Stories published in November, 2017

Verna: A story powerful and lucrative on paper but fails at its execution on screen

Rape is a serious issue that is prevalent in the society. Even talking about rape openly takes a lot of courage, let alone making a movie about it. Shoaib Mansoor is known for making thought-provoking movies on social issues that turn out to be a cinematic delight. His previous movies have been pieces of art for movie-lovers and film students. Verna is his third and recent instalment, so expectations obviously had to be soaring high. His previous movies starred big names like Shaan Shahid, Fawad Khan, Naseeruddin Shah, Imaan Ali, Atif Aslam and Humaima Malick. However, this time, Mansoor does not ...

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Did you think Kamlesh’s “soluchan” was funny?

A video went viral a while ago, which means that you have probably heard of “Kamlesh” and his “soluchan” (solution) by now. For a while, it seemed like you couldn’t go anywhere without the jokes and the memes following you. The documentary on Kamlesh was being shared everywhere, yet for all the wrong reasons. I saw this video accidentally, and could not find a single reason to laugh. In fact, this is the first time I have heard the story of a “kachra chunnay wala” child (garbage collector), the likes of which one can see in Karachi all the time, ...

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Happy Children’s Day, Pakistan! BTW, child sexual abuse increased by 10% since 2016

Child abuse is one of the most prevalent social issues in Pakistan. A 2017 report suggests that there has been a 10% increase in cases since last year alone. The issue is only made worse by the fact that neither do we talk about its prevalence, nor do we take any preventive or rehabilitative measures to deal with it. Topics of importance, such as child abuse, rape, sexual assault, honour killing, forced marriage or mental illness, all are considered taboo and often brushed under the rug. The fear of being shunned by society and victim-shamed is perhaps what keeps some of the victims from speaking up about the issue ...

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The only tabdeeli Imran Khan is successful in bringing is to tabdeel himself into yet another untrustworthy disappointment we call a politician

I can clearly remember the 2013 election – it was my first time voting and I was going to vote for a ‘naya Pakistan’. As a naïve 18-year-old who was generally unfamiliar with politics, I was swept away by the idea of changing the country, the idea of progressing, and Imran Khan’s chants of “tabdeeli aa nahi rahi, tabdeeli agayi hai” (Change is not coming, change is here) served as fodder for my adolescent idealism.   Yes, I voted for Imran and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) that day, and yes, I regret it today. Months later, when the focus was still on the sit-ins and ...

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Nusrat and her dupatta

Nusrat loved to watch the sun come up in the morning, see its rising hues and its foes in the sky that wanted it to go back down – down, down, down, to the abyss of darkness, where there was no light, no hope. So, Nusrat would wake up at 5am. At 4am. At 3:30am. All to see the sun that rose so elegantly into the dewy mornings of October. But she never could. She never could stay tuned to the games of the sun, for the sun was a hopeful deity, and Nusrat’s hope was nonexistent now. So every morning, Nusrat would run with urgent ...

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Without any investigation, how can Pakistan Hockey Federation drop Syeda Sadia and Iqra Javed for accusing their coach of sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is an ugly reality that unfortunately has been known to humanity since times immemorial. Coming from India, the first example that comes to my mind is that of the ancient South Asian epic Mahabharata, acclaimed as a work of literature globally, which also refers to the disrobing of Draupadi by Dushasan, for which the latter has to pay for with his life. In more recent times, the global #MeToo campaign demonstrated how endemic this problem is, cutting across geographical and cultural boundaries. Indeed, for a misogynist like Donald Trump to become the US president, and for Hollywood to have a scandal of the ...

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Bujayote: The future of Pakistan’s musical valley may be bright, but the future of their music is dark

In the extreme north of Pakistan, a small area located in Yasin Valley known as Bujayote, is the home of traditional musicians. According to these artists, this name is associated with one of the very early musicians named ‘Bujaye’, a professional, whose generation pursued this profession. The area is also locally known as “Ustadishoo Deh” which literally means the neighbourhood of the musicians. Yasin Valley is one of the many mountain-locked valleys in the extreme north of Gilgit-Baltistan. The instrumentalists of Yasin perform in a set group of more than three. One of them plays a pair of kettle drums locally called ...

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The Disaster Artist: The best movie about the creation of the worst movie ever?

James Franco, star of the 2010 biographical survival drama, 127 Hours, will now be seen as a quirky new character in his upcoming film, The Disaster Artist. Based on Tom Bissell and Gred Sestero’s award-winning book of the same title, James’s latest venture is actually a recapping account of the making of Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 cult classic, The Room. Wiseau’s melodramatic romance is commonly deemed as ‘the worst film ever made’. From the shoddy direction and production, to the script and acting (or lack thereof), every single aspect of the film received negative reviews from critics and viewers alike. It was reported that ...

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Real Madrid showing Gareth Bale the door isn’t surprising, considering he’s missed 40 of the last 60 games due to injuries

It was the final of the 2014 Copa del Rey  when Gareth Bale’s magical run past Barcelona’s Marc Bartra and the subsequent goal, helped the Los Blancos lift the title. With a jubilant Cristiano Ronaldo watching from the stands, it seemed as if the former Spurs player was ready to be in the centre of Real Madrid’s plans for the future. Unfortunately, however, things did not materialise the way the fans and Bale himself expected them to. If you are a Real Madrid fan, one of the constants in your life would be the amount of injury updates you get to ...

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In Pakistan, rape might go unpunished, but a movie on rape cannot

I recently came across the news regarding the ban on Verna, Shoaib Mansoor’s upcoming film, and was shocked, to say the least. Mansoor has played a monumental role in the revival of Pakistani cinema, delivering masterpieces like Khuda Kay Liye and Bol. Not only were both great films, they were also centred on very important issues that plague our society today. Bol highlighted the practice of having innumerable children in the name of religion, especially when you cannot even feed them, giving us the legendary line, “Jab paal nahin saktey, tou paida kyun karte ho?” (When you cannot provide for them, why do you give birth to them?) Likewise, the movie Khuda ...

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