LLF & more - II

Sabahat Zakariya's roundup of the week's cultural zeitgeist

LLF & more - II


LLF itself was pretty tame compared to what I experienced a day after it ended. Over lunch at Aylanto I overheard a group of people on the next table post-morteming the event. One of them (I can safely venture to guess) was a festival organiser whose catty insights into writers and related machinery would have made for an entertaining LLF session.

What LLF has done more cleverly than the KLF is to change its caste of characters dramatically from last year's, giving greater incentive to repeat attendees. Though writers who fail to schmooze in the right circles are left out at both, it seems. This year Haroon Khalid particularly comes to mind whose 'A White Trail' justified him inclusion in at least one of the panels at the LLF.



The title 'Hasee tau Phasee' jarred upon my feminist sensibilities but I went to see it anyway because its male lead Sidharta Malhotra is so easy on my feminine sensibilities. The only actually handsome Indian hero since Arjun Rampal, Malhotra plays a likeable everyman alongside Parineeti Chopra, the heroine, who is meant to be a quirky nerd. But of course with Karan Johar involved in the production, all efforts at edginess are subsumed within a thoroughly filumy sensibility. Even then it is nice to see a dressed-down Indian heroine with some interest in a career. But the film's second half is so emotionally complex it becomes impossible for the audience to derive the release from the hero and heroine's coming together that a more black and white characterization would have provided. With one catchy number'--Punjabi wedding song' -- that I particularly enjoyed and two and a half hours of Sidharta Malhotra I'd definitely call it a fair time pass. Go watch it on a slow day.



One of my pet peeves is a lack of relatable children's literature in Urdu, something that captures the confusions and nuances of growing up in today's Pakistan. Glancing through a magazine rack at a bookshop in Liberty the other day I noticed that Taleem-o-Tarbiat is still selling the same old shtick to children. With a cover that screamed 'Kashmir banay ga Pakistan' I can only imagine the kind of one-sided propaganda inside. In this scenario writer Musharraf Ali Farooqui's publishing house Kitab could prove to be a much needed shot-in-the arm for intelligent and entertaining children's literature in Pakistan. At the moment it is focused more on young children and republishing children's classics of Urdu literature but I hope once it becomes a profitable venture it will also look into young adult fiction, a non-existent genre in Pakistani writing. The Urdu titles it has published include Sufi Tabassum's popular book of children's poetry 'Jhoolnay' and 'Toat Batoat ki dunya', Ghulam Abbas's book of children's poetry 'Chaand Taara', a translation of Persian fables by Tehseen Farooqui and Musharraf Ali Farooqui's own 'Moochandar ki Niraali Moonchayn'. The most ambitious aspect of Kitab books are their attractive illustrations and overall design, something regular Urdu publishers do not give a second thought to. However, Kitab needs to publish fresh writing that features everyday Paksitani children, their worries and concerns if it genuinely wants to make an impact on the market and give it something new. All power to it.

You can order books from Kitab at www.kitab.com.pk



Anger. That is the emotion most evident in Ali Gul Pir's latest song, 'Kholo BC', and the emotion most relevant to today's Pakistan, but it is an emotion you won't find within the sugary confines of Coke Studio or Pepsi Pakistan Idol. Thank goodness, then, for the internet. The swear word BC -- the soundtrack to everyday existence in Pakistan -- has been appropriated by Ali, Adil Omer and Talal Qureshi to create an anthem against the banning of YouTube in Pakistan. Some people have pointed out the irony of Ali Gul Pir singing against the ban that was put into place by the PPP, a party he has recently been seen promoting at the Sindh Festival but Ali maintains that his song is not about a particular party (though the video with a man in shalwar qameez and waistcoat suggests otherwise). Then there is the criticism over legitimizing the use of BC (which in the song is an abbreviation for ban chor). Personally not a fan of gendered swear words, I think in this particular case it is used cleverly and is an appropriate medium for expressing the anger that a lot of Pakistanis feel at the snatching way of even their small freedoms. Ali Gul Pir has redeemed himself after that 'Pakistan ka beta' fiasco.



If you are a Pinterest fan you will love the DIY app 'Snapguide'. In a beautifully done layout the app collects recipes, home improvement projects, beauty guides, Art and craft, even automotive maintenance tricks in a handy, easily navigable format. While 'how to' searches usually land you on YouTube, that isn't as mobile friendly as Snapguide's sharp step by step pictures. Also better for Pakistanis whose mobile platforms do not have instant access to YouTube.