|The mega-flop show of a mega-hit serial (Gulls & Guys)
Persons under 18 years are not allowed. Since the programme will be recorded for television, the doors will be closed at 8:00 p.m. sharp." These were the words typed on the invitation card which over 1,000 people received for a show that was to mark the conclusion of PTV's mega-hit travelogue-cum-serial Gulls & Guys. The show did not start at 8:30 p.m. nor were the doors closed at 8:00 p.m. In fact, they remained open throughout the show which enabled many people to enter and leave throughout the proceedings.
Similarly, those who were under 18 looked more interested in the event than those who were actually invited. The crowd mostly comprised of school and college going 'girls and guys' with their parents in the background. And finally, instead of starting at 8:00 p.m., the show began at 9:55 (only two hours late).
Most people were asked to vacate the seats they had occupied wrongly as every now and then they were reminded to be seated on the ones allocated to them by the numbers on their passes. By looking at the seating arrangement itself, one got the impression that the show would be a success, but many had already left before the programme concluded.
Gulls & Guys - a John Player Gold Leaf sponsored programme - was directed by Shoaib Mansoor. It was a travelogue concerning six of the 17 countries, which were on the stopover list of Discovery. What is Discovery, you ask? Discovery was a Gold Leaf sponsored yacht, which was to sail through 17 countries in just 170 days. It's voyage, which was more commonly known as the Voyage of Discovery, was the brainchild of British American Tobacco and is till now the biggest international promotion undertaken by any foreign company in Pakistan. This 80ft tall Maxi racing yacht, captained by Joe Outred, on June 18 this year, set out on its mission and had Karachi as its 12th destination. The arrival of Discovery was celebrated, in Pakistan, with a grand finale held at the Marina Club, Karachi. The show also marked the conclusion of Gulls & Guys, which kept the viewers glued to their seats for 10 weeks. ShoMan (short for Shoaib Mansoor devised by Shoaib himself) was asked to do this interesting travelogue by the PTC in such a way that the Discovery's arriving ceremony could mark the conclusion of the programme. On September 19, at Karachi's Marina Club, veteran TV actor and compere Sajid Hasan began the proceedings when he announced the arrival of the six presenters Salman Ahmed, Junaid Jamshed, Fakhre Alam, Adnan Siddiqui, Shehryar Jahangir and Abdullah Mahmood on the stage. After the arrival of the 'Guys', there was an excellent display of fireworks, which approximately cost more than Rs. 1 lac. What was even more exciting was the use of television cameras, which were more than four in numbers.
The main theme of the programme was catchy and innovative. Sajid Hasan termed it "The Voyage of discovering Pakistani music," as it covered the Pakistani songs which were originally composed by our musicians and singers only to be later copied by the Bollywood people. The songs were, by the Indians, labeled as folk songs. When Sajid Hasan announced the Pakistani songs the staff handling the audio played the Indian version, with Sajid disclosing the name of the chor musician and singer. Seasoned Qawwal Badar Miandad Khan sang late Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's Mera Piya Ghar Aaya that was copied by Anu Malik in India. Azra Riaz came next by singing Neend Rani Andian and was followed by Mohammed Ali Shyhaki who sang Tasawwur Khanum's Tu Meri Zindagi Hai, which was sung by Kumar Sanu in India for Nadeem-Shravan's Aashiqui (I couldn't figure out which version he was singing as his voice resembles the latter's). Junaid Jamshed also sang his evergreen song Woh Kaun Thi, which is nowadays shown on MTV sung by a lesser known Jo Jo, while Saleem Javed reproduced Aalam Lohar's Jugni, which he sang way back in 1984. Awaz sang their Janay Kaun Thi Haseena. Gul Bahar Bano who sang Musarrat Nazir's Aahista Aahista was the last singer to perform at the show.
In between the songs, the presenters were asked to perform the assignments they were given such as singing, cooking and counting up to ten. Shehryar was, before the programme, confident of the edge he had over the others in the cooking assignment, but it was sad to see him at the 6th spot as a cook! Fakhr and Adnan cooked with their heart in it, while the others didn't take long in leaving the kitchen. It was Adnan who was eventually declared the winner by Carlton Hotel's Chef Mr Swinn. While the presenters were busy cooking, the co-compare Sonia Khan asked Captain Joe Outred of Discovery to select 17 lucky winners from one million entries. It was later learned that Moin Akhtar was the first choice as host of the show but his sudden illness left the plans in a mess. Sajid Hasan came to the rescue of the organizers when he accepted to host the show on a very short notice. He did a very good job along with co-comperes Sonia Khan, Soma Saadat and Mehwish Bukhari.
On the stage, Adnan Siddiqui imitated Shoaib Mansoor and Salman said that Shoaib Mansoor does the work of 20 men and expects others to do so. By seing Shoaib's worried-yet-always-working face, one knew how correct Salman was. All the presenters were asked to sing a song in that country's language, cook a native dish of the country they were asked to represent, earn a day's meal in that country and do something they would never dream of doing in Pakistan and except Salman Ahmed, who represented England, all the others were asked to count from 1 to 10 in that country's native language. Salman on the other hand was asked to learn the names and colours of the railway and subway stations of London.
As those who followed the programmes know, they all earned a meal and did something unusual in that country. What they had to do in the finale were the remaining assignments. Surprisingly, on D-Day, all fared well. They all counted from 1 to 10, cooked a native dish and sang a song. Abdullah won the contest while Shehryar came second, as the margin of defeat was a mere one point. Abdullah, after winning responded by saying, "Everyone hopes but I tried for the best." All praises for him, on winning, and to the director, on directing such a successful programme. The final programme, though badly handled by the management and which ended just before the clock struck one, was a feather in Shoaib Mansoor's as the script and the assignments were his ideas.