Stories published in February, 2017

Can Asghar Farhadi bag another Oscar for The Salesman?

The Salesman is the new Iranian film by master filmmaker, Asghar Farhadi.  The story revolves around an Iranian couple (Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti) who after an earthquake, are forced to move into a new apartment. They both work as actors and are relatively happy with their current situation. But tragedy strikes when an intruder invades their home in the absence of the husband and he is now in search for the culprit. Taraneh Alidoosti and Shahab Hosseini in Forushande (The Salesman). Photo: Habib Majidi/IMDb Taraneh Alidoosti and Shahab Hosseini in Forushande (The Salesman). Photo: Habib ...

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Analysing a Valentine’s Day protest mob

There were a string of terrorist attacks last week in Pakistan. On Tuesday 14, 2017, the Islami Jamiat-e-Taliba (IJT) came out in numbers vehemently protesting…Valentine’s Day. Photo: AFP Their creative banners included F shamelessness – it is not clear whether the F was used as a verb i.e. the protestor wants to do something vile and inappropriate to shamelessness or whether he is a teacher at the University who has failed shamelessness. The way the man is dressed in a denim shirt makes me think he got stood up on a date and decided to join the other protestors. Maybe his ...

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Jackie: Beautifully directed and acted but lacks courage

Pablo Larraín’s latest film, a biopic about Jacqueline Kennedy (Natalie Portman) from the days after John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s death is one of 2016’s most frustrating films. It feels far too much like an obscured portrait of its own subject. Natalie Portman and Caspar Phillipson in Jackie (2016).Photo: IMDb. Natalie Portman in Jackie (2016).Photo: IMDb. On one hand, its technical marvels cannot be denied and it’s directed in a unique way that’s quite immersive, up to the point that it feels almost like a psychodrama at times. But at other times the film just feels empty, reaching ...

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Love him or hate him, it’s time we bid adieu to Pakistan’s Boom Boom

For more than 20 years, the name Shahid Afridi has been part and parcel of Pakistan cricket, so much so that Pakistan’s cricketing history would be incomplete without highlighting his contributions. Even the greatest of cricketers have found it difficult to dominate oppositions from the very beginning of their careers, but that was not the case with Afridi. The manner in which he announced himself on the international arena was beyond amazing. He made a mockery of the Sri Lankan bowling attack in the second ODI match of his career, scoring the fastest century off just 37 balls, a record ...

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Can someone in Pakistan please address the ever-growing elephant in the room?

The way a doctor needs to address a patient’s critical problems first, before evaluating the less threatening ones, a country too needs its public policy practitioners to tackle its grave issues before moving to its trivial ones. We can build all the roads, metro buses, and Orange lines as envisioned by the government ruling the centre, or we can start focusing on health and education as proposed by the opposition instead. However, there is absolutely no way to meet the needs of Pakistan’s people if the population continues to grow as it has been for the past seven decades. According to the 1951 census, West Pakistan had a ...

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Is Islam the most feminist religion?

I’ve been reading about Australian youth activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied (we appeared on an Australian show once together) and her words to Jacqui Lambie on an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television show that Islam is (to her) the most feminist religion. Yassmin got pilloried in the Australian press for this statement. With the state of affairs for women in many Muslim countries today, it’s easy to see how it might not sit well with a cynical and non-Muslim-friendly audience. It would have gone down great with an audience full of Muslims, but we should probably unpack the statement a little bit to come somewhere between the optimism of Yassmin’s assertion and the rest of ...

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An American Muslim veteran reflects on resisting the Muslim Ban

I am an American Muslim veteran. I was raised in America, and I joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) while in college. I followed in the footsteps of generations of men in my family who have served proudly and with distinctions in the military. Many of my family members served in the Pakistani military and were immensely proud of me when I commissioned for the US Air Force. Loyalty to one’s country and respect for the armed forces is a part of my family’s heritage. Upon joining the military, I was proud to fight under the flag of ...

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Is the Charsada attack shaping a narrative for Pakistan that we need to change?

As I started writing, breaking news tickers were flashing across my TV screen, stating that seven people have been killed while over 21 others have been injured in today’s Charsadda attack. An image conjures in my head, entailing a court session in progress, full of burning candles being dowsed in multiple blows. Another few die, while my brothers look for love. To love is to comprehend; to comprehend something is to go beyond a single story. Yet one single story often goes beyond how we view the world. For example, some common assumptions include, girls are bad at sports, men avoid commitment, corporates are evil, Ireland is unsafe ...

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The Great Wall: When Hollywood marries Chinese mythology, and it just doesn’t work out

The East and the West have teamed up for the monster flick The Great Wall, a CGI-drenched, high budget action fest that comes off as nothing more than a wasted opportunity.  The Chinese-American co-production tries to marry Hollywood blockbuster sensibilities with Chinese mythology but forgets to add anything compelling to the mix. The premise revolves around the legend that the Great Wall of China was constructed as a barrier against the Tao Tei – a horde of alien monsters that rise every 60 years as a reminder of what happens when greed is unchecked. Two European mercenaries – William Garin (Matt ...

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Kong: Skull Island checks all the right boxes!

Regardless of what film purists might have to say about it, I have got a very strong opinion on how there are only certain movies that should be watched in cinema. Well, fortunately for myself and for those who subscribe to this particular filmy quirk, we should be potentially psyched to bow down before our new cinematic overlord, King Kong, who is all set to hit the screens shortly. I believe this bold new take on the mythos of an iconic beast is precisely what cinema experience is all about. Going by genre conventions, this sort of a movie is ...

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