Stories about Laal

Why are places like Espresso and Dolmen Mall so averse to live music?

I’m standing at Alexanderplatz in Berlin, hearing music from three different directions coming from street artists who have set up their hats. One plays under a bridge, another next to a shopping district and a third outside a beer hall. I’m not sure which one to listen to when I get an urgent e-mail from Marium Kamal. Marium is an artist and a fine arts teacher who, in her free time, manages Shikari; a small indie duo who play only original Urdu and English songs in Karachi. I met her and the band quite cosmically at a coffee shop on my ...

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Vo Jang: Take strength from Faiz Pakistan

As a director, the making of ‘Vo Jang’ was one of the hardest feats that I have ever had to complete. I went through hours of grave contemplating, thinking, and absorbing the gruesomeness of the status quo of Pakistan. At times, the experience became so overwhelming that I would break down completely. Nevertheless, some things have to be said and some brutalities have to be faced. Evil has to be confronted and demons have to be fought even if it all comes at the price of standing on the verge of losing your sanity. ‘Vo Jang’ is a beautiful albeit saddening piece ...

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Bonded to brick kilns: A song for revolution

“That was the darkest decade of our time. Women were considered half-the-man. Workers were as suppressed as slaves. Artists and poets were not allowed to create. Killing in the name of Islam began in that era. And those who resisted either had to face lashes or ended up in the Kafkaesque prison cells of the Lahore fort. Thus, everyone was oppressed except the religious clerics and those who surrendered to the worst military dictator. That was the 80s, but things haven’t really changed yet…”  (Mussarat Aziz) These are the words my mother wrote on a birthday card she gave me ...

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Open Mic Night in Isloo: Just so-so

Open mic nights have fast been gathering immense popularity amongst performers, whether they are singers, dancers, poets or comedians – these nights provide them with a platform to present their act in front of a proper audience. Origami Entertainment in association with Nandos Islamabad organized one such event. I was one of many amateurs that decided to avail this opportunity to play my six string. Registrations were sent, acceptance calls were received and sound checks were made. Unfortunately, the venue was not very big so the inherent limitations of good sound were pretty visible from the get go. Lahore open mic nights ...

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Laal: Fighting fundamentalism with Sufi thought

Clad in black, the darwaish twirls and twirls on his bare feet, so enthralled, so totally immersed as if he was about to whirl himself to a parallel dimension. A child in rags stands nearby, eyeing him gleefully. His eyes shine: he wants to join in. A group of women gather around, clapping, singing, laughing, almost in a trance themselves. The shrine of their patron Saint lurks in the background: the perfect catharsis for the wretched, the refuge of the forsaken! Filmed not long before the bomb-blast at the Pakpattan shrine, Laal’s latest video “Fareeda” pays homage to the Sufi ...

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