So far, Baaghi is authentic and impactful – but will it continue to be so?

Currently airing on Urdu 1 and starring Saba Qamar, Ali Kazmi, Sarmad Khoosat, Irfan Khoosat, Nadia Afghan and Saba Faisal, is a drama called Baaghi. This drama explores the life of Fouzia Azeem aka Qandeel Baloch, the social media superstar who was murdered by her brother in the name of honour. Qamar plays Fouzia Batool – a sparky, witty woman residing in a small village in Punjab. She’s not your average village damsel; she harasses her harassers and talks back to anyone who dare oppress her. Filled with an inviting antagonism and natural charm, Fouzia’s personality is a firecracker. She dances at weddings and sings Noor Jehan songs. ...

Read Full Post

Give Pakistani women a solid tech platform and watch them break every glass ceiling in sight

The empowerment of underprivileged women in the absence of technology is hard to imagine. After all, a basic understanding of programming can encourage them to identify new market trends and eventually embrace entrepreneurship. Similarly, exposure to data analysis and web development skills can afford easier penetration into Pakistan’s booming Information Technology (IT) industry. The industry is home to some of the highest paying jobs in the country, but a dearth of technological training has denied females a level playing field. Therefore, HerDomain has the perfect strategy in place to change that. HerDomain is a non-profit technological startup that provides coding skills and ...

Read Full Post

71st Independence Day special: The evolution of Pakistan’s national song

In the last 70 years, the Pakistan national song has evolved through various governments, wars and music styles. We trace this evolution by reviewing a plethora of national songs from 1947 till the present. Sar Zameen-e-Pak: The first anthem (1947) Very few know that almost seven years before Hafeez Jalandhari’s Pak Sar Zameen was officially adopted as the country’s national anthem (in 1954), Pakistan already had an anthem. Today, it is all but forgotten, despite the fact that it was the first song played by Radio Pakistan when the station began broadcasting at the stroke of Pakistan’s creation in August 1947. The anthem ...

Read Full Post

The untold story of what made ‘Among the Believers’ an Emmy-worthy documentary

In the summer of 2014, I was living in New York when I met Hemal Trivedi. She told me she was making a film about Pakistan and wanted me to join her and the other director, Mohammed Ali Naqvi, to help them craft the narrative authentically. I had seen dozens of films about Pakistan that were made by foreign filmmakers and honestly, most of them were horribly inaccurate. I felt it was a story worth telling which is why I decided to take the job. The first step of editing any documentary is to familiarise oneself with the raw footage by ...

Read Full Post

How many times will Daniel Craig play James Bond until he realises he’s too old for the job?

Take a little time to go through the following comment: “I’d rather break this glass and slash my wrists (if I were asked to do it again).” Now consider this other remark: “If I were to stop doing it, I would miss it terribly.” Believe it or not, both of the aforementioned quotes are attributed to a singular person on – wait for it –working as the titular agent in the next instalment of the James Bond film series. For the uninitiated, that would be Englishman Daniel Craig who was the seventh actor to have played Agent 007. Daniel Craig in Skyfall (2012) Anyway, reverting to the ...

Read Full Post

Pakistani documentary makers are getting nominated for Emmys, but their own country does not give them any recognition

In Pakistan, documentary films are to cinema what hockey is to sports. We don’t see a lot of hockey on TV, just like we don’t get to see any documentaries screened across the country. Even if our documentaries or hockey make it big, they don’t get as much recognition as popular genres of entertainment or sports do. To me, this phenomenon seems like the proverbial case of the child who cries the most and gets the most toys. If the Oscars are anything to go by, Pakistan has a couple of them, and that too in documentary filmmaking and by the same filmmaker. Deep ...

Read Full Post

Ghairat: Exploring the orthodox beliefs and customs of honour killings and love marriages

Just when we started to see a glimmer of hope due to recent political events, many of us were given a harsh reality check. We were once again made to see the reality of our patriarchal society. We are once again talking about honour by stooping down to the level of discussing an unsuspecting female’s choice of clothing to become Pakistan’s top female squash player. We are once again associating izzat (honour) with the restrictive codes that women in Pakistan are expected to abide by. I will leave this specific matter until further investigation and evidence from both parties. However, this particular incident has evoked memories of several horror stories of honour killings in ...

Read Full Post

Dear Disney, casting Naomi Scott as Jasmine just because she’s brown highlights the Orientalist tendency of conflating all brown cultures

Disney recently announced their selections for the cast of the new live-action remake of the 1992 animated movie, Aladdin. The announcement, however, was met with widespread outrage. British actress Naomi Scott of Indian heritage was selected to play Jasmine, and people were furious at Disney’s failure to give the opportunity to someone who is actually Arab. Prior to this announcement, Disney had disclosed that they had been having difficulty selecting Middle Eastern actors for the part. “It can’t be easy to cast a Middle Eastern actor as a terrorist but difficult to cast the same people in a leading role,” the journalist Rawan Eewshah wrote for Allure on ...

Read Full Post

Dear Saif Ali Khan, an apology is not the same as a thousand-words essay on nepotism

If Saif Ali Khan’s ‘apology’ to Kangana Ranaut was not bad enough, the man has gone ahead and penned an open letter on nepotism now, and oh boy, what a treat it is! First, a bit of background – Karan Johar, Varun Dhawan and  Saif Ali Khan, the three privileged elites of that ‘big family’ called Bollywood who have made it bigger in the industry by virtue of having influential insiders for parents, took on a lone self-made woman who called out the ‘big daddy’ of nepotism in the film industry. Thankfully, their “nepotism rocks” joke managed to blow up in their faces because people on social media went berserk ...

Read Full Post

Instead of trying to earn cheap gains, Careem should focus on what powered their core business – safety

There is no place in the world where women can feel as safe or have the same privileges as men. But it is especially hard in Pakistan where discrimination is an endemic, thanks to the entitled mind-set of the typical Pakistani male. Abuse ranges from violence to sexual harassment, or worse, and no classes, locations or environments are completely safe from this. Some time ago, after someone close to me faced repeated harassment at the workplace through texts and emails, which included hundreds of threats of sexual violence, I was inspired to write an article investigating how deep the problem is in Pakistani work culture. The results were shocking. You’d ...

Read Full Post