So, I didn’t publish one of these last week. The problem I’m having with doing this series as a weekly thing is that sometimes I don’t find anything worth mentioning.
So we’ll see where it goes, this week luckily I found a bunch of stuff that I have a lot to write about. There is a deluge of creativity in the post but it doesn’t really follow a theme. The people and group I mention here are budding filmmakers, photographers and activists and their subject of choice varies. The one thing that they do share is a unique vantage point. It is difficult to come by a genuine original in this age of tributes, and while I don’t want to burden any creative person with the title of being original, yet these guys come pretty close. Be it feminism, film or food, they present their subject via a contagious freshness (get ready to throw cliché out of the window.)
1; Feminism for the brave; Ladies only
So I came across this little treasure recently. ‘Ladies Only’ is a feminist web-series initiated by Anam Abbas around two months ago, it has garnered some media attention but not enough considering what it is. I would be pressed to find another group taking a sledgehammer to patriarchy the way these ladies do, and I just think that they deserve a tad bit more attention.
They have released four episodes so far, each episode is between two to six minutes long and has a distinct tone. For example, the first one (incidentally also my favourite) is satirical and makes fun of the societal absurdities that we’ve stopped questioning, the comedy often bordering farcical. On the other hand, the second episode, titled “The Beach”, is much more sombre capturing both the beauty of Pakistan’s beach-culture, and the debilitation of not living your life on your own terms.
Switching up the tone could have been confusing, but it actually works because each episode feels like a separate production while the series still maintains some cohesion.
I particularly appreciate the creativity of their production choices. Personally, I’m convinced that many of the independent ventures coming out of Pakistan far outshine more mainstream, big budget productions. Although, when I said something to this affect for our 2016 wrap video (which you can watch here) some people didn’t agree.
But let me explain what I meant; I think that many indie ventures demonstrate a clarity that their more expensive counterparts lack and this series is just an example of that. Yes, they mix and match stylistic elements, but they know what they want and there is a clear direction that they’re heading in.
Often bluntly announcing things that the rest of don’t have the tenacity to, this isn’t for the fainthearted and I don’t think they want to be. Their target audience seems to be people who can appreciate the nonchalant courage of the series, they have roped in some loyal fans and I now count myself amongst them.
2; Uninhibited Creativity; Omar Gilani Art and Illustration
I’ve always had an admiration for visual artists, particularly as there is a sudden surge in locals that are really good at doodling. I’ve written about a few for these posts and the current budding creative scene is definitely a potential goldmine for anyone that dabbles in illustration. As be it film, music or theater, every production needs a great poster and cover art. In fact, that is how I discovered Omar Gilani’s work. I did a story about Patari (a long time ago) and saw some of his illustrations as part of their website and social media scene, and I was instantly smitten. It’s not just his obvious technical prowess, but also his panache for fusing elements of science fiction and fantasy with the minutia of Pakistani life that I love.
This is one of his more recent creations, depicting a dragon as the main attraction at the Lucky Irani circus. I am a child of the nineties so the circus has a special place in my heart, and as with anyone who has a pulse, I also loves dragons so this is my favourite.
3; The politics of forgotten people; Hellhole by Mobeen Ansari
Art can often ask and answer questions simultaneously. Sometimes these questions are painful, often they are also necessary. Mobeen Ansari’s debut short-film seems to have captured this quality.
As the film still hasn’t completed its festival run, hence all we know is that it is a silent film based on the lives of conservancy workers (commonly known as ‘gutter cleaners’) but the chosen subject matter itself lends a lot of promise to the project. The fact that for generations, there have been people who make a living literally cleaning other people’s mess while little importance is given to their own lives or safety is a reality that many of us conveniently ignore. Hence, even before seeing it I have to commend the filmmaker for his genuine resolution. The trailer, much like the decision to shoot a silent film, presents the truth via gritty realism; these are a people who have been silenced by a society that can choose to ignore them.
4; Local flavour; The Sibbi Song by Abid Brohi and SomeWhatSuper
This story reads like a celluloid fairy-tale. A tea seller from Balochistan who can’t read or write but loves to rap, he travels to Lahore and produces a song with established stars and almost overnight the virtual world is hooked to his tune. Abid Brohi’s story is almost as contagious as his debut song. Partnering with the acclaimed pair SomeWhatSuper, they recorded ‘The Sibi Song’.
This is also the first track released by Patari Tabeer, an initiative by Patari which aims to bring together established artists and undiscovered talent. Needless to say, but if this is any indication of things to come then I’m all in.
5; Food fun; Taha Ahmed
Instagram has been flooded by food pages, and without blanketing all of them under the same umbrella it would be fair to say that they’re all a little repetitive. Not necessarily through any fault of their own. I mean there are only so many ways you can make a bowl of pasta look like art.
Or so you would think. Enter Taha Ahmed, who has a passion for making food look like something conjured up by your most memorable dreams. Aside from the fact that he stands out of the never-ending crowd as far as food centric social media is concerned, what I also like is that he is able to represent how all encompassing food can be.
The culinary arts are very evocative. More often than not a great dish isn’t just about whether it tastes good but also about the memories that it brings back and the mood that it inspires. But not always is this appreciated. On Taha’s page however, food becomes everything from a bouquet of balloons to a power switch and just for that I think he deserves some love.
And finally; the promise of better things to come, I Am Karachi film festival
To say that the country’s creative scene is blooming would be stating the obvious. But as wonderful as this is, whenever a hobby transcends to an industry it can often become about a select few voices eclipsing the many. Film in particular can be a tool for emancipation or propaganda depending on who is holding the reins. I don’t know what the solution to this is, but I do know that one mode of dissent is to support independent artists and I see film festivals as a way to do this. Most recently The I Am Karachi film festival 2017 released a beautiful trailer. It is promising, and I hope we can all support it and the local artists that it will surely harness.