Sunday’s ARY Film Awards will go down in history – not as a milestone where the industry’s major players turned out in their finest for a night dedicated solely to celebrating the best of Pakistani cinema, but as the night when two A-listers host, Shaan and AFA honoree, Ali Zafar had, for lack of (wanting to use) a less sensational term, a ‘catfight’ on stage.
While the grapevine and gossip mongers were having a field day with who-said-what, there were many who were left shaking their heads in resignation, for they recognised the sentiments simmering beneath the surface for what they fundamentally were – an encapsulation of everything that caused cinema in Pakistan to stagger and stagnate over the last 15 years.
For those that weren’t in attendance at the ceremony, and were spared melting in the sweltering heat of the outdoor event, Shaan used his opening monologue to address patriotism, and the lack thereof, in the Pakistani industry. Specifically calling out artists who accept work from across the Indian border, he labeled all those who choose to work outside Pakistan as unpatriotic ‘sell-outs.’
Shaan’s comment was seen as a thinly veiled dig at Ali Zafar, who was set to receive the International Icon Award of Pakistan later that night. Undoubtedly, our biggest export, as far as the entertainment industry in concerned, Ali chose to address the statement in his acceptance speech.
Calling it a disrespectful comment to make, he pointed out that artists the likes of Ghulam Ali, Zeba Bakhtiar, Nusrat and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Atif Aslam are a few of the illustrious names that have worked in the Indian industry. The exchange has divided public sentiment, but it doesn’t come down to simple matters of bitterness, diplomacy or self-promotion. Shaan was right about one thing – it is a question of patriotism. He’s just looking up the wrong definition of the word.
There is nothing patriotic about restricting the immense talent that Pakistan has to a geographical location. Denying the world the chance to utilise, shape and celebrate Pakistani talent under a misplaced notion of patriotism is extremely problematic.
No industry is an island, and cinema, is especially ill suited to subsist in a self-containing bubble. Our industry has repeatedly been victimised by those who have sought to further their interests under a guise of patriotism, whether it was seeking a ban on foreign content that was reportedly ‘destroying’ local cinema, or the present day variant of attempting to deter talent from working outside of the country.
It is easy to claim be patriotic within Pakistan. What is difficult, and therefore all the more important, is to show the rest of the world what Pakistanis are made of.
Patriotism is Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy on the Oscars red carpet, not in Dior or Chanel, but in a Bunto Kazmi suit with a golden statuette in her hand. Patriotism is committing to a performance so completely that an international jury has no choice but to give it the Best Actress Award at the New York City International Film Festival, like Aamina Sheikh did.How many syllables overcoming? When opportunity arises? Why engineering is so hard? How long recruiter respond? How many opportunity costs are in each decision? What classification is a fish? What developer to use for red hair? How activities are linked using intent? When your favorite coworker leaves? Where to watch engineering red? Who industrial noise? What examples of effective team dynamics? How many opportunity costs are in each decision? Which algorithm is non tractable? How career leading a happy life? Why why diagram example? How to improve maintenance? Why transfer pokemon in pokemon go? How much career gap is acceptable? 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