So many things have happened recently. So much of it is rather depressing. But, some of it is also worth celebrating. So, that’s what we’ll do today.
Artists have taken risks, initiated their passion projects, and a brewing movement culminated into Aurat March 2018. Here’s hoping that everyone who dared achieves everything they dreamt of. And, that we as a nation embrace our power, take chances and hope to do better.
Un-Hinged; Students Speak About Sexual Harassment
A lot of people still dismiss the ‘Me Too’ movement. Much of this dismissal stems from the age old question, ‘what will this actually change?’ Well, nothing really. Not if we limit it to hashtag activism. But, before disregarding the movement, let’s acknowledge its original intent.
The movement exploded after the foulest secrets of Hollywood were brought to the forefront, but it was initiated much earlier. Activist Tarana Burke started the movement in 2007, as a means to address assault yes, but also to bring people together. In her own words, “as a community we create a lot of space for fighting and pushing back. But not enough for connecting and healing.” And the purpose of ‘Me Too’ was to connect, acknowledge and heal, together.
This excellent video, published in the run up to Aurat March 2018, is a great example of the intended solidarity. If we can create spaces where victims feel safe, and talk about their experiences, than that is worth the movement. It won’t ‘fix’ the problem, but it is a great, and necessary start.
United and Strong; Aurat March 2018
Can we all take a minute to appreciate the fact that Aurat March 2018 even happened? Can we also appreciate that not everyone will appreciate this? And finally, can we collectively agree that we don’t care?
Aurat March 2018 is such a welcome addition to Pakistan’s activism tradition. And I’m sure that everyone who took part in it will have their own memories. But, I feel like I need to single this one out, because of what it represents. Far too often have we seen women swept under an umbrella. This can be a look, what they allegedly want, or what their troubles have been. But there has never been a single face that can represent womanhood, let alone its polity. There have been varying shades of dissent, and dissent within dissent.
This picture, to me, is a reminder of that. Not all Pakistani women are the same. And to truly stand together, we must acknowledge and celebrate our individual strength.
On a personal level, whenever I think of Aurat March 2018, this is how I will remember it.
Excellence All Around; Lahooti Melo 2018
Loyal readers will know that we have a bone to pick with Coke Studio. We have never made a secret of the fact. Not ever.
But in our defence, this comes from a genuinely disappointed place. I have been a Studio fan for a very long time. I have regarded it as a platform for the best of Pakistani music. So that when I see it churning out sub-par numbers; it hurts. Really it does.
But we can, and do, rejoice in knowing that other ventures have taken up this task. One of my favourites amongst this lot is Lahooti Melo. If you don’t know, this is an annual event, and the brainchild of Saif Samejo of the Sketches.
The 2018 roster included musical excellence. I mean Aaroh, Abid Brohi, Laal, Suhae Abro, Tahir Mithoo and many, many more.
Also, fun fact, I actually hail from Hyderabad. And have had my fair share of snooty dismissals. So to see the city become a destination for the country as a whole is really, really special.
Unbridled Spirit; Hamza Bangash’s Paak
Now, this one may seem odd because we haven’t yet seen the trailer for Hamza Bangash’s new film. But let me explain. Firstly, his resume basically speaks for itself; he is one of the talents of our time. But also, the story behind this one is enough to pique my interest, and yours.
Paak (literally ‘pure’) deals with a young woman dealing with “impending adulthood” and tells the story through video calls. The project was completed in collaboration with psychiatrist Mina Husain. A discussion about mental health, and experimental cinema? Sign me up, twice.
Hello Darkness; Arif Mahmood Photography
I have also written about Mr. Mahmood’s photography before. And if you want a snippet of how good he is, follow him on Instagram. There is a lot that I like about his work, but one of the things is how easily he embraces the shadows. So much modern photography revolves around brightening images, to the point of bleached perfection.
But I have always appreciated the dark. And I appreciate that one of my favorite artists shares this quality.
Now, clearly despite ample reasons to give up hope, I’m still pretty chirpy. And optimistic. Maybe, as the excitement around Aurat March 2018 itself dies down, I’ll sink into gloom. But for now, I am hopeful. And I want to cherish this happiness. I’m hoping that you’ll cherish it with me.