Stories about Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Nandita Das does justice to the iconoclastic Manto in a way Sarmad Khoosat could not

Viewing the trailer of Nandita Das’s Manto was a great pleasure, especially since prior to seeing Sarmad Khoosat’s biopic of Saadat Hasan Manto released in 2015, I had not seen its trailer. Comparisons of Das’s version with Khoosat’s trailer will seem inevitable, even much-needed, given what the respective directors and main actors are trying to prove in a short span of less than three minutes, if the trailers are to be believed. Das’s Manto, played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, comes across as an iconoclast and a rebel right from the opening scene of the trailer, where Manto is shown to be in ...

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Happy 84th Birthday to Gulzar: 5 short poems for the 21st century revoluntionary

Gulzar remains one of the most influential, intellectual and cultural figures in the Indian subcontinent. His towering contributions as a poet, short-story writer, filmmaker, scriptwriter, lyricist and a story-writer for children are well-known. What is less well-known is the fact that he was born in the city of Dina, near Jhelum in Punjab, 13 years before the Partition. Today marks his 84th birthday, and thus the month of August is synonymous with the Partition of India as well as the birthday of Gulzar. Equally well-known is Gulzar’s love for both the Urdu language and Pakistan. As a birthday tribute, I have ...

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Coke Studio season 11 shows how beautifully diverse Pakistan is

In the midst of an agonising election season, and after the incredible success of Coke Studio Explorer, we just witnessed the release of the Coke Studio season 11 trailer. Leaving us utterly speechless with its ravishing and inclusive rendition of ‘Hum Dekhenge’ by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the song previewed many of the artists who will make their Coke Studio debut this season. Coke Studio has perhaps finally caught on to showcasing new artists that needed mainstream public attention for so long. These new artists are not only well-versed in their melodic symphonies, but also carry a cultural reminder, exemplifying what Pakistan’s ...

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Remembering Habib Jalib: the torch-bearer of resistance through poetry

There is no doubt the languages of Pakistan are rich when it comes to resistance poetry. One need not look far; in Urdu alone, names such as Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ahmad Faraz, Josh Malihabadi, Kishwar Naheed, Fahmida Riaz and Zehra Nigah come right up. Then there are names such as Shaikh Ayaz, Attiya Dawood and Amar Sindhu for Sindhi; Mir Gul Khan Naseer for Balochi; Ustad Daman, Ahmad Rahi, Ahmad Salim, Nasreen Anjum Bhatti, Najm Hosain Syed and Fakhar Zaman for Punjabi; Janbaz Jatoi and Shakir Shuja Abadi  for Seraiki; and Khan Abdul Ghani Khan, Qalandar Momand, Khatir Ghaznavi, Farigh ...

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How I jumped off the porch and wrote a book at the age of 21

When I was seven-years-old, I wrote a poem about a cat too afraid to jump off a three-foot porch. The cat’s name was Tom, and he was afraid of heights and thought he’d die if he made the jump. At the end of the two stanza poem, Tom makes the jump and realises he’s a fairly good jumper – as all cats are. From that day on, Tom isn’t afraid to jump off the porch. From that day on, Tom is brave. When I was 16-years-old, I fell in love with an amazing girl who would go on and break ...

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Coke Studio 10: A season of tributes that is too star-studded to be true?

You cannot make everyone happy. And nowhere does this apply more fittingly than to every offering of Pakistan’s musical opus: Coke Studio. The show, a success story like no other, has put Pakistan on the global culture map, but continues to divide opinions roaringly, more so of late. If the show plays it safe with covers, it’s unoriginal; if it delves into too much innovation, it becomes another Nescafe Basement. Navigating through the public complaints doesn’t always seem smooth for this show that has single-handedly rejuvenated Pakistan’s musical scene. With the line-up for the latest season having just been released, the furore is already upon us. For ...

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I think, pray and speak in English, so why should I speak to my children in Urdu?

My twins are almost three-years-old and they can’t speak Urdu, my ‘mother tongue’. They hear it being spoken around the house, and occasionally I may try to converse with them in Urdu but truth be told, it doesn’t come naturally. As first-time parents, we did get the infamous lecture that we should only speak to our children in Urdu or else they will never be able to speak the language. People would say, “Don’t worry, they will learn English at school but you must speak to them in Urdu.” The common fear is that our children will drift away from their cultural heritage. Most people believe that language is what will keep our ...

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Hindi Medium proves that English is still the language of the colonisers, except the elite are the colonisers now

When you think of language, you think in a language. For me, it’s English. It always has been. Sometimes, I wonder if my thoughts were in another language, would I be different? Would my life have turned out differently? Perhaps. You never know, that’s the thing. Hindi Medium made me realise that language has the power to change. I see it every day around me. I see it at work when I try to communicate in Urdu but my vocabulary falls short. I used to see it in school, when people mocked that one kid for speaking in Urdu because God forbid, ...

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Who let the Kuttay out?

What’s nearly as good as reading an Urdu poem? Simple! Hearing it sung. This might sound ridiculous to many of you out there, and if the poet in question is the legendary Faiz Ahmed Faiz, even blasphemous, but here me out. When was the last time you allowed yourself to indulge in written Urdu kalaam? Get my point? So, when we get to hear relatively obscure work of these literary maestros, since we seem to be so averse to the idea of actually reading them, I believe it’s something to be valued rather than being ridiculed. This brings me to ‘Kuttay‘, ...

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Mian Iftikharuddin: The stranger in the house

On March 29, 1953, Mian Iftikharuddin said that it was regretful that the Army had stepped in to control the anti-Ahmadi riots, that the government had “shown a way to coup d’ etat” and hoped that “the Army will (sic) be relieved of its extramarital functions” A statement made by a person with clear vision of a democratic future for his country, which appeared on the map of this world with name of Pakistan. One man who stood out more than the others in his quest to transform the newly formed state into a modern, democratic and secular society was Mian Iftikharuddin. He was ...

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