Stories published in May, 2016

A spooky treat: Pakistan’s first believable found-footage film, Aksbandh

Aksbandh, Lollywood’s first-of-a-kind horror movie, which has been inspired by the found-footage format in American supernatural horror movie series Paranormal Activity, hit cinemas on May 20, 2016. The movie, which is also similar to the Final Destination series, was made in partnership with Hum TV, Urdu1 and Express News, and has been directed by Emram Hussain and co-written by Ayaz Samoo. The story revolves around a group of amateur college-going film-makers who wish to make a movie of their own. To shoot their project, they decide to go to the Mangrove forests of Larkana (Sindh). The group starts its adventure in a frenzy of excitement. However, as they go further onto ...

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What Donald Trump gets wrong about North Korea

One of Donald Trump’s latest contributions to the 2016 presidential contest is an offer to talk with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator who keeps 25 million people enslaved and commands an arsenal that some experts say could have more than 20 nuclear weapons by the end of this year.  “I would speak to him,” the presumed Republican nominee told Reuters in an interview. “I would have no problem speaking to him.” Such an overture would be a major shift in American policy. No sitting American president has ever met a North Korean leader. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met Mr Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il, on ...

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It’s not easy being a female divorcee, especially in Pakistan

I happened to have an incredibly appalling conversation with a male friend the other day. It pretty much went like this; “Hey did you end up finding a girl for yourself?” “Yeah, I did, but I ended up rejecting the proposal. She was divorced and seemed quite sharp.” But, to my surprise, his response didn’t really shock me. Even so, his comments still ring in my head. I was amazed at how an educated and sensible man like him could pass such a judgement. Unfortunately, we’ve been moulded to think divorced women are off limits. They just don’t stand a chance in the ‘marriage market’ ...

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Packed with brilliant performances, Sarbjit is a classic

The geopolitical tension between India and Pakistan has resulted in numerous cinematic potboilers that have all the ingredients of tragedy, jingoism, xenophobia and grief. Sarbjit is no different. The movie is based on the real-life account of the ill-fated Sarabjit Singh who was arrested by Pakistani police on the Wagah Border in 1990. This unfortunate Indian or dumb scout (as some conspiracy theorists allege him to be) was accused of being an Indian spy who had orchestrated terrorist activities in Lahore and Faisalabad. He was eventually thrown into prison. In between the capricious rapport shared by these two countries along with cross-border political ...

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With its marriage to the Taliban and its extramarital affair with the US, Pakistan is playing with fire

Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, the leader of the Taliban group, was allegedly killed at around 3:45 pm on May 21st. He is said to have been killed in a US drone airstrike in Dalbandi, Balochistan. This is the most significant American incursion inside Pakistan ever since the Navy SEALs incident in 2011, in which the al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, was killed. After realising the Afghan war was a complete failure, America changed its strategy and began pursuing the Taliban leadership, Mullah Mansoor, to come to the negotiation table. They did this by offering them lucrative offers including the release of Taliban prisoners and the opening of their Qatar office. With Mullah Mansoor having ...

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After ‘The Biggest Loser,’ their bodies fought to regain weight

Danny Cahill stood, slightly dazed in a blizzard of confetti as the audience screamed and his family ran on stage. He had won season eight of NBC’s reality television show The Biggest Loser, shedding more weight than anyone ever had on the program — an astonishing 239 pounds in seven months. When he got on the scale for all to see that evening, December 8, 2009, he weighed just 191 pounds, down from 430. Dressed in a T-shirt and knee-length shorts, he was lean, athletic and as handsome as a model. “I’ve got my life back,” he declared. “I mean, I ...

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X-Men: Apocalypse – An apocalyptic end to the trilogy

I wanted this to be good, oh, I so badly wanted this to be good. I even made good on my promise to never ever waste my money on another lousy, solely-there-to-make-money superhero flick by skipping out on Captain America: Civil War (heard it’s not that bad though) and Batman v Superman. But this was X-Men, this was the exception, this was the same franchise that gave us First Class (2011) and Days of Future Past (2014) but Apocalypse, much to my sorrow, turned out to be decidedly third class. Sigh! The ninth outing in the ever-expanding mutant universe, but ...

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Will the Muslim women in India find protection in the courts?

One may accuse Trupti Desai’s symbolic entry to the Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai, and her earlier attempt to enter the Shani Shingnapur temple, as a well thought out publicity stunt highlighting her political intentions. However, one has to grant her and her organisation, Bhumata Ranrangini Brigade, due credit for their gumption to take on religious clerics and other religious organisations. Her determination resulted in the decadent old custom that prevented women from entering places of worship, into the public domain. It is indeed a sad commentary that even after 69 years of India’s independence; Indian women have to fight for their rights. Women have to constantly fight ...

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Despite it’s disclaimer, this advert made me feel “uncomfortable, awkward, objectified and pointless”

We’re all terribly familiar with the pin-up girl persona that women have to adopt in advertisements to make products more appealing. A few days ago, this advert popped up on my newsfeed on Facebook and I laughed along as the actor/model wiggled his butt and referenced the Katrina Kaifs of beverage ads, the Kareena Kapoors of magnum ads and the multitude of lux soap adverts in luxuriously white bath tubs laden with rose petals. We’ve seen women adorned in robes of silk, where their smooth legs are just as shiny as the fabric. We’ve seen it all. We’re all mind-numbingly familiar with ...

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Girls don’t tell, boys don’t cry

His hands were hard, His voice was soft, His eyes were red, His teeth had rot, I tried to run, But he wouldn’t let me go, I tried again, But he just said no.   Then he smiled the most ugly smile, Don’t you know, you silly child? Girls don’t tell, And boys don’t cry.   Another push, another blow, He had me trapped, I could not go, One fine day, I’ll let you leave, Until that day you shall grieve, But what will you tell them, when you’re free?   He watched me as he made me lie, Girls don’t tell, And boys don’t cry.   He’s not here now, But he has me still, I dream his face, His ghastly grin, How his teeth had rot, How ...

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