October 14, 2010

The curious case of Meera Jee

If you were to read the 18th October copy of Newsweek Pakistan, you would come across an interview that they conducted with Miss Meera Jee. The first thing that you will undoubtedly notice is that Newsweek calls her a 34 year old; well, amen to that.

But this post is not to antagonize the already hewn respect that Meera draws from the Pakistani crowd. Granted that her demeanor and her antics over, well, her entire life, have been a major cause of fun and laughter for the majority of us but reading between the lines tells me that she is a much more intelligent and mature woman that we make her out to be.

And besides, ever since that seedy Hanif Abbasi of PML – N came on TV and threw up fistfuls of dirty grime on the artiste community of Pakistan, Meera’s stature climbed automatically. Her political affiliation with Musharraf arises from the fact that he went out of “his way to help her, after her Indian film controversy in 2005.”

But the story doesn’t end there. You see I have to very much agree with Meera on the fact that the only difference between Hollywood, Bollywood and our own so called Lollywood, is the difference of opportunities. Whereas state regulations and laws ensure the maximum benefit for artists of all sorts internationally, Hanif Abbasi’s comments suffice to tell the story about the sordid affairs our artistic community has to face. What is particularly demeaning and bewildering is the fact that it was the artist community of Pakistan that joined hands and stepped up its efforts to do everything that it possibly could, ranging from composing special songs to raise the morale of the survivors and get the greedy amongst us to cough up some money, to arranging special concerts to raise money for the affected. On the other hand what did Hanif Abbasi’s precious PML – N do except have its legislators unanimously reject Shahbaz Sharif’s plea of donating a one month salary to the CM Fund?

Why our artistic community clamors after Musharraf is because he was sympathetic to their cause, and he understood their importance in trying to present a new image of Pakistan to the world. What our democratic parties fail to recognize, particularly the PML – N, is that being seen hanging out with members of the banned terrorist organizations such as LeT or Jamat-ud-Dawa is only going to cause hysteria amongst the people, and project that negative image on to the world map which we’re always cursing, and speaking out against because that’s not “really us”. Not to gloat or anything, but we are what the world sees, not what we tell it.

The PML – N has already caused enough sentimental damage to this country and its people with its unwavering support of the Taliban, and the vernacular pleas of Shahbaz Sharif to them to spare his province. In order to harbinger these extremist sentiments for personal interests, the Sharifs have trampled all over the cultural aesthetics of Punjab and Lahore. Why then does it surprise them to see artists pining after Musharraf?

But let’s get back to Meera who was in flow against the current regime. She very aptly stated that there was nothing substantial that had been seen on the government’s part after the devastating floods, and as far as she could see, the despair and depravity amongst the masses will continue to exist even 30 years from now. Do I disagree with her? I don’t. The amount of money donated to the victims is substantial, but as is the case, we don’t know what became of it or where it was spent. The government did not make sure of any transparency measures and the situation on the ground remains appalling. In the sad world of Pakistani politics, it is generally considered ok to assume that the government in charge is actually guilty of doing whatever thing it is you suspect it of doing.

While Meera may not have won the talent accolades for her not so pristine acting, she has won accolades in having her heart in the right place. For someone who faces the music every time she opens her mouth, that is a remarkable thing.