Today's Pakistan: Conservative or Progressive?

Pakistan is often portrayed in the international media, particularly the western media, as a highly tradition-bound conservative society dominated by Taliban sympathizers.  Fatima Bhutto, a granddaughter of former Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, offers evidence to suggest otherwise. 

Fatima Bhutto

In a recent Op Ed published in The Guardian titled "Superheroes, jazz, queer art: how Pakistan’s transgressive pop culture went global", Fatima Bhutto offers recent examples of the Pakistani pop culture going global. In particular, she cites television series Ms. Marvel, feature film Joyland, Grammy winning Urdu singer Arooj Aftab, world-famous qawwali singers Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Abida Parveen, celebrated artists Shazia Sikandar and Salman Toor,  and novelists like Mohammad Hanif, the author of "A Case of Exploding Mangoes". 

Fatima talks about the history of the ongoing struggle between the conservatives and the progressives that dates back to the nation's independence in 1947. She also contrasts Pakistan with India: "Though Bollywood films from earlier decades addressed injustice, feudalism and political oppression, today the industry is little more than a mouthpiece for India’s quasi-fascist rightwing government, obsessed with spit-shining the image of its prime minister, Narendra Modi". Below are a some excepts of Fatima Bhutto's Op Ed:

1. "Even though the film (Joyland) was...subject to various bans in Pakistan, after being accused of pushing an LGBTQ+ agenda and misrepresenting Pakistani culture, it finally appeared in Pakistani cinemas in November, with Malala Yousafzai signing on as executive producer".  Note: Joyland was the first Pakistani film to be screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival where "it won the Un Certain Regard prize, receiving a standing ovation nearly 10 minutes long".   

2. "Ms Marvel follows Kamala Khan, whose parents, formerly of Karachi and now of New Jersey, are not caricatures of immigrant parents, but droll and charming, embarrassing in the way all parents are while their young daughter suffers the indignities of teenagers everywhere. The writing team knows only too well the codes and ciphers of Pakistani life and have seamlessly blended them into this Disney tale. Kamala has a brother who prays constantly (every Pakistani family has one resident fundamentalist), her father quotes poetry at the dinner table and Nakia, her hijab-wearing best friend, has her shoes stolen at the mosque – a timeless rite of passage for all mosque-going Muslims". 

3. "In the past few months, the contemporary Pakistani artists Shahzia Sikander and Salman Toor have been glowingly profiled in the New Yorker; Toor’s Four Friends recently sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $1.2m (£0.99m). His paintings are celebrated for their depictions of queer intimacy, and reimaginings of classical masterpieces from Caravaggio to Édouard Manet. “My immediate reaction was that this artist could paint anything and make me believe in it,” wrote the New Yorker’s Calvin Tomkins".

4. "Pakistanis have always understood their heritage to be culturally rich and transgressive: from the romance of the Urdu language, spoken by poets and in royal courts, to qawwali singers as diverse as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Abida Parveen, to television dramas and literature. Artists such as Iqbal Bano sang songs against dictators and shows on state television satirized military juntas with jokes so sophisticated that even army censors couldn’t catch them. In 1969, Pakistan state television aired Khuda Ki Basti, or God’s Own Land, a series set in a Karachi slum in the tumultuous days after independence, from a classic Urdu novel. To ensure that the drama was faithful to the novel, Pakistan state television convened a board of intellectuals to oversee the scripts, including Faiz Ahmed Faiz, one of the country’s most beloved poets". 

5. “We’ve been having a really hard time in a post-9/11 world,” says the Brooklyn-based Arooj Aftab, the first Pakistani musician to win a Grammy, taking home the 2022 award for best global music performance. Aftab’s album Vulture Prince reimagines traditional ghazals, melancholic love poems born out of Arabic and Persian literary traditions. “There’s been a significant amount of Islamophobia and a lot of bad marketing towards Pakistan in general – associations with terrorism and pain and Afghanistan-adjacent confusion – while the narrative around a lot of other south Asian countries is like ‘Oh my God! Beauty! Exotic landscapes! Yoga!’ And the west loves that shit.”

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Comment by Riaz Haq on December 28, 2022 at 8:24am

Pakistani Pop Culture Has Had a Global Year
From Cannes to the Grammys, the country’s arts shone on multiple occasions in 2022

By Surbhi Gupta

Between the first Pakistani win at the Grammys, the first Pakistani film to be selected at the Cannes Film Festival, a Pakistani song topping the most-searched list on Google, local actors featured in international series, and the highest-grossing film in the history of Pakistani cinema, 2022 has been a banner year for Pakistani art.

Pakistani music and television dramas have long been popular cultural exports in South Asia and its diaspora communities. Yet some legendary artists and performers have enjoyed legacies transcending the subcontinent, placing the country squarely on the global map. The singer Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, known as the “Shahenshah-e-Qawwali” (the “King of Kings of Qawwali”), single-handedly popularized the musical form among international audiences. A form of devotional song, qawwalis were originally performed at Sufi shrines across South Asia. He toured extensively, performing in over 40 countries in the 1980s and ’90s and becoming an inspiration for musicians the world over, from the United States to India and beyond.

In 1981, 15-year-old Nazia Hassan and her elder brother Zohaib made history when their album “Disco Deewane” became one of Asia’s best sellers. It broke all records in Pakistan and India and charted in 14 countries, including the West Indies and Russia. Nazia went on to pioneer disco revolution in Indian film music in the 1980s. In the ‘90s, the four-member band Junoon put Sufi rock on the musical map when they merged elements of rock with Sufi poetry and instruments such as the tabla and dholak. Dubbed the “U2 of Pakistan” by Western media, Junoon performed at New York’s Central Park in 1998 to an audience of over 20,000, quite apart from other concerts in countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Denmark and Japan.

After two decades, Pakistani pop culture and art finds itself in the limelight once again this year. Coke Studio is the longest-running musical program in Pakistan, ongoing since 2008. Now on YouTube, the show creates studio-recorded collaborations between established and emerging artists in the country, fusing a myriad of music influences such as classical, folk, Sufi, qawwali, ghazal and bhangra with hip hop, rock and pop. It is extremely popular in South Asia, with fans awaiting it with great anticipation. When season 14 was released this January, it was no surprise that it was a success.

What no one had expected, however, was that the song “Pasoori” — a collaboration between the Pakistani singer Ali Sethi, who has a huge following in South Asia, and Shae Gill, a newcomer popular on Instagram for her covers — would turn out to be a global hit. Apart from racking up almost 460 million views on YouTube and becoming the most watched Coke Studio video, it also became the first Pakistani song to top Spotify’s global viral charts. Last week, it was revealed that it topped the list of most-searched songs on Google in 2022, beating the K-pop band BTS.

“Pasoori” — which roughly translates to “conflict” or “difficulty” in Punjabi, a language spoken in both India and Pakistan — draws on the age-old story of forbidden love. It emerged from Sethi’s experiences in engaging with the walls that exist between India and Pakistan, countries that share histories and cultures but are always at the brink of war. The song’s popularity prompted several Western publications to take notice of Sethi and commission stories on him. He now has over 5.7 million monthly listeners on Spotify.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 28, 2022 at 8:25am

Pakistani Pop Culture Has Had a Global Year
From Cannes to the Grammys, the country’s arts shone on multiple occasions in 2022

By Surbhi Gupta

Fans flooded social media with their covers and remixes of the song, which fused South Asian motifs with electronic dance tunes. Coke Studio itself released a remixed version in August, featuring a global collaboration between Sethi, the Egyptian rapper Marwan Moussa and the Nigerian singer Reekado Banks. To celebrate the success and popularity of this season, an in-person concert, Coke Studio Live, was held for the first time in Dubai. On Friday, Gill and Sethi released an acoustic version of the song in collaboration with the Grammy-winning American artist Noah Georgeson.

Following the runaway success of “Pasoori,” Pakistan enjoyed another high moment in April. In Los Angeles, the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Arooj Aftab became the first Pakistani to win a Grammy Award for Best Global Music Performance for her single “Mohabbat,” her reinterpretation of Pakistani singer Mehdi Hassan and poet Hafeez Hoshiyarpuri’s famed ghazal. She was also invited by the White House to perform during Eid celebrations in May and went on a tour of over 15 cities in Europe and North America. Aftab has been nominated again this year for “Udhero na,” her collaboration with the Indian-origin sitar player Anoushka Shankar.

Another triumph came in May, when the filmmaker Saim Sadiq’s directorial debut “Joyland” became the first Pakistani film to be selected as an official entry at the Cannes Film Festival. In addition to receiving a long standing ovation — which in itself is considered an award at Cannes — the film won the Jury Prize and Queer Palm Prize. It later became Pakistan’s first-ever official entry to the Oscars and has generated much buzz among moviegoers globally. It was invited to the Toronto International Film Festival and also screened at the Busan International Film Festival.

Unpacking nuances of gender and patriarchy, the film follows Haider, the youngest son of “a happily patriarchal joint family” in Lahore, who yearns for the birth of a baby boy. Though married, he falls in love with a trans starlet he meets after secretly joining an erotic dance theater group. “Their impossible love story slowly illuminates the entire Rana family’s desire for a sexual rebellion,” read the Cannes synopsis.

The film generated great interest and controversy for its storyline and for featuring the trans actor Alina Khan. It was almost banned in Pakistan ahead of its release in November, amid a heated campaign against trans rights by religious hardliners. Yet the global interest in the film and a dedicated social media campaign prompted the federal government to intervene and pave the way for its release. This was unprecedented: Film bans are common in Pakistan, but reversing them is not. However, the film is still not running in Punjab, where it is based, and distributors have no hope for its release.

“The feat achieved by ‘Joyland’ is remarkable as Pakistani cinema is at a nascent stage,” said Shaheera Anwar, a Pakistani entertainment journalist. The country “neither has a thriving film industry like India nor an indie film culture. It has no film festivals like other countries to showcase local stories.”

The year was also marked by several international outings made by Pakistani actors. In June, a web series on Disney+, “Ms. Marvel” — based on the first Muslim superhero to headline her own comic — featured the Pakistani-American teen Kamala Khan, who finds herself imbued with superpowers emanating from a bangle passed down by her grandmother in Pakistan. It was one of the first international series to star some of Pakistan’s most prominent actors, including Samina Ahmad, Fawad Khan, Mehwish Hayat and Nimra Bucha.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 28, 2022 at 8:25am

Pakistani Pop Culture Has Had a Global Year
From Cannes to the Grammys, the country’s arts shone on multiple occasions in 2022

By Surbhi Gupta

The series was well-received by critics and viewers alike for breaking from stereotypical screen portrayals of Pakistani women, while at the same time getting the religious and cultural nuances of a Pakistani household right. The show also referenced a subject sensitive for many South Asians: the Partition in 1947 that resulted in the formation of India and Pakistan as two independent countries. Considered one of the greatest migrations in human history, nearly 15 million people were displaced and 1 million were killed in the riots that followed.

In November, Humayun Saeed, a leading actor in Pakistan, featured in the fifth season of “The Crown,” Peter Morgan’s celebrated Netflix series on the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Saeed played the role of Dr. Hasnat Khan, the British-Pakistani surgeon who dated Princess Diana for about two years. Elsewhere, the actor Ahad Raza Mir was seen in “Resident Evil,” an American action horror series, also on Netflix.

The British film “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” written by the screenwriter Jemima Khan, who lived in Pakistan for many years during her marriage to former Prime Minister Imran Khan, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. A cross-cultural rom-com set in both London and Lahore, it was directed by the veteran Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapur. From Pakistan, it features the leading actor Sajal Aly in its star cast. The team was recently in Jeddah for the Red Sea Film Festival.

“All the outings are significant for Pakistani actors, as the country does not have a local streaming platform, and none of the major platforms, such as Netflix or Amazon, have commissioned any original series in the country,” said Anwar. “There is Zee5, an Indian platform that is bankrolling original web series in Pakistan, but, unfortunately, they are not available for viewing here.” The bread and butter for Pakistani actors to date has been local television dramas, which are often exported around the world and dubbed in multiple languages.

The Punjabi film “The Legend of Maula Jatt,” which took almost a decade to produce, was released this October. Some of the best actors in Pakistan came together for the film, including Fawad Khan, Hamza Ali Abbasi, Mahira Khan, Humaima Malik and Mirza Gohar Rasheed. A remake of a 1979 cult classic, it follows the local folk hero Maula Jatt as he takes on Noori Natt, his archnemesis and the leader of a brutal clan. Apart from rave reviews, in which one critic described it as “‘Game of Thrones’ meets ‘Gladiator,’” the film broke all records at the box office and became the highest-grossing Pakistani film of all time. The most expensive Pakistani film to be made, it drew sold-out screenings in several countries, including the U.S., the U.K. and France, and collected about 2.3 billion Pakistani rupees or 230 crores ($10 million) worldwide.

Perhaps, after two decades, Pakistani pop culture has now come of age. In 2002, when electronic media was liberalized in Pakistan, ironically under the dictatorial rule of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, it paved the way for the entry of private players. A number of TV channels sprung up, such as Geo TV, ARY and Hum TV. It served as a breeding ground for local talent and revived the entertainment industry, which had taken a hit due to the Islamization drive by Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s.

This was further fueled by social media and streaming platforms, such as YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and Spotify, which democratized content creation. Moreover, careers in the field have also become more acceptable in the past 10 to 15 years. Before then, it was looked down upon in Pakistan. As the leading screenwriter Vasay Chaudhry said in a recent panel discussion in Lahore, people either didn’t want to enter the industry or their families didn’t allow them to.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 28, 2022 at 8:26am

Pakistani Pop Culture Has Had a Global Year
From Cannes to the Grammys, the country’s arts shone on multiple occasions in 2022

By Surbhi Gupta

In addition to music and cinema, it has also been a good year for Pakistani art. Last month, the New York-based Pakistani artist Salman Toor’s most celebrated and powerful painting — his 2019 work “Four Friends” — sold for a record price at a Sotheby’s auction. Highlighting an intimate moment in the life of young brown queer men in New York, it was the key painting in Toor’s widely acclaimed solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2020-21. At this auction, it was expected to sell for a maximum of $400,000 but instead fetched $1.2 million. Toor, who hails from Lahore, has become one the most sought-after artists in the contemporary scene. “Demand from collectors remains very high for Toor,” wrote Lucius Elliott, Sotheby’s head of The Now Evening Auction in New York, ahead of the event. “As Toor continues to gain institutional recognition, as well as interest from the general public, I think there will continue to be increased interest from collectors.”

All in all, Pakistani pop culture, which has always enjoyed popularity locally, in South Asia and its diaspora, has had a remarkable year. It can pride itself on having cut across languages, borders and cultures and left a global mark.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 28, 2022 at 8:33am

I'm afraid many have unwittingly bought into Islamophobic stereotypes of Pakistan and Pakistanis that are promoted by the Hindutva brigade now ruling India, and its compliant Godi media.

The fact is that, in spite of Modi's best efforts, Pakistani culture still finds a lot of admirers in India.

Although Indian government has banned airing of Pakistani content on Indian TV channels, Pakistani food, fashion, music and entertainment are still popular in India. Examples include Shan masala, dresses by fashion designers like Sana Safinaz, Coke Studio, HUM TV dramas, films like Maula Jatt etc etc.

A lot of Pakistani music and entertainment are available in India and elsewhere via steaming platforms like Spotify and Netflix which younger audiences enjoy.

Pakistani products like Shan masala and women's dresses can be purchased online via Amazon and other e-commerce sites.

Please check out the following:

"Why Pakistan's Shan masalas have a cult following in India"
The Pakistani packaged masala brand has many fans in India, despite a somewhat erratic supply chain. What makes it so popular?

"The Pop Song That’s Uniting India and Pakistan"

"10 landmark Pakistani shows that were hugely popular in India"

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 29, 2022 at 5:11pm

Why was Pakistani pop culture so big in 2022?
December 28, 20223:59 PM ET
Heard on All Things Considered

2022 saw a rise of Pakistani pop culture worldwide, punctuated by a Grammy win, Ms. Marvel and an ovation at Cannes.

SHAPIRO: The first Muslim superhero to have her own comic.

SURBHI GUPTA: Showing a Pakistani American teen in a Pakistani household, that felt amazing.


Journalist Surbhi Gupta wrote about this banner year for Pakistani pop culture in New Lines Magazine.

GUPTA: We in South Asia know of this, but there were too many global moments, you know. And I was like, OK, this needs to be out there.

MCCAMMON: Gupta was born and raised in India. She writes that this is far from the first time Pakistani culture has made a global splash.

GUPTA: So, like, in the '80s, you know, my parents would talk about the Hassan siblings. They were the rage with "Disco Deewane."


NAZIA HASSAN: (Singing) Disco, disco, disco deewane.

SHAPIRO: That 1981 album broke sales records in Pakistan and India, and it charted worldwide, including places like Russia and the West Indies.

MCCAMMON: This year, a Pakistani hit again drew global attention.


SETHI AND GILL: (Singing in non-English language).

MCCAMMON: The song "Pasoori" by Ali Sethi and Shae Gill climbed to the top of Spotify's global viral charts, and Google searches for it beat out tracks by the K-pop group BTS and the singer Harry Styles.

SHAPIRO: Then in April, the Brooklyn-based Pakistani singer and composer Arooj Aftab won a Grammy for best global music performance for her rendition of the traditional song "Mohabbat."


AFTAB: (Singing in non-English language).

It's important to define this moment, I think, for everyone and ourselves.

MCCAMMON: We spoke with her earlier this year before she won that award. And while Aftab was excited about being nominated in a global music category, being part of the best new artist category sent a bigger message about her place on the world stage.

AFTAB: The industry has put us in these other categories for such a long time because of the sort of racial climate of America for all this while. And so this moment where I'm in this best new artist category next to all these other artists is a monumental moment.

SHAPIRO: Pakistan had monumental moments in film this year, too, with the first Pakistani film ever officially selected for the Cannes Film Festival, a transgender love story called "Joyland."


SHAPIRO: Here's Gupta again.

GUPTA: It's about a family in Lahore, and it unpacks, like, different nuances of gender and patriarchy. And then, like, his relationship with this trans starlet, this was almost banned. But the international recognition that the film had had kind of forced the federal government to intervene and then pave the way for its release.

MCCAMMON: We asked her, what's spurring this renaissance? One theory - the world is ready.

GUPTA: I think it's been 20 years since 9/11. So there were a lot of stereotypes also associated to Pakistanis and Muslims, which I think now perhaps we are shedding.

MCCAMMON: Still, she says, Pakistani artists are doing it on their own terms, being authentically themselves.

GUPTA: American pop culture has such a strong influence globally to kind of define what local culture has become. But I think the beauty of Pakistani culture is that it is not pretending to be something it is not.

SHAPIRO: That's Surbhi Gupta. Her article, "Pakistani Pop Culture Has Had A Global Year," is in New Lines Magazine.


SETHI AND GILL: (Singing in non-English language).

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 30, 2022 at 2:29pm

#India release of much-awaited #Pakistani blockbuster postponed. The postponement of
Legend of Maula Jatt comes as #Hindu far-rights groups in India have threatened to oppose the release of the film that has so far grossed more than $10m at the box office.

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Friday, sources confirmed that despite getting approval from India’s central censor board, the film was not screened on December 30, as previously planned.

“The film received its approval from the censor board, but its release was stopped due to unknown reasons,” a member of the team behind the movie confirmed to Al Jazeera.

The sources said that the distributors are trying to seek a new release date.

Al Jazeera also sought comments from an official of Zee Studio, which has acquired the rights to the movie in India, but the request was declined citing the “sensitivity of the matter”.

INOX Leisure, an Indian multiplexes chain, had on December 26 said that the movie will be screened in the northern Indian state of Punjab as well as select theatres in the capital New Delhi, confirmed to the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency that they were informed by the distributors that the release of the film has been delayed.

“We have been informed by the distributors that the release of the film has been postponed. We were told this two to three days ago. No further date has been shared with us,” an official from multiplex chain INOX told PTI.

The Indian censorship board has so far made no official statement on the reasons behind the delay in the release of the movie, which could have been the first Pakistani film in 11 years to be released in India.

The Legend of Maula Jatt, directed by 38-year-old Bilal Lashari, was released worldwide in October this year, garnering global acclaim.

The film, the adaptation of the 1979 cult classic Maula Jatt, stars Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan, both of whom have previously worked in Bollywood – the Hindi-language film industry in India.

But sources told Al Jazeera that it is “highly unlikely” that any of the cast, including Fawad and Mahira, will travel to India even if the film does get the green light in the future.

Pakistani artists have been unofficially barred from performing in India, despite no formal ban, since 2016, when 19 Indian soldiers were killed in an attack on an army camp in Uri town in Indian-administered Kashmir.

India blames Pakistani for backing armed groups fighting for Kashmir’s independence or its merger with Pakistan – a charge Islamabad denies. Both India and Pakistan claim the Muslim-majority region in its entirety but govern only parts of it.

The ties between the nuclear-armed South Asian nations worsened in the wake of the deadly attack on Indian soldiers in 2019, with even sporting events put on hold between the two neighbours.

Islamabad halted diplomatic and trade ties with New Delhi after India’s Hindu nationalist government stripped the Kashmir region of its special status in 2019.

Pakistani cricketers are already kept put from the Indian Premier League (IPL) since 2009, the biggest domestic T20 cricket league in the world.

No Pakistani player has participated in the league, despite no formal ban, after the deadly Mumbai attacks in November 2008.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 3, 2023 at 8:27pm

Qawwali maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan featured on Rolling Stone’s list of 200 Best Singers of All Time

Lata Mangeshkar, Elton John, Bob Marley, Usher, Stevie Nicks, Taylor Swift, Bono, Michael Jackson and BTS’ Jungkook were also on the list.

Qawwali maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan has been featured on American magazine Rolling Stone’s list of the 200 Best Singers of All Time. He claimed the 91st spot on the list, which also features artists such as K-pop boy band BTS’ Jungkook, South Korean singer-songwriter IU, late Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar and Canadian singer The Weeknd.

The list was published on Sunday. “Watching archival performances of the late Pakistani vocal master Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan — an icon in the realm of Qawwali, a type of Sufi devotional song, whose family’s musical legacy stretched back hundreds of years — it’s easy to lose track of time, and to hear how his music easily reached global audiences in the eighties when he began performing abroad and recording for Peter Gabriel’s Real World label,” the magazine wrote for the ‘Dum Mast Mast’ singer.

It discussed Khan’s fans from within the global music industry, including Madonna, Eddie Vedder whom he worked with for Dead Man Walking soundtrack and Jeff Buckley, who called him his “Elvis”.

The top spot on the list was secured by late American singer-songwriter Aretha Franklin followed by Whitney Houston and Sam Cook. The Top 10 section also included artists Billie Holiday, Mariah Carey, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Beyoncé, Otis Redding and Al Green.

For Mangeshkar, whose music is widely listened to in Pakistan, the magazine wrote, “The crystalline, eternally girlish voice of ‘the Melody Queen’ is a cornerstone of Indian pop music, with a global influence spread via Bollywood films, whose golden era she defined. Lata was the empress of playback singers, the vocal magicians who perform songs for actors to lip-sync in lavish movie musicals, recording over 7,000 such songs, by some estimates.” She claimed the 84th spot on the list.

Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Bob Marley, Usher, Chuck Berry, Stevie Nicks, Taylor Swift, Bono, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, João Gilberto, Billie Eilish, Rosalia, Burna Boy among others were also on the list.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 3, 2023 at 8:29pm

‘Aik Hai Nigar’ wins Best Asian Film at Septimius Awards

2022 is the year for Pakistani entertainment industry and international feats. The biopic honouring the life and works of Major General Nigar Johar, the first female officer to be promoted to the rank of lieutenant general, won big at Amsterdam! Aik Hai Nigar, a telefilm starring Mahira Khan in the lead, has won in the category of Best Asian Film at the prestigious Septimius Awards.

Along with shedding light on Lt General Nigar’s professional achievements, Aik Hai Nigar also highlighted her personal life, a huge part of which is her husband, Johar Ali Khan, played by actor Bilal Ashraf. The film paved the way for more women climbing their ways to leadership positions in the military and otherwise.

Every year, the international film festival showcases the best independent films from around the world. It holds strong emphasis on discovering and encouraging new talent, and has a wide range of attendees which include Oscar, Emmy and Grammy winners. The category for Best Asian Film included eight films in total.

Apart from the Nina Kashif production, the nominees included Farha, a film about a 14-year-old girl in 1948 Palestine watching catastrophe consume her house from a locked cellar; 218: Behind the Wall of Silence, an Emirati film on three women sharing an apartment 218 and their tales of domestic violence, nostalgia for a lost past and the pursuit of revenge; Sermon on the Mount, a documentary on black experiences and Paka (River of Blood), an Indian malayalam drama based on a river that swells with the blood of two feuding families and a young couple that tries to overcome this hatred with their love.

The festival also featured Gensan Punch, based on a true story of a Japanese athlete, Major, a biopic on Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s fight and death during the 2008 attacks at the Taj Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India, and Careless Crime, a film on four boys burning a theatre down in protest in Iran.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 7, 2023 at 8:13am

#Pakistan’s Trailblazing Cannes Winner & International #Oscar Hopeful ‘Joyland’ Gets #US Distribution Deal. Oscilloscope is planning a traditional theatrical release for the film later this year. #Joyland #Transgender #LGBTQIA via @Deadline

After becoming the first Pakistani movie to debut at Cannes, where it was awarded the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard category, and the Queer Palm, the film made more history by becoming Pakistan’s first film to make the Academy longlist for Best International Feature.

Written and directed by Saim Sadiq, and executive-produced by Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, Ramin Bahrani and Jemima Khan, the film charts the story of the youngest son in a traditional Pakistani family who takes a job as a backup dancer in a Bollywood-style burlesque. He quickly becomes infatuated with the strong-willed trans woman who runs the show. Starring are Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq and Alina Khan.

Oscilloscope is planning a traditional theatrical release for the film later this year. WME Independent handled domestic rights and brokered the deal on behalf of the filmmakers. Film Constellation handles international sales.

The movie, which also garnered an Indie Spirit nomination, played at Toronto, Busan, London and AFI, and is set to screen at this month’s Sundance festival.

Pic is produced by Apoorva Guru Charan, Sarmad Sultan Khoosat, Sabiha Sumar, Lauren Mann, Kathryn M. Moseley, Oliver Ridge, April Shih, and Katharina Otto-Bernstein. Execs also include William Olsson, Jen Goyne Blake, Tiffany Boyle, Elsa Ramo, Oleg Dubson, Kathrin Lohmann, Hari Charana Prasad, Sukanya Puvvula, and Owais Ahmed.

Filmmaker Sadiq said: “I am incredibly excited about welcoming Oscilloscope to our ever growing Joyland family and genuinely humbled by the fact that this dream that I nurtured for years is finally going to reach the audience in the U.S. My team and I have been so overwhelmed with the unending outpour of love from theatrical audiences in France and Pakistan and festival audiences worldwide that have discovered the film. So I’m very hopeful that Haider, Biba, and Mumtaz will find many friends in the States as well.”

O-Scope’s Dan Berger added: “Joyland is a daring and affecting work. In spite of all obstacles, Saim and team have created a powerful piece of art that will resonate far into the future. It is inclusive and it messages necessary things, but it is not tidy, not easy, and not obvious. It is cinema at its finest, working on numerous levels to leave people shaken and moved by the time the end credits roll.”


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    Biden's Gaza Ceasefire Veto Defies American Public Opinion

    Aaron Bushnell, an active serviceman in the United States Air Force, burned himself to death in front of the Israeli Embassy in protest against the US policy in Gaza. Before setting himself on fire in what he called an "extreme act of protest", he said he would "no longer be complicit in genocide". Polls show that the vast majority (63%) of Americans want an immediate end to the carnage being perpetrated by Israel in Gaza.  …


    Posted by Riaz Haq on February 27, 2024 at 5:30pm

    Pakistan Elections: Imran Khan's Supporters Skillfully Used Tech to Defy Powerful Military

    Independent candidates backed by the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) party emerged as the largest single block with 93 seats in the nation's parliament in the general elections held on February 8, 2024.  This feat was accomplished in spite of huge obstacles thrown in front of the PTI's top leader Imran Khan and his party leaders and supporters by Pakistan's powerful military…


    Posted by Riaz Haq on February 16, 2024 at 9:22pm — 1 Comment

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