Kanwal Naseer: The Pride of Pakistan’s Television Industry

Celebrating the 54 Years of Career Excellence of Pakistan’s First Female Television Broadcaster

It is true that the way of the pioneer is always rough therefore only an extraordinary person has the courage to take this less trodden path. There is no denying the fact that the Television industry in Pakistan is one of the most thriving industries with numerous TV channels generating large scale revenues. Many Years ago Neil Armstrong took a small step on the moon which was a giant leap for mankind. Similarly a small announcement by Kanwal Naseer brought into existence the reality of television industry in Pakistan which has become a source of employment for millions of people. Kanwal Naseer is the daughter of the Legendary Mohi Hameed and continues to be a source of inspiration for the present generation. Recently team Yolo had the honor of meeting the legendary Kanwal Naseer and this is what she has to say to our readers.

Tell us about your early life being the daughter of the legendry Mohni Hameed?

I just happened to be at the right places at the right time. I was a kid growing up in Lahore my mother was Mohni Hameed the legend of Radio Pakistan. Script writers who are considered icons such as Syed Imtiaz Ali Taj, Rafi Pir, A Hameed, Ashfaq Ahmed and Banu Qudsia wrote their plays always keeping her in mind. Syed Imtiaz Ali Taj would write on the script (for Mohni). She did diverse characters yet she was the simplest and most humble person I have met in my life. We were happy unpretentious children who grew up in a very happy surrounding. Pakistan had just being created it was school and radio that was my life. I was in the Convent of Jesus and Mary which was very close to where Radio Pakistan was and just across the road was Faiz Ahmed Faizi’s house. Faiz Sahab’s daughter Muneeza Hashmi was my friend so we both played in the lawns of Radio Pakistan. I did not realize that these men were the pioneers they were so tall full of substance. Back then as a 6 or 7 year kid I did not realize that all the love I was getting came from people who were nursery of the best in poetry, music and drama which was Radio Pakistan’s greatest point.

You joined radio when you were only 7 or 8 years old. So did you have the typical dream of one day becoming a doctor or engineer or you wanted to be a famous radio personality?

The greatest musicians were at the Radio Pakistan such as Khalil Ahmed and Feroz Nizami. I would look at Suraiya Multanikar Ji and think may be one day I will be able to sing like her. I had finished school and went to Kinnaird College so a friend of my Mother’s asked her what is she going to be? Is she going to a doctor? My mother immediately said radio is there. Therefore somewhere in the back of my mind I always thought that once I complete my studies may be I will become a producer on radio. Producers were so authoritative the few big names that I have just mentioned had to listen to them. Other than becoming a radio producer I would think of becoming a newscaster.


You grew up in Lahore so what childhood memories of Lahore do you have since the city has changed so much that  it has now become a concrete Jungle?


Lahore is very close to my heart I was born there it is a city of gardens and huge trees. I think today’s children even don’t know what a Peepal tree looks like. Mall road had these tall beautiful trees we lived near Lawrence garden which is now Fatima Jinnah Park and my parents would go for a walk in the evenings. Even in those days we used to wear net dopatta’s and catch a lot of fireflies. The Egerton Road and Davis Road where my school was had a row of trees which were the flame of the forest. We learnt to love and respect nature. When cities grow and new technologies come we want to put in metros and stuff which is good for premier of the people.  However, you lose out on things that mattered. There are cities in the world which are very modern but are not filled up with concrete.

You have the privilege to be Pakistan Television’s first female broadcaster so please share with us your feelings when you met president Ayub Khan?

Tariq Aziz had told me that the President had come, back in that day a kid of 16 had never seen a president. To be faced with a personality like President Ayub Khan Field Marshal was amazing. Later on in life I become so close to his family his daughter in law is one of my dearest friends. That day the whole cabinet was standing in front of me including Shoaib Sahab and Bhutto Sahab. I was asked to say congratulations today television has been introduced in Pakistan. Tears were stuck in my throat and I did not know which way to look but I still looked in the lens. From that day onwards that smile that came into my being is now part of my personality and character.


Nowadays television drama’s for the most part focus on family feud, domestic violence and aggression against women which is quite contrary to the old PTV drama. So is the media now showing the true face of our society or is it how the media wants to shape our society?

Drama was the basis of radio Pakistan later drama became the backbone of Pakistan Television.  Our dramas were watched in the neighboring countries however the difference between Pakistan Televisions’ drama and today’s drama is commercialization. Pakistan Television is a family television. Today’s plays are perhaps showing you what is happening in the society however it is also taking away our norms. A lot of good is happening because of these plays as people are getting aware of  things. However, youngsters feel that we are glorifying things that should not happen in the society. The kind of issues that need to be brought to the forefront could be brought through Anwar Maqsood or Ashfaq Ahmed’s programs.

Since you have been an integral part of PTV’s initial live broadcasting so what are your views on today’s live morning shows which have wedding weeks, discussions on paranormal, beauty tips and so forth so on? 

People are not going to be happy with my answer. What is your target audience a woman who got up in the morning and sent her children to school? Women want to feel entertained so you wear clothes that are worth lakhs so what do women get out of that. Casting out demons, weddings, and teaching how to have a fair skin tone. Why do we have this concept of trying to have a lighter skin tone? Concepts and values have changed one has to look at a deeper meaning of a morning show as it should give more substance to the audience. There is nothing wrong in music or trying to be happy. However, we have changed for instance, when there is a sale one feels that tomorrow is the end of the world so nobody is going to get any clothes. That is the effect of the morning shows we wore Khadar and were accepted that way. Television is all about glamour and entertainment but it should also make a society.


What is your message for YOLO and the youth?

This interview I have given for YOLO and today’s youth. You have potential if you have talent don’t think you can’t do it.  You may be an IT specialist, a doctor or a professor but do not take music out of your life. Read Sufi poets it is a treasure trove find it and think about it but do not ever think that perfection is only for God. Keep your feet on the ground, be humble forgive people and love people because that is what makes us human.

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