Stories about Saving Face

This is how women made Pakistan proud in 2016

Many of 2016’s most notable moments were mostly unfortunate, unchecked events of toxic masculinity. From the horrifying tragedy that was Qandeel Baloch’s senseless murder, to Donald Trump’s self-described ‘locker room talk’, and the Council of Islamic Ideology’s (CII) absurd suggestion that ‘lightly beating’ one’s wife ‘as needed’ is permissible, most of us are happy to be saying goodbye to a year riddled with examples of the negative impact rigid gender roles can have on culture. But 2016 also happens to have been quite the year for some Pakistani women. Below is just a handful of a large number of Pakistani women ...

Read Full Post

Dancing to the tunes of the Song of Lahore is pure joy

Prepare to be mesmerised by the Song of Lahore, a lovely documentary directed by twice Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and Andy Shocken. Be ready to be hypnotised, to clap along, hum along and to fall madly in love with the Sachal-Jazz ensemble and their mission to make, according to founder Izzat Majeed “global music that is rooted in Lahore.” In order to preserve Pakistan’s fading musical roots, Majeed established the Sachal recording studio in Lahore and gathered the best of Pakistan’s classically trained instrumentalists, mostly aging men from extremely humble backgrounds, to revive the music he had grown up on. ...

Read Full Post

Why do Pakistanis cheer Brandon Stanton, but attack Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy?

Like so many in Pakistan, I was pleased when American photo-blogger Brandon Stanton, founder of Humans of New York, visited the country to tell the stories of every day Pakistanis. As with his other excellent work, Brandon shared some moving tales, creating empathy as only he can. At the end of his Pakistan series, Brandon moved on to a despicable social ill of Pakistan: Bonded Labour, which is used to victimise thousands of Pakistanis and has been described as modern day slavery by the United Nations. Like any good journalist, Brandon highlighted the issue by sharing several heart-breaking stories alongside striking photos while relating some ...

Read Full Post

When the Pakistani media decided to exploit a painful tragedy like APS

It is difficult to imagine what it is like to be one of the parents of the 122 school kids brutally murdered during the Army Public School (APS) massacre in Peshawar. On the morning of December 16, 2014, these families said goodbye to their children as they left for school, and a few hours later, were shattered by the news that their loved one(s) had been mercilessly gunned down by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorists. I know of parents broken after losing their child to a terminal disease, and eventually found solace. The slow torture of witnessing a brave beloved helplessly battle such an illness is ...

Read Full Post

When will we start recognising our Women of Impact like the West does?

Pakistani women have done us proud again by securing a place in New York Time’s Women of Impact list 2015. The list honours outstanding women from around the world. It is diverse and interesting, bringing home the point that these individuals have managed to carve a place for themselves by standing up for the cause of women and other marginalised factions of society. Out of the 50 women given the honour, education activist Malala Yousafzai and film maker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy have bagged the 36th and 48th positions respectively, and we all know that honours and recognitions are not new to them. Both ladies have devoted their lives to ...

Read Full Post

Will Pakistani acid victims ever be as lucky as Turia Pitt?

Some people are just more fortunate than others. That’s how this world works. This thought resonated in my mind as I read about Turia Pitt, a model-turned engineer who suffered 65% burns on her body during a bushfire in Australia. That was three years ago. Now, she is an author and an active charity fundraiser. In her own words she is, “the luckiest girl in the world.” She recently appeared on the front cover of Australian Women’s Weekly, with her resilient scars and her remarkable confidence. I wish we had more Turias in Pakistan. Turia Pitt on the cover of ...

Read Full Post

Why are we being cut off from independent Pakistani films?

In the last few months, screenings of movies with a strong Pakistani connection has surged in the United States. It has been culturally very exciting and rewarding to watch these fantastic films and afterwards attend interactive sessions with their directors and crew-members.  Saving Face, These Birds Walk, Without Shepherd, The Waves, Night Life, Lamha (Seedlings), The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Zinda Bhaag, Torn, Wounds of Waziristan, Good Morning Karachi and Anima State were presented at different film festivals in the United States. A few also went into commercial distribution. While movies like Waar and Main Hoon Shahid Afridi did create a buzz in the Pakistani cinema market, most of the internationally released movies were overlooked by the mainstream Pakistani media. What ...

Read Full Post

Whose face are we trying to save?

Bina Shah has raised some pertinent points in her op-ed for The Express Tribune. Refusing to accept the allegations levelled against Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, she implies that Rukhsana is being threatened by her family to claim financial compensation from the documentary film-maker. More significantly, Bina asserts that this reality has been obscured by the elite-bashing and a more cohesive approach is needed to understand this issue. Ironically, the op-ed has been criticised for propagating the same elitist narrative that it condemns. This reflects the inconvenient truth about our nation being constantly obsessed with defending the underdog rather than objectively examining the facts. While ...

Read Full Post

Documentaries about Pakistan: A step in the right direction?

Pakistan is a land full of stories. Its culture, ideas, politics and landscapes are so vast and intriguing that it invites artists for exploration all the time. Ever since 9/11, Pakistan has been the center of media attention ─ be it nationally or internationally. The so-called ‘war on terror’ has given rise to a lot of interest in the foreign film market, encouraging people from all over the world to analyse its complexities surrounding fundamentalism and liberalism. But one question, I feel, is extremely important for us to explore is ‘why Pakistan?’. So, in the hopes to settle my query, I invited my ...

Read Full Post

Saving Face: An Oscar for mediocrity?

In February, when Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s Film, Saving Face, on acid burn victims won an Oscar, I was sceptical. Accolade seemed to focus on how great it was for Pakistan to have this honour – and whenever people get jingoistic, you know that the core may be hollow.   Frankly, there are two reasons why the film won the Oscar: excellent public relations work, and choice of topic that fits the western narrative of acceptable ways to talk about Muslim women – as victims of patriarchal religious violence without any emphasis on the larger socio-economic context in which this violence ensues and whether there are ...

Read Full Post