Barfi Laddu is the latest offering from our Pakistani comedy circuits to have hit the television. Directed by Syed Ramish Rizvi, the play stars Ali Safina and Sumbul Iqbal in the lead roles with a number of A-list comics and veterans like Ismail Tara, Nayyar Ejaz, Behroze Sabzwari, Zaheen Tahira and Isra Ghazal. The show seemed like a promising rom-com, judging from its teasers and OST, however, the reality is quite different.
Pakistani television has had a long history with comedy, having produced some iconic gems like Fifty-Fifty, Aangan Terha and Alif Noon to name a few. Sometime in the last decade however, we shifted to producing slapstick and screwball comedy, which wasn’t so bad, at least not for some years. Not too surprisingly, it now seems to be redundant, with some shows refusing to end, *cough* Bulbulay *cough*.
The last decade saw some new comedy serials being produced with fresh vibes; something the audience hadn’t seen before, something that showed a very real side of our society and was relatable for the masses. Shows like Yeh Zindagi Hai set the bar for realistic comedy, however, it soon became repetitive and since it was so successful, a number of other productions started to incorporate a similar style for comic relief in their shows.
Screengrab from Yeh Zindagi Hai
We didn’t just stop there though. With Bulbulay’s runaway success, we decided that it would be a great idea to keep it running for almost a decade, never once considering the idea that it may be an overkill. As long as it gets ratings, it’s airtime worthy, right?
When Barfi Laddu reared its head, we hoped that it wouldn’t be just another slapstick comedy show on Pakistani idiot box, after all that’s what the comedy genre on television has boiled down to. However, the recent episodes, particularly the one where an uncle eggs Laddu on to slap his newly wed wife to assert dominance, have confirmed our fears. Trivializing abuse and downplaying it as comedy is something that’s taking it too far.
Screengrab from Barfi Laddu
Incorporating or appropriating a toxic idea for comic relief or tapping into mindless and insensitive comedy may seem like an ingenious idea, however it also raises an important question; where do we draw the line?
Discrediting the experiences of people who actually suffer through such situations is extremely problematic, even if it’s under the guise of comedy and not to be taken seriously. It should be taken seriously. Propagating it on national television as comedy is essentially exposing vulnerable audiences to situations that have the potential to be extremely traumatizing for them.
With a platform as big as the television at their disposal, content creators really need to brush up on content. We hope that our producers and writers take note of such things in future and make it a point to be socially aware and responsible, knowing that their content is available to millions of impressionable masses.