Ahsan Khan has responded to the controversy surrounding the inclusion of animals “as props” on his talk show Time Out with Ahsan Khan.
“Let me clarify. These rabbits are basically pets and the person who owns them brings them to the set,” said Ahsan, while speaking exclusively to The Current. “When they are on set, we make sure that they are well-fed and taken care of and are not facing any issues. They are not uncomfortable at all. The person whose pets they are keeps them indoors and they are very easy to play with.”
“Araam say haathon main aa jaatay hain,” explained Khan.
Khan further went onto share the segment has been inspired by the Hop Quiz on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
“Basically, this segment has been inspired by Hollywood’s The Tonight Show,” said Ahsan.
The actor then said that being a pet lover he is very careful with the animals on set and cares for them.
“I myself am a pet lover,” said Ahsan. “I have dogs at home. I have cats. I also have parrots and hens and they are all like my own children. We try to provide them with comfortable environments. So naturally, we are very careful with the animals – all of us on set.”
He further said that after the show invited backlash for “using animals as props,” he and his producer decided to avoid it.
“My producer and I thought that if this is hurting people and they are not liking it, then we can avoid it. So we have cut out the segment in the last three to four episodes we’ve recorded,” stated Ahsan, clarifying that the ones which included the animals were shot before.
“Although this segment is one of my favourites because this is the only one in which we discuss general knowledge, which not only educates my guests but also those who are watching the show. Whoever gives a wrong answer has to hold the pet in their lap,” he shared. It is pertinent to add here that the male guests usually enjoy petting the animals but the female guests are scared of them and often jump around screaming when asked to hold them.
“We on our end have been very careful with handling them, but if some people don’t like it then we, including my producers and all can apologise to them,” concluded Khan. “It’s a mutual thing. If something is not right, we should look into it.”
Earlier, a Lahore-based law firm Crown Chambers had filed a complaint before the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) against Express Entertainment and the show for using animals as props.
“The said segment on the TV show, subjecting a sentient living being, an animal, to unnecessary suffering is not only an offence under the law but a breach of the constitutionally guaranteed right to life under Art. 9 of the constitution, as laid down by Islamabad high court in Islamabad Wildfire Management board Vs Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad, cited in 2021 CLC 262,” read the complaint.
It further said: “The format of the segment involves a series of questions and answers with known celebrities as guests, who if fail to answer properly, as a “punishment” or “penalty”, are required to hold an animal or at times required to pile several animals such as petrified rabbits/pigeons etc, on their laps, causing distress not only to the animals but to the guest at times as well.”
“Morever, it has spread the message to masses through the said TV channel that projecteing such treatmeant onto animals is acceptable.”
The inclusion of animals on Time Out with Ahsan Khan sparked outrage after a video of Maya Ali screaming and jumping around while being teased with the rabbits went viral on social media. She had appeared on the show with Bilal Ashraf.