who are paid for to bring in that “masala” entertainment which we all love to hate but can’t live without. Some more programs in the same league include

Laakhon Ka Sach” which is currently being run and “Maachis” which was being run ironically on “Aag TV”. Needless to mention that from the eyes of a common man, one was an anchor who is expected to take impartial views, report or discuss issues with an objective of possible amelioration, while the other is an actor whose objective is to entertain and deliver what is in demand.

We all must agree that as much as we talk negatively about programs such as mentioned earlier, it is us only who sit and watch them with interest and hence such productions are there to begin with. Yes, they are in demand. As we, the general public, thrive on “mirch masala” and love to watch and discuss these shows.

Considering all this, was Shamoon Abbasi’s apology called for? Or was it an out-of-context overreaction? If the former is the case, then the writer would surely like to understand what steps are taken to address the content of almost all drama serials which, for some odd reason, happen to be circling around many evils including adultery, alcoholism, etc. Why is it that a drama like “Bol Meri Machli” ends up with awards? Needless to say that these dramas do have some semblance of real life situations/stories. Is the answer simply that these are make-belief stories where the purpose is entertainment? If yes, then what is wrong with “Thori Si Bewafai” which also happens to be just a dramatization with semblance to real life situations while no individual reputation is at stake or no one’s privacy is invaded.

It is indeed heart-warming to see the nation get together and raise a voice collectively to mar a social evil, at the same time, since now its proven that a collective voice can make a difference, we need to be more responsible in who to raise this voice against, why, or how. Need not get carried away.

In the humble opinion of the writer, such drama based programs may not carry as bad a connotation as a mic being shoved in the face of a young daughter who has lost her father due to the alleged medicine crises, with questions lie “aap un ko kya kehti theen?” “Who aap se pyar kertay thay?” “Aap kaisa mehsoo ker rahi hein?”. Or how about an 8 year old passing away as a result of a suicide attach in DHA, Karachi and an anchor actually collecting all his school mates and literally destructing them emotionally by questioning them, asking them about the deceased “was he your best friend” “What was the last thing he said to you” etc. etc. Are these not the issues which actually have a bearing on our emotions or is it the dramatizations as is the case in the programs mentioned?

Considering the above, Shamoon Abbasi’s apology, the channel calling the program being taken off-air, is appreciated but was is required? Or was it a resultant of our over-reaction in the heat of Maya Khan’s episode? Shamoon has already stated much regarding his discomfort on the overall content of the program, yet, it must be considered that such programs are aired because of our demand.

Ali Rahman






3 responses to “Maya Khan & Thori Si Bewafai: Putting things in perspective – Citizen Activism”

  1. AyeshaSultana Avatar

    I think this post was posted earlier on fb but considering this thing wont be going anywhere till its repeated like a zillion times. I am posting the very first response made earlier. This was by @Sadaf Mujeeb;

    "First of all, Mr. Abbasi's show did not in ANY way indicate or inform it's viewers that it was not real and was a reenactment, and the opinion that it was real was further strengthened by the fact that even while showing ACTORS, they censored their faces and sometimes their entire bodies through deliberate pixelation. Secondly, when the fact that a TV show is NOT real, and all the participants being harassed are actors, isn't made clear or announced at the beginning or even end of the show, to proceed to verbally abuse, and show the HOST AND HIS TEAM PHYSICALLY ABUSE the "actors", just for being part of a particular group in our society is basically implying that it's OKAY to be violent and hateful towards people as long as they belong to THAT PARTICULAR community. Thirdly, when questioned, Mr. Abbasi kept saying that it was a "reenactment", which indicates that it HAD actually happened before just the same way as they were showing it now, only using ACTORS instead of the real victims. If that is true, then the original story would most CERTAINLY come under invasion of privacy and deceit, which is something that Maya Khan was also condemned for. If they were reenacting something like a real-life incident, in an objective fashion without passing any judgements as to whether what was happening was right or wrong, AND clarifying the fact that it was a reenactment of a true story, I would NOT have had a problem with it. Hate Speech is a crime everywhere, except apparently in Pakistan. It is shows like the one that has been defended above that contribute a great deal to the ever-growing prejudicial violence that is simply based on ignorance, intolerance and public figures like Mr. Abbasi flaunting their homophobia about like it's a virtue. So I'm really not sorry to have been one of the people who complained against this show. And I'm most definitely not sorry for it having been taken off air as speedily as it was."

    1. Baahirezaman Avatar


      Dont really understand what you mean by this wont be going anywhere till repeated like a zillion times… all opinions are respected… As for what is stated, i am an average citizen who has penned down what is felt. I also condemned Maya Khan strongly and took a major part in the campaign. However, on both cases, before raising the voice, it was felt an obligation to investigate and to find out as much as possible. Perhaps if it werent Maya Khan's pernoal views or gestures, she too would not have been as condemned. The only purpose is to highlight the difference where one instance is an issue with personal conduct while the other relates to the theme conceptually and one person cannot be held accountable for it. however, as mentioned earlier, i respect your opinion and feel that such discussions are the most effective way to bring about a change that is much needed. i am glad that after the positng of this article (not sure if the two events are related but just stating chronologically), CFRM sent a note to Shamoon Abbasi clarifying its views that Shamoon Abbasi was not to be or was not being blamed in person.

  2. richard.switzer Avatar

    well, whatever she did was not suppose to do, and after that she didn't even apologize in right manner.