Dogs – A Legacy for Pakistan

Faiz Ahmed Faiz wrote ‘Dogs’ during the struggle against the British Raj,  but the words are as apt for the state of Pakistan  today. The feudal  system of the rule of the Bhutto’s  to the brutal regime of Musharraf exposes the lack of progress for a country created with a multitude of ambitions for its minorities.

Dogs
These wandering unemployed gods of the streets,
On whom has been bestowed ardour for beggary,
The curses of the age their property,
The abuse of the whole world their earnings;
Neither rest at night nor comfort in the morning,
Dwellings in the dirt, night-lodgings in the drains;
If they rebel, make one fight another,
Just show them a piece of bread –
They who suffers the kicks of everyone,
Who will die worn out with starvation…

If these oppressed creatures lifted their head,
Mankind would forget all its insolence:
If they wished they would make the earth either own,
They would chew even the bones of the masters –
If only someone showed them consciousness of degradation,
If only someone shook their sleeping tails!

Extract from ‘Poems by Faiz’ Translated by Victor Kiernan published by Vanguard Books (PVT) Ltd , South Publications, London

Khuda Ka Liye at the Tongues on Fire Film Festival

I have the pleasure of introducing and discussing Shoaib Mansoor’s directorial debut at the Brady Centre on 13 March at the Brady Centre. Screening starts at 11am and is free and open to all.

Khuda Ke Liye is a ground breaking Pakistani feature on the aftermath of 9/11.

Ras H. Siddiqui writing for Pakistan Link puts it succinctly when he stated that “I had the privilege to view Shoaib Mansoor’s widely acclaimed Pakistani movie “Khuda Kay Liye” or “In The Name Of God” on a full screen at NAZ8 Cinemas in Fremont , California. I call the viewing a privilege because Pakistani movies being shown to the wider public on a full screen in Northern California are something quite rare, even when the theatres screening them like NAZ8 are known for showing Indian (Bollywood) blockbusters. Since this was a 1PM show on a Saturday, we hurried to the venue to get a good seat. There were five of us and when we stepped into the theatre we were surprised that there was plenty of room. Either word about this movie has not circulated or the impact of pirated DVD’s had already been felt. But after seeing it I can write that this movie should not be missed by Pakistanis, Americans or other South Asians. We saw it with English subtitles but a great deal of this movie is already in the English language. South Asian films have overcome many barriers in the United States over the past few years. Most of them have been made by the Indian-Pakistani Diaspora resident in Britain, Canada and the US. Mira Nair, Hanif Kureishi and now Tariq Ali have entered into filmmaking for Western audiences. Mira’s “The Namesake” is being released on DVD and is being considered Oscar material. And indigenous Indian movies such as Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya are getting international funding. But where does this movie fit in? Khuda Kay Liye is a remarkable film that can compete with any movie coming out of either Hollywood or Bollywood these days. Unfortunately, it will not penetrate the mainstream US movie market because it is going to be very controversial on both sides of “the divide”.  Click here to read the full article.

You can contact Tongues on Fire for further details of screening and discussion on            020 8961 8908.

A Stain Covered Day Break

Dawn of Freedom – August 1947 was a poem was written as comment on the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan,  and sadly the words rings true of Pakistan today. 

Subh-e-Azadi
Ye dagh dagh ujala, ye shab-gazida sahar,
Vo initizar tha jis-ka, ye vo sahar to nahin,
Ye vo sahar to nahin jis-ki arzu lekar
Chale the yar ke mil-ja’egi kahin na kahin
Falak ke dasht mein taron ki akhiri manzil…..

Dawn of freedom
This stain-covered daybreak, this night-bitten dawn,
This is not that dawn of which there was expectation;
This is not that dawn with longing for which friends set out
That somewhere they would be met within the desert of the sky
The final destination of the stars…..

Extract from ‘Poems by Faiz’ Translated by Victor Kiernan   published by Vanguard Books (PVT) Ltd , South Publications, London

 

Tongues on Fire Celebrates 10 years

Tongues on Fire Film Festival was set up by founding Artistic Directors, Pushpinder Chowdhry and Harvinder Nath who have informed the festival direction and propelling in to an international stage with a view to be ‘Beyond Bollywood’. The festival has been at the forefront of supporting British Asian talent such as Gurinder ChadhaShakila Taranum MaanMeera Syal,  to name a few.

It is ironic that in their 10th year, the Festival has suffered a major financial set back and has lost its main backer. Despite this, both Pushpinder and Harvinder have endeavoured to move forward with an exciting programme which includes British and international films.

Pushpinder and Harvinder state in their Directors notes that “This year marks our 10th anniversary film festival and TOF is extremely thrilled to begin once again with an Opening Gala Weekend at BAFTA. We are proud to present the London premiere of Hope and A Little Sugar and welcome the talented director Tanuja Chandra and actress Mahima Chaudhry to our festival. Our Opening Gala Weekend continues with The World Unseen, a film made by an all-women crew, and we are privileged to present a Q&A with the director Shamim Sarif and producer Hanan Kattan.

This year we are delighted be honouring Meera Syal for her contributions to film, television and theatre. It will be the first of our yearly profiles of Asian filmmakers who have pushed the boundaries in film and media.

This exciting month-long season showcases work by women or stories where women are the central protagonists in order to encourage debate reflecting real-life issues. The festival presents the British premiers of Mira Nair’s Mirabhai Production of AIDS Jagoo and Bhavna Talwar’s Dharm, and an opportunity to screen the Vanaja and Rituparno Ghosh’s Dosar”.

Click here to read further on the Tongues on Fire Film Festival 2008.

 

 

Ground Hog Day in the Bazaar’s of Pakistan

Here is a beautiful rendition of poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz,  Aaj Bazaar Mein (Today in the Bazaar) being initially read by him, then continued by song which is sung to images  of the day to day life in Pakistan during the Zia-ul-Haq  era. It seems that Pakistan is trapped in a ground hog day.

Harappa and much more…..

Okay folks, it’s not everyday you come across a cave full of treasure. But here is one I discovered recently…. have a look at this excellent website.

 I hope you enjoy it as much as I have, particularly this comparative of Lahore Railway Station in Pakistan. 

Gulgee is no more – a tribute

The great painter, Gulgee was murdered in his home in Karachi along with his wife and the maid servant. A bizarre killing by any means, the only items that are missing is the family car. The police are currently looking for a servant and a driver.

Karachi has the highest crime figures in Pakistan and is a dangerous and ruthless place for the non-elite and elite alike.

Gulgee was a self-taught painter and rose to prominence by doing portraits of important leaders such as King Faisal  and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. 

His work changed dramatically and went into religious and spiritual realms, providing the Islamic world of some of the most mesmerising calligraphy. Vasl, an international artist’s collective based in Pakistan, considers Gulgee as one of the Master painters of Pakistan. The collective hold an impressive collection of images by Gulgee which you can see by clicking here. 

Gulgee’s art will be greatly missed.