Is there nepotism and favoritism in Pakistan’s entertainment industry? Yes – but it’s also everywhere. The recent suicide of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput triggered debates on both sides of the border. The Indian film industry fell headlong into a scandal where major power players were identified and shamed for their partisanship towards certain favorites.
In Pakistan, we keenly followed the headlines. Bollywood, after all, has been a major part of our lives, Indo-Pak politics notwithstanding. And we also looked inwards, debating over how favoritism may also be eroding away at our much smaller TV and film industry. To be honest, there are many actors who come to mind that have shown potential but are yet to make it big. There are singers who haven’t instantly become popular despite being extremely talented. There are actors who never get considered for the meaty roles while others who work successively with major producers in choice projects. You could call it favoritism, but it could also be because the producers just share a better rapport with those particular actors.
In a similar vein, there are movies that are all set to be launched but don’t manage to find the right investors. It could be that the movie’s director is not very popular with mainstream producers – or it could just be that the project lacks entertainment value and investors are unwilling to put their money on the line for it.
An actor, doing his very best, scoring rave reviews and yet, not getting offered new, interesting projects may rightfully feel that he is being sidelined. This is likely to make him feel sad. India’s media cited similar treatment as the major factor that eventually lead to the demise of the unfortunate Sushant.
But actor Shaan Shahid recently made an astute observation to me: “Yes, there may be favoritism but today’s young artistes also have other platforms where they can launch themselves. They have YouTube. If a channel or producers don’t show interest in them, they can prove their worth on their own.”
Shaan, telling it like it is.
Stuck at home due to the coronavirus, artistes could despair over the lack of work and worry about their next pay cheque – or they could utilize the time to hone their craft on social media. It may not yield the immediate remuneration that a TV or film project gives them but it can lead to a brand new revenue stream in the long run. YouTube does pay well, if you’re really and truly good at it.
Many artistes know this and have astutely launched their YouTube channels. Actress Saba Qamar, self-isolating at home due to the coronavirus and enjoying a much needed break after more than a year of rigorous shooting, decided that it was time to launch on to YouTube. One after the other, Saba has been streaming out videos that vary from comedies to thought-provoking commentaries that give you goosebumps.
Saba, of course, is an outstanding actress and has no shortage of work being offered to her. But she is also a veteran who has learnt how the industry works, through experience. As an actress, she likes to work in roles that intrigue her. With her own platform, she is able to create these roles for herself, in her own comfort zone. The politics of the world just don’t matter.
From a wider perspective, an artist launching himself or herself on to YouTube is similar to an actor working on his own film production. Waiting for the right role can take a long, long time – sometimes forever. And actors have often chosen to create opportunities for themselves by making their own movies. Some turn producers, others directors or scriptwriters – sometimes, all three. There are so many examples that come to mind, ranging from Clint Eastwood and George Clooney to Shahrukh Khan and Anushka Sharma. Pakistan’s nascent film industry also boasts a considerable list: Humayun Saeed, Shaan Shahid, Adnan Sarwar, Hareem Farooq, Ali Zafar and Sheheryar Munawar are all actors who have frequently worked in their own film productions. And why shouldn’t they invest in themselves? It makes sense.
Rather than wait for the perfect role, many actors opt to turn producers and invest in themselves. Makes sense. Humayun Saeed is a prime example.
Image: Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2
But not every actor has the deep pockets to finance the making of a movie or even a TV play. A YouTube video, on the other hand, can cost much less. For example, singer Asim Azhar’s career launched through YouTube. Now, with concerts at a standstill due to the coronavirus, Asim has returned to creating new content for his YouTube channel. Bilal Saeed is another very talented singer who continues to prove his mettle with successive YouTube hits. Young comedians, also, have utilized YouTube in order to build a name for themselves: Faiza Saleem, Danish Ali, Zaid Ali T, Shahveer Jaffrey, the list goes on and on!
Actress Samina Peerzada chose to reinvent her career with a talk show on YouTube that has proceeded to become very popular. Director Wajahat Rauf revels in playing the politically incorrect ‘Voiceover Man’ in his YouTube interviews.
Images via Instagram
Image via YouTube
Ayesha Omar, Juggun Kazim, Hira Tareen, Hania Aamir, Yashma Gill, Zahid Ahmed and Iqra Aziz are all actors with a presence on YouTube. Some chose to have their own channels because they wanted their fans to know and understand them better, without an interviewer playing middle-man. Others simply wanted to create unique content featuring themselves.
However, not all of them have been consistent with bringing out content but should they choose to do so, many of their career woes may get sorted.
And there could be no better time to get started than right now. The world, after all, is self-isolating at home and is spending much more time than usual on the Internet. Original, interesting content is likely to be appreciated. Saba Qamar, again, serves as a prime example. The actress’ videos – four so far – have earned thousands of hits within minutes of getting posted.
This is also a time, when, we have had time to contemplate over the world that we live in. Getting thwarted by favoritism can be frustrating for an actor but it is no longer necessary to wait for the right role. It is no longer a prerequisite to network with channel heads and producers in the hope that they consider you for an interesting role.
Why should talented actors allow themselves to get sidelined? And why should they fall prey to depression? They’ve got YouTube.
Ahmed Ali Akbar, I do hope that I see you on YouTube soon!