Pakistani Glee Using Music to Break Down Taboos

Glee has been known for tackling some pretty heavy subject matter through the medium of song: bullying, homophobia, and, more recently, school shootings (which I discussed back in April). Now, Pakistan is going to be tackling issues often considered off limits in its answer to the successful musical drama, called Taan.


There are a few major differences: instead of attending a regular high school, the students in Taan attend a musical academy. The taboos covered might look a little different: while homophobia is an issue in Pakistan, where being homosexual is still illegal, Taan will also delve into issues that aren’t as prevalent in America, such as a relationship between a Taliban extremist and a Christian woman. And, unlike in North America, taking a stand in Pakistan to defend public values is very rare. Making a show like Glee in Pakistan is a lot more fraught with difficulty as opposed to America, where producers don’t have to worry about what may or may not be censored out of the show.

However, much like the North American Glee, Taan is following the tried and true format of reworking older, classic songs and making them more appealing to a younger audience with more modern tastes. Producer Nabeel Sarwar must know that he might encounter some issues, but he is determined to take on the issues he cares about, saying “…the truth has to come out somewhere. Where are we going to put a line in the sand and say, ‘Look, this is what we are’?”

When I first watched Glee, I admit, I thought it was entertaining enough, but not super impressive. But as the seasons went on, I had to give them credit: they were tackling some of today’s toughest taboos, and doing it in a way that was directly accessed by today’s youth– something I was impressed by. Sarwar has clearly seen the potential for using this medium to try and affect change in Pakistan, and I really hope Taan sees the success in Pakistan that Glee has here in North America.

For more information on Taan, check out this article on NDTV, courtesy of Agence France-Presse: 


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