Stories published in April, 2017

Watch, process, rewind, repeat: What in the world is the new Star Wars trailer suggesting?

When the last known Jedi, Luke Skywalker, himself seems to think that “it’s time for the Jedi to end”, you can’t help but sit up and take notice. Not that Disney dropping the first trailer of Star Wars: Episode VIII alone wasn’t a cultural event in itself (unless you’ve been hiding in a galaxy far, far away, you probably would have heard the news). In all likelihood to Luke’s aforementioned statement, the title Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a direct sequel to The Force Awakens. Initial shock aside, do they really expect us to believe that Jedi would simply go extinct? Just like that! Not when ...

Read Full Post

Ghost in the Shell: When filmmakers choose style over substance

Almost everyone’s vision of the (very distant) future is bound to include robots and robotics playing an integral role in everyday human lives. The future envisioned in the film Ghost in the Shell is no different, but it takes the concept one step further, leading us to a setting where the line between human and machine is fast disappearing. The westernised adaptation of the Japanese science-fiction manga classic finds humans living in a world where, thanks to advancements in technology, people now have the option to enhance themselves with cybernetic parts. But Hanka Robotics, the globe’s leading developer of such augmentation, has ...

Read Full Post

Bidding farewell to the stalwart heroes of Pakistan Test cricket

The upcoming Test series in West Indies will be the last time we get to see Misbahul Haq and Younus Khan sporting the colours of Pakistan, as both these players will bid farewell to Test cricket after the series ends. The series will provide both players an ideal opportunity to conclude their respective careers on a high note. Misbah has great prospects of becoming the first Pakistani captain to win a Test series in West Indies, whereas Younus is at a hand-shaking distance from becoming the first Pakistani player to reach the 10,000-runs mark in Test cricket. I hope to see both players achieve their respective milestones ...

Read Full Post

Is Turkey transforming into a fundamentalist religious state?

Turkey has given its verdict in the referendum paving the way for a powerful Tayyip Erdogan presidency. Although the margin of victory is close and is contested by the opposition, but it does not really matter. Erdogan has gotten what he wanted. If one has to draw an analogy with Pakistani politicians of the past and present, it would be apt to say that Erdogan is on his way towards becoming what Ziaul Haq had been in the 1980s, what Nawaz Sharif wanted to be in the late 1990s, and what Imran Khan perhaps wants to be in the future – an autocratic religious head of the state. In Turkey’s ...

Read Full Post

Dear Imran Khan, if you want justice for Mashal, then start with your councillor, Arif Mardan

I was pleasantly surprised to see Imran Khan visiting the parents of the slain student Mashal Khan, who was lynched for reasons which will perhaps never be known. 1. This morning I condoled with Mashal's family and was moved by their amazing courage and dignity pic.twitter.com/AkZFdqxyIp — Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) April 18, 2017 So congratulations, Mr Imran, you knew that you would offend your coalition partners, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government by openly condemning the brutal murder of the innocent student. Even your chief minister, Pervez Khattak, said that there was no written or verbal proof of him committing blasphemy. ...

Read Full Post

Does ‘Punjab Nahi Jaungi’ have what it takes to rejuvenate Pakistan’s film industry?

There is a lot of spectacle, colour, emotion, singing and dancing in the recently released teaser of Punjab Nahi Jaungi. Two beautiful ladies, however, stand out amidst all the razzle and dazzle of the decidedly glitzy 75-second video. One is the glamorous Saba Waseem Abbas who walks ever so seductively, wearing pink, orange and purple, to welcome a triumphant Humayun Saeed to her home. The second is the perennially beautiful Naveed Shahzad who registers her regal presence in the teaser with remarkable grace and style. Photo: Screenshot There is, of course, no shortage of eye candy in Punjab Nahi Jaungi. The first collaboration of ARY Films and Six Sigma ...

Read Full Post

Naureen Laghari, Pakistan’s very own IS bride

In the aftermath of Mashal Khan’s lynching, it is vital that we re-examine some of our assumptions about religious extremism in our society. We can no longer assume that extremism and violence are the territory of the uneducated or the lower classes. The men who beat Khan to death were educated; university employees, students and even a political figure or two were included in the First Information Reports (FIRs). Another case has surfaced that challenges our assumptions even more – that of a young medical student called Naureen Laghari. Laghari, who was studying to become a doctor at Liaquat Medical University in Hyderabad, Sindh, had been reported ...

Read Full Post

Fate of the Furious is nothing but a slow and strenuous collection of ludicrous action pieces

Remind me again, what exactly is this whole franchise? There is no way it can be termed as a movie series. Films, after all, require some resemblance to a story. But in furiousverse, there is no such thing as a plot.  We have simply got a collection of ludicrous action set-pieces that are connected together by filler scenes comprising of hot chicks, lame gags and tediously boring monologues about the importance of ‘la familia’. But – with due respect to all the furiousheads out there – in our universe, this might be called a show reel, but there is ...

Read Full Post

India’s neighbourhood-first policy is meaningless if it remains disengaged from Pakistan

The Kulbhushan Jadhav episode is no longer front-page news; it doesn’t even get air time on prime-time shows on various Indian and Pakistani channels anymore either. The issue once again brings to the fore how fragile the India -Pakistan relationship is. It shows how, in the absence of a mutual engagement, the subcontinent keeps careering from one flashpoint to another. India argues that Jadhav, who was sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan, has not been given a fair trial. Furthermore, Islamabad denied New Delhi’s counsellor access, despite repeated requests over the last couple of years. Pakistan says that he is a Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) ...

Read Full Post

Is Trump aware of the catastrophic consequences of fighting a war with nuclear-armed North Korea?

These days, for the most unfortunate reasons, there’s no dearth of events clamouring to grab the headlines in the US. A perpetual flow of rudimentary as well as impactful (read ‘incendiary’) news keeps on piling stress and frustration on those who dare to care. From the Sean Spicer gaffes to airline functionaries literally trying to beat their passengers to death, to the never-ending Russian hacking saga, the news cycle is as bizarre as it gets. While the plight of conscientious governance is too hard to miss, what’s worth noting and most incredibly intriguing is how conveniently the Donald Trump administration has within a matter of few days managed to manoeuvre ...

Read Full Post