Music is the manna for soul and can lift one’s spirit from the depths of despondency. While western performers have danced to the tunes of music making ‘people come together’, our very own melodic magicians have transformed it to something ever-lasting. It is a universal language of peace and bonding.

When we think of contemporary eastern music, the names of Nusrat Fateh Ali, AR Rehman and Adnan Sami Khan come to mind. Musical geniuses they are in their own rite, there is an underlying commonality between these three. These maestros, true to their calling, are free from the shackles which are borne from biases based on ethnicities, color, religion or creed, rising above and beyond borders.

Point in question, the musical reality show “Sur Kshetra,” where musical talents from India and Pakistan are showcased. If truth be told, I have seen the program once or twice on TV, but have heard people rave about it vociferously. Views range from about the glib performances by opposing musical team leaders: Indian stalwart Himesh Reshamiya and our very own Atif Aslam to sensationalist altercations between panel judges.

Indeed, media especially reality TV in any form is sensationalist in nature with participating ‘actors’ performing the script to a tee. That said; it is crucial to realize that there are some ground rules to stick to. Squabbles may occur when two opposing elements collide, in this case two lifelong foes. It was inevitable! And with the ever-burgeoning market for reality TV, we have all but forgotten the fundamental idea behind such programs: mass entertainment.

Looking at the TV show closely, one can easily notice flaws right from the very onset. It seems that those in charge were in quite a bit of a hurry to get on with the production. A half-cooked idea, coupled with a weak script and on top of that teams belonging to countries notorious for their historical rivalry – was a predictable pandemonium just itching to happen. What our TV moguls fail to grasp, let alone realize, is that success of any show is only possible with the undivided support of the viewers. Indeed, conflict help raking in TV ratings, but it requires something extra for a show to last more than a mere season (or even two for that matter).

Although ratings have relatively gone down for shows like American Idol, we can still remember the lilting voice of Fantasia Bureno or Chris Daughtry the rockstar. It was the voice, the energy and performance coupled with great script and stimulating (read: heated) debates among the panelists over MUSIC, as opposed to diva antics and a partisan approach by professionals, which separates the show from the rest.

Pushy judges bring a zesty flavor to a musical show. Despite being brash and insulting, what Simon Cowell contributed to American Idol and Sharon Osbourne to the X Factor was a recognition of the voice, carved out by their snide remarks and unrelenting criticism. The result: fame and fortune for the participants and massive worldwide appeal of the show. The only accomplishment the Sur Kshetra team can claim is their biased and narrow approach to judging – basing opinion not on the quality of sound and melody, but on that of frontiers and boundaries

Wholesome TV entertainment is only possible if we change our tactics. Aman ki asha is not about pitting rivals against one another, it is about collaboration. Unless we do that, pure entertainment and all kinds of ASHA we so enthusiastically ‘stage’ will be lost in oblivion



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