Has contemporary Urdu poetry lost its essence?

In Urdu literature, traditionally two concepts have remained dominant with regards to where creativity emanates from. The first is amad (spontaneity) and second is awrad (contrived). For a long time, the majority of Urdu writers, and the socio-cultural ethos in general, tilted more towards the amad theory, with Mirza Ghalib writing, “Aate hain ghaib se ye mazaameen khayaal mein Ghalib  sareer-e-Khaama nawaa-e-sarosh hai…” (The subjects (for my poetry) come to me from divine hidden sources, The scratching sound my pen makes resonates like the sound of angels) There were several writers who grappled with these ideas in Urdu literature, however they were not formally conceptualised until Muhammad Hussain Azad, ...

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Is Durj worth the controversy?

Pakistani cinema is slowly (read at a snail’s pace) evolving to encompass a wider range of issues rather than just plots centred around the typical boy meets girl and disaster ensues. Durj is one such offshoot movie that tackles the sensitive, almost taboo, subject of cannibalism. This dark theme, however, is not the reason why Durj has been in the spotlight of late. Controversy has surrounded the Shamoon Abbasi starring mystery thriller even before its release, with only two out of three censor boards of the country clearing the movie initially. But as they say, no publicity is bad publicity ...

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Zahid Mayo: Breaking the canvas

When Zahid Mayo was studying at one of the most notable art colleges in the country, the National College of Arts (NCA) Lahore, he was a square peg in a round hole. Mayo had dreamed of studying there since he was a teenager and finally managed to gain admission in 2008. But, having come from a small village near Gujranwala, he felt alienated in his new surroundings. His fellow students with their impeccable English and urban ways made him feel like he will always be an outsider. But then again, Mayo was not one to take such things sitting down, and ...

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El Camino is nothing more than an extended Breaking Bad episode

In the days leading up to the release of El Camino, the Breaking Bad fandom eagerly dissected every single frame of the film’s trailer, making it glaringly obvious that there were high expectations from the movie. And why wouldn’t there be? After all, the movie is a follow-up to one of the most critically acclaimed television series ever made.  Drama creator Vince Gilligan once again taking the helm for the movie was another factor screaming that the cinematic continuation was bound to be a masterpiece. But high expectations are a slippery slope and perhaps, for this very reason, the thoroughly entertaining El Camino seemed just a tad bit ...

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Joker is a masterpiece in (almost) every sense

You would think that Joker has no earthly reason to exist as anything other than a gimmick aimed at making profits off a highly marketable property. However, Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix have elevated it into a politically conscious art piece that defies all expectations. Joker’s past The most important thing to understand about the Joker, is that he isn’t meant to be understood. He is, by design, a villain beyond comprehension. You are not supposed to put yourself in his big clown shoes. Joker, more ‘it’ than ‘he’, is an avatar of chaotic evil; a human-ish represenation of a gas cylinder exploding ...

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Unbelievable treats a sensitive issue in a very believable way

Presenting a sensitive issue like rape without sensationalisation and while offering utmost respect to the victims has always been difficult for the popular media. In my opinion, the way that such issues were portrayed in 13 Reasons Why is an example of how these issues can be used to make money. The recent Netflix original titled Unbelievable, however, takes the road less travelled.  Instead of merely touching upon the topic of rape for enhancing numbers and revenue, this sensitive series examines the real life trauma felt by rape victims. Based on a 2015 news article “An unbelievable story of rape”, this Netflix miniseries portrays ...

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Is Ad Astra Brad Pitt’s second entry to the Oscars this year?

Since the release of Stanley Kubrick’s seminal sci-fi opus 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968, the studio-mandated space-bound epic has been a staple of yearly theatrical releases.They occupy a spectrum ranging from Andrei Tarkovsky’s existential art film Solaris (1971) to the genre-defining franchise kick-starter Star Wars (1977). In the past five years alone, productions such as Interstellar (2014), The Martian (2015), The Critically Maligned Passengers (2016), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) and First Man (2018) have proven that the market for this specific sub-genre persists with the aid of general audiences.And, like clockwork, another contender comes forth in ...

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Rambo: Last Blood draws first failure

  The final chapter of the Rambo series was released this week, called Rambo: Last Blood. Fans of the series, including me had high hopes from the movie considering the unique story line it introduced years ago through Ted Khotcheff’s, First Blood. Nevertheless, after watching the movie, it became nearly impossible to believe that the series began not as a franchise but as a smartly made, action-packed and contemplative stand-alone film. The series opened with a distinctive plot about a soldier coming back home from the Vietnam War who is struggling to grapple with PTSD. In many ways the film offered ...

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Khumariyaan: the intoxicating quartet

When I sat down to talk to Khumariyaan, one of the most happening bands currently on the local music circuit, one thing was obvious: the quartet possessed energy that was four times higher than what you’d expect. Although they’ve been around for a while, since 2008 to be precise, it was their gig on Coke Studio and their Lux Style Award winning track, Ya Qurban that garnered quite a lot of attention. Khumariyaan, literally meaning ‘people in a state of intoxication’, started like most other bands — some friends from Peshawar were just hanging out, jamming and having fun. Aamer Shafiq, Farhan Bogra and Shiraz Khan ...

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Blinded by the Light: the best non-Pakistani Pakistani movie ever

Every now and then, there comes a film in the cinemas that silently grabs you and pulls you into a seat with overpriced popcorn and a head full of questions. And when it does, you realise this is all you were looking for. That this is what you were waiting for; for a long, long time. Blinded by the Light is just that movie. Here’s a bit of context. I moved to Canada in 2012 from Karachi, Pakistan. Since as long as I can remember, I’ve had an obscure taste in music. By obscure I mean I liked unconventional pop ...

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