ammar.aziz

Ammar Aziz

An independent filmmaker and political activist who teaches film theory at NCA. He blogs at ammar-aziz.blogspot.com and tweets at @ammar_aziz

Bonded to brick kilns: A song for revolution

“That was the darkest decade of our time. Women were considered half-the-man. Workers were as suppressed as slaves. Artists and poets were not allowed to create. Killing in the name of Islam began in that era. And those who resisted either had to face lashes or ended up in the Kafkaesque prison cells of the Lahore fort. Thus, everyone was oppressed except the religious clerics and those who surrendered to the worst military dictator. That was the 80s, but things haven’t really changed yet…”  (Mussarat Aziz) These are the words my mother wrote on a birthday card she gave me ...

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Occupy Islamabad!

For decades, we have heard, and chanted, slogans against the evils of capitalism. We have witnessed the monopolization of multinational corporates and intensifying ratio of starvation, growing side by side. We have seen so many wars, imposed in the name of peace. We have heard enough lies about the people’s struggle and their achievements of the past. We have watched the world transforming into a global village of miseries, poverty, bloodshed, hunger and oppression. Now, the masses, all over the world, seem to realize the root cause of all the miseries: exploitation of man’s labour by man. Capitalism is ...

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Raped on Christmas

 A 12-year-old Christian girl was gang raped repeatedly, forced to convert to Islam and was then married to one of her attackers in Lahore. I got to know about this case a few days ago, and since then, I have not been able to overcome feelings of disgust and sorrow. I have been unable to sleep. An FIR was filed against unknown people on January 5, 2011 – FIR No 18/11, to the Factory Area Police Station, district Shaikhupura, Lahore. When I called the concerned police station to make inquiries the sub-inspector was hesitant to talk about the incident. However, when I strictly asked him ...

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Pakistan’s confused liberators

Ours is a country full of right wing rebels, super rich humanists, revisionist progressives, delusional liberals and various other sorts of self-claiming messiahs. In one way or the other, all of these people who talk about reforms, peace, poverty eradication and national prosperity claim to have a solution for Pakistan’s deep-rooted problems in their own way. They sometimes chant about an unseen ‘true vision of Jinnah’s Pakistan’ and sometimes find relief in the rich cultural diversity of their history starting from the Indus Valley civilization. Despite their ideological differences, they stand united, or at least claim to stand united, against ...

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Rehmat cries for Salmaan Taseer

Today, when the MQM-Mirza conflicts have shifted most people’s interest from Indian soaps to Pakistani news channels and local conspiracy theorists declare dengue fever an American agenda; when Shahbaz Taseer has still not returned home and most people prefer Aafia Siddiqi over Taseer, I want to share something with you – something that you may not find as interesting at all, but still… This real account includes incidents that take this story beyond me or the people related to it – it is a story relatable to every citizen of our decaying country. It all begain in March on Faiz’s centennial when ...

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Video Blog: Singing for peace

French author George Sand wrote in a letter to her friend in 1872: “Art for art’s sake is an empty phrase. Art for the sake of the true, art for the sake of the good and the beautiful, that is the faith I am searching for…” Mankind’s struggle against ugliness is as ancient as the human existence itself. In these times, as we continuously witness new wars and bloodshed in the name of “civilizational conflicts”, Sand’s statement should be the manifesto of every creative person. Sadly, in our not-so-pure land, commercial artists of every medium continue to produce material which doesn’t ...

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Video blog: City of the oppressed

While crossing the ugly, narrow streets you will find countless small, wooden doors, almost on every wall. They are mostly locked from the outside, but you can hear a continuous, disturbing noise echoing from these rooms. This haunting noise is the outcome of those power looms that run with the sweat and blood of tens of thousands of workers. If you dare to enter any of the small rooms, you would feel as though you have entered a machine. The walls say it all; they are full of cotton dust and silk web, causing dangerous lung diseases amongst the majority of people who work here. Welcome ...

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Lessons for “bloody civilians”

They pointed their guns at me, and started comparing my face with different photographs of wanted terrorists. “What do you do?” an officer asked. After an anguished bit of silence, I replied. “I’m a teacher.” “Teacher of what?” “I teach film.” “Sir jee he is lying! Who on earth teaches films after all?’’ This was about two weeks back, while I was entering the Lahore Cantonment, when army personnel stopped me at a check-point. The minute I was about to leave after the usual investigation, I heard an army officer say something out of the blue, that offended me to the core:  “Bloody civilian!” I instantly turned back ...

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Noori: Once upon a light

It was the gloomy winter of 2005. My interest in philosophy and arts was growing. As a reaction of my rebellious nature and artistic romanticism, I had moved out of my house and started living in a small room in old Lahore. My mornings were dedicated to riaz (practice) of classical music and I either painted or read the whole day. Exactly like some typical ‘crazy artist’ character portrayed by Dostoevsky. One day while playing the harmonium, I saw a little girl who was peeping inside from the old, wooden window. Upon realizing that I had noticed her, she smiled shyly and ran ...

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My art is not for you Prime Minister Gilani

My friend stood painting something abstract, holding a cigarette  in a manner that complimented her artistic persona. She probably noticed my sarcastic smile and said, ‘Hey Ammar! I know you criticize abstract art, but you see artists are free souls. We don’t believe in any rules, regulations and boundaries. We choose to be apolitical and are not disciplined folks at all. Discipline and art do not go along.” I remained silent looking at something black lying next to her bag. She continued, “What are you looking at? The graduation gown? That’s for the convocation dress rehearsal. Everything has to be ...

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