Stories published in December, 2016

Our actors are wasting their talent on Pakistani dramas like Sanam

Does anyone miss Fifty Fifty? Studio Dhai and Ponay Teen? It’s the age of Snapstories going viral and two second GIFs primarily providing the fodder for comedy. I have often tried to watch some comedy serials on television but it’s difficult to tolerate them for more than five (10, if you’re really that starved for entertainment) minutes. That’s all the more reason why I feel terrible when I see a talented comedian like Osman Khalid Butt playing regressive, emotional, and clearly messy roles like Haarib in Sanam. In the recent episode of Sanam, Haarib berates Aan (Maya Ali) for not picking up her phone because her mother just had ...

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Time

Her breath was already heavy last night. Her heartbeat at 45 clicks a minute. But it beat. Quietly and clearly; it pumped on. The light on the monitor was green and it would beep every now and then. The sound meant she was alive. It’s been three weeks since I’ve been in here. At first I thought the walls would close in on me. It felt claustrophobic, but not anymore. I know the nurses by their first names now, and the chef at the cafeteria turned out to be an old college colleague. He always had a knack for cooking. ...

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Keeping Up with the Joneses is dull and devoid of any significant laughs

There are two basic things that you can logically expect from a film that is marketed as an action comedy: action and comedy. That detail might seem pretty obvious to you, but somehow Hollywood still hasn’t quite managed to grasp this fairly straightforward concept. The least an action comedy can do is entertain you with its excitement and wit, but ever so often, the movies that supposedly fall in this genre fail on both counts. The latest project is Keeping Up with the Joneses, a spy adventure that despite being powered by an impressive, talented cast (and Gal Gadot) is ...

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The Assassin’s Creed movie promises an action-packed journey, but will it?

Almost everyone plays video games these days. If you look around, you’ll notice how millions of people immerse themselves into the world of virtual reality every day. These games are critically acclaimed universally, and witness millions in sales, sometimes, on the first day of their release alone. Many film studios have tried to adapt video games into big screen movies, unfortunately, only a handful have been able to hit the jackpot and almost none have pleased critics. Movies like Mario Brothers, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Hitman, Alone in the Dark, Max Payne, Warcraft, Prince of Persia, and Doom along with the Resident Evil series and the Tomb Raider series are considered disappointments on a whole. Neither the critics’ ...

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Do we need to bribe our way out of Pakistan and Kazakhstan?

A recent article was brought to my attention about Kazakhstan airport officials refusing to accept the existence of New Zealand, instead insisting that it was in fact a state in Australia and thus detaining one of their nationals overnight. Map of Australia and New Zealand. Photo: Google Maps   The story has the sort of happy ending that all Pakistanis are used to: “Yaar, bas mein ne usey haath milaney key bahaney 1000 ka note pakra diya, aur us ney mujhey janey diya.” (I shook his hand as an excuse to hand him a 1000 rupee note and he let me go.) Of ...

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I’m masculine enough to admit that I love watching Pakistani dramas, are you?

Being the eldest in the family, I have always been very close to my mother. This is perhaps why I hold a keen interest in watching dramas. Usually, watching Pakistani dramas is seen as a “fluff” activity – something that is specific to women. But I remain unapologetic about being a drama buff and see no harm to it. Pakistani society, at large, is messed up about its values. We are okay with men being physically abusive, but we are not accepting when a woman answers us back. We proudly succumb to societal pressures and gender stereotypes, but we are not okay with a man being ...

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If oil rich Arab countries can support the Palestinians, why not the Rohingya refugees?

A 2015 Amnesty report declared the stateless Rohingya of Burma to be the most persecuted refugees in the world. Their Burmese majority tormenters are trapped between a forgiveness shortfall and a surfeit of rancour at the abortive Rohingya attempt to be annexed by East Pakistan in 1948 followed by an armed insurgency seeking autonomy or independence.  Reprisals have devastated the civilian population. There are currently 140,000 Rohingya refugees mired in squalor in Bangladesh, India and Thailand in the latest phase of their on-going exodus. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called the violence against the Rohingya a “slow genocide”. On November 30th, France 24 broadcasted that a concerted crackdown from ...

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The minority protection bill is both Islamic and constitutional

The Sindh Criminal (Protect of Minorities) Bill 2016, passed by the Sindh Provincial Assembly seeks to outlaw forced conversions. This has led to a backlash from certain quarters, the self-styled thekaydars of Islam in particular, who say that the bill is unconstitutional and unIslamic.  Unfortunately, these people who are agitating against the law have neither an understanding of the constitution nor that of Islam. But then very few people, including I am sad to say our black coat brethren, have any understanding of constitutional law. “Holy Quran and Sunnah are supreme under the Pakistani constitution” they scream. Their reference is to ...

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I’m a clinical psychologist and loved watching Dear Zindagi

There are times in everyone’s life that they experience a moment so vividly, that everything falls into place. Sometimes movies can do to that too; Dear Zindagi did just that. I’m not the kind of person to stay up late at night and watch movie after movie, but once I started Dear Zindagi, I couldn’t stop. I don’t intend to give away any spoilers but, to sum it up; the acting is superb, the writers have done their homework well, the frames are dreamy but the real catch is the message the movie gives out and how it gives it. Every time we ...

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It is time for Trump to say, “I won the campaign, guys, you can stop the racism now!”

Donald Trump ran an unscripted and an unpredictable presidential campaign and took American politics to an unchartered territory, one that was hideously troubling and rocked the very core of our value system. What Trump’s inflammatory message did script, however, was a very predictable future – a fiery and fierce future, one that will bring out the worst in people, wake up the sleeping demons and cause a socio-political stir of schizophrenically unprecedented proportions. It is painful to witness the plight. It’s apocalyptic just to think that we, as a nation, by electing Donald Trump as president, have decided to put ...

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