Is PEMRA’s Action on Udaari Justified?

By Bushra Hassan.

There is no doubt that Pakistan’s film and drama industries have progressed a lot in the last decade. Dramas are being made on different number of topics and are appreciated by our viewers. They do not only represent our norms and culture but they are also reality depicted. They are more than a typical Saas Bahu stories. In the name of freedom of expression, we have witnessed on numerous occasions that multiple dramas have shown inappropriate or vulgar content which is totally against our norms, morals and religious values. We live in a society where people are still not very liberal and do not accept anything that exceeds their religious and moral values. As electronic media is supposed to represent our society as we expect Pakistani media to produce content that we can watch with our families.

PEMRA’s Action on Udaari Justified_01

Drama serial “Udaari” reflects a very strong culture of Pakistani rural areas, portraying the lives of people living in slums and their problems. Recently, it was found on-airing controversial content in which Khalu (uncle) is shown harassing his Bhanji (niece). In another scene the same guy is shown asking for sexual relationship with his step daughter who is of a very young age. After that, people started speaking about it on social media specially on twitter asking that whether the people responsible for this drama would watch such content with their families or not. After receiving many complaints, PEMRA took notice and demanded answers and justification from the channel by the 25th of this month.

Here we have two points to be discussed, one is the society in which we live, where in backward areas, such incidents do happen where people blackmail their own relatives ignoring the nature of relation with them. Second, either on-airing such immoral content through electronic medium is justified or not.

There is no doubt that our social problems should be reflected through such mediums so that everybody in this country could understand the pain and problems which our people suffer, particularly in backward areas where there is no concept of education and government writ. But, apart from that, if our media starts showing such hidden issues, as we see in one of the conflicting scenes of “Udaari”, then of course people are going to raise voices as the drama of prime time is supposed to be family oriented and Pakistanis still bear strong ethical interests and religious norms.

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PEMRA while taking notice of this issue has once again done a great job. Being a federal institution, it is the responsibility of the respective institution to maintain proper check and balance and imply strong policy for controversial contents. PEMRA’s role while dealing such scenarios has always been very impressive, be it a news channel or some entertainment channel. PEMRA ensures that the content of any channel should not harm religious values particularly. In the near past, PEMRA has taken strict actions against such kind of content and has even banned channels for the not following the PEMRA’s policies.

Here, let me add that I am not against showing the reality depicted in stories as many would think that this is the duty of our media to highlight the hidden issues. My point here is that our writers and producers should keep our norms and religious values in their minds. It is the responsibility of producers to reflect the issues in such a way that is acceptable for our society and the purpose is fulfilled too.

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In the scene of Udaari where uncle is trying to harass his niece could be shown in other possible ways. The way it has been shown is completely inappropriate and hurts the feelings of general audience. There could be a lot of other possible ways, through which the message could be delivered. For such visual scenes, the incomplete relevant facial expressions are enough to show what you are trying to show, but portraying an elaborating picture of the whole scene is way beyond our values.

There is another possible way through which such matters and issues can be resolved initially so that later on, respective channel and drama could not suffer any legal action. Before on-airing any drama, producers should get their dramas approved from censor board. PEMRA also needs to make this procedure a proper rule because if any such kind of issue occurs, it also depicts negative image of the country as we know that Pakistani dramas are being watched in different countries even in India.

When we discuss particularly about Electronic Medium then the range does not last within the boundaries of a country. People outside the country also follow the concepts which we show them in our dramas. By including such kind of controversial scenes, question marks are obviously being raised on the credibility of cultural and religious values and our concerns towards protecting and ensuring those values. Therefore, entertainment channels, production houses and PEMRA should collectively make such policies through which such kind of controversies could be avoided in future and our moral and cultural ethics couldn’t be harmed as well.

Bushra Hassan

The writer is a Research Analyst and holds a strong command over Entertainment Industry.

She can be reached at:

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