With the advent of Spotify in the country, Pakistani podsphere is sure to bloom. Until then, follow these three amazing free podcasts and the trailblazers hosting them
It is safe to say that eavesdropping is a national pastime for most Pakistanis; perhaps more so in the pandemic era where human interactions have become both scarce and deadly. It is only natural that we see podcasts dominate the webspace in a major way.
What’s better than to have people inviting you to listen in to their conversations?
I hopped on the podcast bandwagon last year and believe me, the din of human voices chatting about this and that in the background, had transformational effects. Podcasts elevated my most mundane activities, be it dishwashing, exercising or watching endless covid newsreel, by leaving me with thoughtful takeaways and a less panicked heart.
The three Pakistani podcasters I have picked out today are no Joe Rogan or Tim Ferriss (yet) but still, are truly independent creators making truly original content, and thriving at that. I call them ‘chroniclers of culture’. They understand the need for cultural conversations and to immortalize the evolving national pop culture through words (podcasts!). Here is Ernest Becker reminding us of the importance of culture.
The real world is simply too terrible to admit. It tells man that he is a small trembling animal who will someday decay and die. Culture changes all of this, makes man seem important, vital to the universe. Immortal in some ways.Ernest Becker
The Pakistan Experience
Host: Shehzad Ghias Shaikh
He is often referred to as that social media star who ‘wears many hats ‘(don’t they all?). I would simply use the label, ‘social commentator’ for Shaikh, at the risk of sounding clichěd. But then, cliches are true and the guy is posting nuanced, (and super long) commentaries on all cultural happenings under the sun. On any given day, you will find him championing Aurat March and mental health awareness or lamenting our colonial mindsets.
But when he is not fighting twitter trolls, he is sitting with the most brilliant minds from a diverse range of industries -Technology, Entertainment, Academia, to name a few. This is not a specialized podcast, rather a self described way for ‘looking to tell stories about Pakistan through lost art of conversations’, and much like Shaikh’s writing, it is long. Most episodes hit the 3-hour mark and could do with some editing. I usually come out a more enlightened (and drained) person at the end of each one of them.
What happens when a group of frustrated, censored, Indie directors come for a ’round table’? Truth bombs are dropped left, right and centre. This interesting episode saw Sarmad Khoosat (Manto) fresh out of the Zindagi Tamasha fiasco, Iram Parveen Bilal (Josh), Saim Sadiq (Darling) and the great Jami (Moor). True to their indie-ness, the guests discussed what’s wrong with Pakistan’s film industry today. Needless to say a certain Jawani franchise was the butt of all jokes (and rightly so).
Jami exploding with zero filters about the hypocrisy of the left – the so called liberals (progressives)- who fail to show support for the likes of Meesha Shafi or come out in favor of Saba Qamar (Wazir Khan mosque controversy). We feel ya Jami !!
The Mooroo Podcast
Host: Taimoor Salahuddin
A list referring to Pakistani webspace and not mentioning Mooroo? That’s a khula tazaad. But then, he doesn’t upload episodes that frequently (how unfair, Mooroo). When a guy is a vlogger, rapper, thinker, teacher (you have to check out his Crash-Course style ‘Mooroo ke khayalat‘ series), he should be sharing his gayaan more regularly with us through his podcasts.
If you admire him for his exceptional video editing skills, you would surely like him as a witty conversationalist who isn’t afraid to make fun of himself (that’s kinda his thing). Most of his guests are from the entertainment industry, but they end up sharing more of their personal journeys, philosophies on life and anecdotes that reveal the person behind the artist. Let’s just say his podcast is the less-sappy version of Samina Peerzada’s (extremely memeable) YouTube show.
This podcast fulfilled our ( ahem…my) ultimate fantasy of Adnan Malik talking about cow milk. If this podcast makes you wish for Adnan Malik to host his own podcast, then you aren’t alone. The guy is a well-read, thoughtful artist with some strict rituals to guide him through the hazy showbiz world.
Mooroo lighting a cigarette (yup while recording) as Adnan talks about the need to be open about male puberty, arousals, and sexual frustrations, going as far as saying ‘85% of marriages in Pakistan are unhappy marriages’, with so much activistic abandon that I couldn’t help but break into virtual clapping.
Thought Behind Things Podcast
Host: Syed Muzamil Hasan Zaidi
We mentioned the need to document and preserve culture earlier, and this guy is doing a helluva job of it with his podcast. As an ‘active community of misfits … crazy enough to want to change the world’, this podcast gives a platform to the talented youth who are excelling in their fields quietly, away from the mainstream spotlight. Brimming with inspirational stories, this podcast will make one lament their own unremarkable life and the slew of questionable life choices that have led to penning articles like this at 3 in the morning. I need to stop referring to myself in third person.
Some of my favorite (and enviably too young) guests include the first female YouTuber from Peshawar, Mahrukh Sethi , the content writing wiz kid, Khalilullah Khan and the Motorcycle Girl, Zenith Irfan. Zaidi is a pro interviewer and true to podcasting rules, he contributes to the discussion by picking up from where his guest just left off and adding heavy, well-researched arguments to give the conversation a cultural heft. What’s more? he posts three times a week! Take heed Mooroo.
Mooroo appears on the podcast (you can’t escape this guy!) and turns the conversation into more of a tennis match with both guys throwing philosophical inquiries at each other. It is both chilling and revelatory to listen to and you would surely need a notepad to collect all the gems this episode suffused you with. Another episode, with Saad Munawar, about Muhammad Ali Sadpara, deserves a tuning-in as well.
The two geniuses discussing the psychology of a rapist in the aftermath of the motorway gang rape case by invoking basics of evolutionary biology that involves chimpanzees and bonobos. Yup, this podcast goes there.
Agree with our picks? Did we miss out on an episode or a moment? Let us know in the comments what are your favourite podcasts to listen to?
Can’t get enough of Sarmad Khoosat? Then watch this mini-series right now!
Maleeha is based in Lahore and pursuing a bachelor’s degree. She snacks on books, films, cookies and anything artistic under the Lahori hot sun. Her ultimate goal is to get a room of her own and a fixed annual income in her name (as per Virginia Wolf’s recommendation) to write forever, without falling prey to capitalist trappings. You can follow more of her ramblings on Instagram and twitter