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Controversy and offensive remarks seem rampant in local celebrity culture as new scandals come to light ever so often.

The story has been contributed by Sadiq Saleem, a UAE based Pakistani writer. He may be contacted on www.sidsaidso.com & @sadiqidas on Instagram.*

If there is any force that can land stars into hot waters, then it is the stars themselves. No matter how hard they try, one wrong move can break, as they say, all hell loose.

The misbehavior, misstatements and mistakes by our artists time & again, is a proof that our celebrities need media training more than anyone else. Even the most civilized and educated have not been able to handle public criticism. Remember the ‘not so decent’ reaction by Ahad Raza Mir and his warfare with Shireen Mazaari on twitter? Well, that may be a news from the year gone by, but this year is no different. We have had multiple instances where stars (as they would like to be addressed) have been publicly irresponsible in their conduct, in one way or the other.

The year started with the controversy’s favourite child Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar’s verbal spat with Marvi Sirmed and it soon became the talk of the town. Then Maria B came in the spotlight where she addressed the Prime Minister with tearful eyes and perfect blow dry and backdrop (don’t forget the chandelier!). That content was unabashedly criticized by the public at large as insensitive and immoral.

Yasir Hussain is another actor who has been feeding the controversies due to his abrupt and mostly demeaning posts through insta-stories. Be it his opinion on fellow artists like Mahira Khan or a serious matter like Rishi Kapoor’s death, Yasir never refrains from making inappropriate jokes.

Speaking of inappropriateness, Iffat Omar’s interrogation with Meera and the way she was pushing her to disclose her age was again an example of what not to ask if you are a talk-show host. Infact, these are basic etiquettes that every human must follow. Meera who was clearly a victim in this case later became a publicity fodder when she recorded a video in a hotel room requesting the prime minster to pull her out of New York as she has exhausted all her savings and she would like to die in her homeland. Later, her father in law dismissed her claims and said that she has been spending her time with her family there. Another publicity stunt that went horribly wrong!

The internet jumped on Ushna Shah when she raised a question if medical practitioners should be spending their time in making videos to celebrate the recoveries of their patients. She smartly managed to calm everyone down with an explanatory note that followed. Sadaf Kanwal’s comment ‘Happy Birthday Mama’ and her cycling pictures with Shehroz could be argued as moments from Sadaf’s private life but the timing was clearly not right, especially if one is using a public forum. Shehroz had just announced his divorce with Syra and people were already speculating Sadaf to be the reason for their split. Amidst all this, if you throw pictures like these, it only works as adding fuel to the fire.

While the whole world was mourning over the death of Irrfan Khan, Aamir Liaquat’s made a callous remark about the Irrfan & Sridevi’s death; that was again wrong at so many levels. This incident made its way to several media platforms in India and their followers criticized (read cursed) our artists left right and center. Adnan immediately issued a public apology to make good the loss however Adnan’s dignified move was questioned by the public when he mocked Pakistani Cricketer & ex-Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed’s speech impairment in the Ramzan game show few days ago. That was quite shallow too. That act was heavily criticized on the social media and Adnan Siddiqui apologized to the cricketer in the same game show. It is natural to get carried away in a game show where competitiveness is at its peak but then, these are not laymen, these are icons and national stars playing and their conduct has a long lasting impact.

The latest in the list (as of this hour) is Naumaan Ijaz, who in a recently surfaced video gave his two cents over popular actors Humayun Saeed and Adnan Siddiqui. According to him ‘if Humayun keeps working, he might learn how to act someday’. He later mentioned in a live session with Munib Nawaz that it was blown out of proportion by ‘Sastay bloggers’. Well Naumaan may be a far better actor than many in the industry today, but that doesn’t allow him to demean the fellow actors who are equally loved by the public at large.

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Everyone whose name I have mentioned above have had a pattern of crossing the lines every now and then but what surprised me the most was the way the veteran stylist Nabila handled public’s expression of anger and criticism when she shared the news that she will be opening the salons. She indeed has employed highest level of hygiene standards at her salon but the message did not go through as she intended. She has a strong PR team therefore, she should have let her PR do the talking. Sometimes what you mean is not how exactly it is perceived.

Internationally, artists have been fined and sent behind the bars for their remarks that involve racism, sexism or mocking disability of a certain kind and consequently the law and the fear of public shaming keep their words in check. Why go far, take example of the conduct in Bollywood in the current times; the way they are coming forward through ideas like ‘100 Artists’ and ‘I for India’ to entertain and generate funds to combat Covid is a great way to demonstrate the collective social & moral responsibility and how they uplift each other and the entire fraternity.

On the other end, if you watch closely, anything and everything to do with Pakistani stars, big or small, on social media or on television or in print, barring a few sensible ones, you will be reminded of the despicable mentality that keeps on offending masses at large. Either it is due to bad PR management, sheer ignorance or the greed to remain in the news, but they don’t realize the damage it brings to their image in public.

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There is a famous adage that goes, ‘If you are in a hole, stop digging further!’. Only if our stars knew, when and where to stop!

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