By Ushah Kazi
These are uncertain times, and often to deal with uncertainty one needs some creative reflection, an elixir for the senses if you will. Something to remind us all that there is such a thing as the human spirit, and that even in the darkest of times it is alive and kicking. So this week the focus is on all things human. The carefree, the vibrant, the resilient and all too often the broken. Every shade of human presented via some gifted individuals.
1. Experimental creativity; ‘The desert journey’ by The DA Method
So let’s talk about Pakistani music. A difficult subject to cover when the industry manages to spawn an army of cookie-cutters while still dishing out some unique talents. This little gem is of the latter ilk and a perfect example of how a song and video can work with each other instead of against each other. On their Facebook page, The DA Method identify themselves as a “progressive rock band” and while they are unlike anything one can expect from the mainstream yet it is wonderful to see that the rhythmic veins of our collective heritage continue to pulsate. The only thing more unique than their sound is their willingness to break away from the same-old.
Set in a brothel (yes, let that sink in) and shot in one continuous take, these are seven minutes of absolute perfection. Everything about this video is on point; the actors are nuanced, the cinematography sullen yet enticing and the music echoes through red lit hallways like a dream. The production team (under the Gali Films banner) took their fair share of risks and it is safe to say that all of them paid off. The long take is an avant-garde favourite but can make for a confusing viewing experience. Here though it only adds to the story as the camera wanders through the maze-like setting keeping abreast with the pace of the story and piecing together a rich albeit confusing puzzle.
It is also wonderful to see that while some continue to use up hours of screen time to present a mundane idea, the production team here proves that great writing can make its mark in mere seconds.
Also, I can’t talk about this video without praising Suhaee Abro. I had the pleasure of meeting her this summer when she took part in our video ‘Woman Enough’ (shameless plug here) and she is both talented and incredibly sweet. She has in the past been compared to the bronze dancing girl of Mohenjo Daro. Unsurprisingly since in this video, and in anything else she does, she is truly a moving work of art. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see her dance here (simply because she is so good) but her expressions are faultless and she really is the star.
2. Stunning the haters; Kami Sid’s photo shoot
Transphobia is amongst Pakistan’s most shameful ills. Albeit the push for democracy and civil liberties continues to blaze across social forums, yet the violence against the trans community is not as openly discussed. Enter Kami Sid, who burst onto our computer screens with a striking photo-shoot. Within hours of it being posted online, the vibrant pictures went viral and were even picked up by local media channels. Adorned in rich layers of traditional clothing and dramatic makeup, Kami’s graceful figure was able to (and I hate this phrase) break the internet.
3. Rangeela Remembered; S. M. Raza’s tribute
More than ten years ago, Pakistan lost one of its most loved comedic actors. Saeed Khan, known affectionately as Rangeela, made his debut in a comedic role and then went on to star in some 300 movies. While the local film industry has often left opinions divided (habitually the most commercially successful ventures also boast the most garish plots.) Yet we can all agree that a comedic onscreen presence can often be a smokescreen for a tragic personal life. Such was the case for Rangeela who after a successful career suffered prominent health complications which ultimately lead to his demise.
In his tribute to the late legend, S. M. Raza (who has made a name for himself thanks to his stunning murals) decided to focus on his energetic comedic prowess. A wonderful tribute for an unforgettable man.
4. The measure of a hero; Shahzaib Hussain’s ‘Logan’
Speaking of tributes. Maybe it’s because for anyone under a certain age Hugh Jackman is Wolverine. Maybe it’s because ‘Logan’ will be his final portrayal of the character after playing him for more than seventeen years. Or maybe it’s because I love Shahzaib Hussain and needed a reason to put him on this list. At any rate, I love this.
5. Hey look, the music’s back! Noori in concert
After so many years of nothing, it is great to see Pakistan flexing its creative muscles so regularly. Also, not too long ago certain veteran performers spoke out about how the music industry in particular was failing. So it is perfect to watch a crowd of vibrant young people singing along with Ali Noor in a flurry of colours. The music is well and truly back.
Now it wouldn’t be fair to end this week’s roundup without including something from that infamous Donald Trump and Nawaz Sharif phone call. In case you haven’t read the government released readout yet, I’ll just preface it by saying that with all the satire and fake news articles floating around the internet this is still the funniest thing you’ll read.
Among other things Mr. Trump apparently claimed that he would love to visit Pakistan as it is “a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people.” Further adding, “Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing.”
Aww Mr. Trump, compliment taken.
Of course when I first read it my immediate reaction was that this couldn’t possibly be true. But within a few hours credible news sites were reporting on it. Time’s article on the subject went as far as to condemn the “reckless” nature of the call and dread what this could mean for Asian security issues.
A bit premature I’d say, but whatever. They are entitled to their insecurities.
(Although I did like Stephen Colbert’s assessment of the situation.)