Nouman Ijaz highlights the ‘gundagardi’ of Pakistan’s entertainment industry

by Asif Ali
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In August 2020, filmmaker and host Rafay Rashdi’s online talks how Behind the Curtain ended up on Amazon Prime for the US and UK audiences. Now, the second season of his show has initiated, and in an episode featuring Nouman Ijaz, we can see how Take Two will be uncovering the various problems faced by artists in the film and television industry of Pakistan.

In this episode, Ijaz, who has spent decades in the showbiz, can be seen exposing loopholes nobody talks about. Upon being asked whether artists are denied payments so often that they have no option but to name and shame, Ijaz said, “There is no actor or producer in Pakistan who can say their payment is not stuck.”

“Even my payments are stuck,” he continued, “how can I talk about anybody else? One channel owes me Rs45-50 million and another channel owes me Rs20-25 million.”

The Dar Si Jaati Hai Sila actor went on to assert that these are “big channels”. “It’s been four-five years since one channel hasn’t paid me and three years since another. You go asking for your money and they make you run after several other people. A producer has to beg in front of the broadcaster for his own money and the broadcaster pays him the bare minimum from that amount just to shut him up,” claimed the veteran. 

Disappointed, Ijaz went on to ask what is happening in this country. “What ethics, morals, professionalism, contracts and laws are you talking about? Who will hold them accountable? Your own co-producer will not stand with you if he has a jugaar for himself. Whoever has a jugaar is not be bothered by the struggles of those who don’t,” he said angrily.

Alhamdulillah we don’t need an outsider to ruin us,” quipped the Ullu Baraye Farokht actor. What’s more? He reinstated how actors are made to work like animals in production houses and if they refuse to comply with the demands of the broadcaster, they are blackmailed. “A broadcaster even blackmailed a producer despite having committed something to him. He threatened to blacklist the artist whilst crying about his own financial situation. These people will figuratively put a gun on the artists’ heads to make sure they deliver,” said Ijaz.

Reiterating the age-old dilemma which often surfaces when speaking of naming and shaming, Ijaz then stated that “If you refuse to comply or take a stand, as an actor, your future is destroyed. This is the gundagardi (mafia) of the entertainment industry. Jiski laathi uski bhens (the might is right).”

He went as far as comparing the way the showbiz industry runs to the way animals exist in a jungle. “There is no security; no one will even take responsibility for the money you’ll have to pay if you end up in the hospital. It’s like a jungle,” concluded the actor.

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