Maya Khan is not the culprit here. She is a puppet in the hands of the rating-mongers. Stop watching this trash and they’ll stop airing it.
In a sprawling metropolis known to the heathen as Karachi, a new kind of malevolent despot has reared her not-so-ugly head. Maya Khan, the host of SAMAA TV’s flagship morning show, has stepped up to the plate and become the most notorious TV personality in recent memory, almost overnight. That her descent into notoriety is swifter even than her erstwhile counterpart, Meher Bukhari’s was, is cause for little concern. What does matter is that the well-endowed lass is now the target of a social media witch-hunt and has invoked the ire of white-collar bourgeois individuals from Gilgit to Gadani. The delectable damsel, whose only crime so far has been the mobilisation of the Conglomerate Of Concerned Karachiites Bullying Lovers Out of Clifton Karachi’s Enormous Recreational Sites, is now being billed an Antichrist.
But who is Maya Khan? And how can she make otherwise self-respecting women run full pelt through a public park, under the watchful eyes of several cameras, as if this were a taping of an episode of Baywatch? To answer this question, we may have to go back to the beginning. A time when Nadia Khan, the ‘Happy To You’ queen, ruled the airwaves. Many pretenders, such as Juggan, Noor, Sana Tariq etc tried to emulate her seemingly-inane formula, but to no avail. For every scantily-clad aerobics instructor and random-segment-host that the others managed to scrape together, Nadia did one better.
This game of one-up(wo)manship continued until the day that Nadia got her ample posterior booted out of the Jeem Group, for godonlyknowswhat. With the queen out of the picture, the pretenders queued up to replace her. In the battle for morning show supremacy, there was nothing that these women did not try. Live TV weddings, matchmaking, stories of heartbreak, reuniting lost family members and long-lost lovers and even busting the occasional cuckold; it was all a no-holds barred affair. Then, somewhere in the year 2010, Maya Khan Rind, a pleasantly-attired well-meaning lady from the ranks of the landed gentry, took to the airwaves at the ungodly hour that is 8:00am.
While I can proudly say that I’ve never woken up early enough to catch the show itself, I’ve seen more than my fair share of repeat telecasts. It also helped that I was once employed by the same channel that currently retains Maya’s services and was, therefore, intimately involved with the day-to-day disasters and bloopers that comprised this particular morning blend. And to be honest, I found the show to be rather mundane: she talked about the same old issues that everyone else did. She laughed, cried, wailed, shouted, became infuriated and seemed helpless like all the rest of us. She was, and probably still is, quite human. This was the charm which, in my opinion, lured many a viewer to her show every morning.
Things started to go her way and in the span of a few short months, ‘Subah Saveray Maya Kay Saath’ became the envy of morning shows across the country and everyone wanted a piece of the fair maiden who was serenading the people of Pakistan so sweetly. Then, one fine day in the year 2011, SAMAA TV ran a news package on couples who go out on dates in public parks. They did not invent the subject, mind you, as reports on public displays of affection in places such as the Mazar-e-Quaid in Karachi and the Lawrence Gardens and Model Town Park in Lahore had been urban myths since the beginning of time. But nobody bothered. Mostly because all producers, TV personalities and their cameramen have, at one time or the other, indulged in what we affectionately call ‘parking’.
However, when this lady, having led a perfectly sheltered life, brought her rightist upper-class sensibilities to the small screen, it was a recipe for disaster. You see, contrary to popular opinion, there is no great oversight on content when it comes to shows of a ‘soft’ nature. Morning shows too, are considered ‘soft’ viewing, therefore, nobody on the top rungs of the corporate ladder pays much attention to their content. As long as the ratings are coming in and the people get what they want, nobody has any problems.
The lady in question, apparently, also did not have any qualms about marketing herself as the siren of SAMAA, dressing up as an Arab dancing girl and riding magic carpets as the tune from ‘Bewitched’ played in the background. Everyone was cashing in on the Maya bandwagon because her formula seemed to work. So when she started going around public parks, asking people for their nikahnamas, you can imagine how surprised people were. From being the darling of young men and women everywhere (she did run a matchmaking service on her show for some time), she became an evil home-wrecker, out to rob parents and children of their right to privacy and a good time, not to mention a healthy relationship.
Why would any sane individual do such a thing? Maybe because in her mind, she is doing the right thing. Right by her employers, that is.
The truth is, you can report Maya Khan to PEMRA. You could get 100,000 signatures on a petition calling on SAMAA to kick her out. But that would not accomplish anything. Like it or not, Maya Khan is not the culprit here. She is a puppet in the hands of the rating-mongers. Stop watching this trash and they’ll stop airing it.