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Life & Style

Changing power and perspectives: 15th KLF concludes on contemplative note

Published February 19, 2024
Sanam Saeed, Faryal Mehmood, Abid Aziz Merchant, Bee Gul and Saba Karim Khan at Karachi Literature Festival (KLF). Photo: Business Recorder
Sanam Saeed, Faryal Mehmood, Abid Aziz Merchant, Bee Gul and Saba Karim Khan at Karachi Literature Festival (KLF). Photo: Business Recorder

KARACHI: The final day of the 15th Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) ended on a contemplative note on Sunday with actor Sanam Saeed calling for a shift in “power and perspective” in Pakistan.

Speaking during a session titled ‘Film: The Power of Storytelling’, the actor urged for a more positive representation of women on television – the largest medium available to influence the masses.

“Shows such as ‘Durr-e-Shehwar’ encouraged women to finish their education, made them understand their rights – proving how television can convey solutions to certain issues society is positing today,” Saeed said.

“I’ve always tried to be a part of stories which carry a positive note,” she added, encouraging engaging audiences with powerful stories.

“No story lives unless someone wants to hear it,” she asserted, speaking to how cinematic brilliance has a strong impact on our collective psyche.

The conversation moved to censorship in Pakistan as screenwriter and director Bee Gul lamented at the pieces of art and cinema banned by the censor board, leaving audiences in the country bereft of stories.

“Globally and at festivals around the world, we see Pakistani talent and stories being appreciated which we do not even get to see it here,” she said.

Actor Faryal Mehmood chimed in with a few words of advice for the censor board.

“I would encourage our censor board to get exposed, educated, understand people and their rights – especially those of women – so that the industry can grow,” added Mehmood.

“In fact, issues such as mistreatment of women, should be considered shocking and should be examined through the filter of an Islamic lens, especially since Islam does not propagate any such values,” added Saeed.

“A shift in power and perspective is needed, so that audiences and creators can be in agreement.”

Responding to a question about why ‘The Legend of Maula Jatt’ – Pakistan’s most commercially successful film – did well, actor Mohib Mirza responded that it wasn’t necessarily a case of storytelling rather “intense and aggressive” marketing.

“Unless an algorithm has delivered the message onto your smartphone – the result of an entire year’s campaigning – a film cannot be commercially successful.”

Later, a panel comprising lawyer Mohammad Jibran Nasir and Asma Shirazi moderated by journalist Ghazi Salahuddin asserted how solutions to our myriad problems are indeed glaring us in our faces, and just need to be implemented adequately.

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Gaza

Addressing the current Israeli aggression in Gaza, British-Palestinian writer Selma Dabbagh offered fresh insight into how the Zionist movement has also evolved over time – from being “righteous” and “socialist” to something “gone awry”, leaving Palestinians fighting “a different kind of opponent.”

“That they can say the most racist, genocidal things, test every kind of drone on a young population and know that they can get away with it, is a real concern,” said Debagh.

These comments came on the heels of reports that the U.S will not support a U.N. resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and the Israeli government formally rejecting a unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.

Responding to “small wins” such as the recent boycott of brands such as Starbucks and McDonald’s, she added how some fantastic voices speaking for the Palestinian cause can help reshape the world order.

“These citizen reporters – such as Motaz Azaiza – on social media have been so powerful, and with such young audiences,” said Dabagh.

For perspective, Azaiza currently has nearly 19 million followers on Instagram –exceeding those of US President Joe Biden.

“Their heroism and dynamism is an example of what young people can do, so much so that their audiences trust them more than the mainstream media,” she added.

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La fin

Following soon after, a panel – Shehzad Ghias Shaikh, Mustafa Chaudhry, Murtaza Chaudhary and Amber Rahim Shamsi – moderated by author Nadeem Farooq Paracha provided plenty laughs and barbs exchanged, ending this year’s three-day festival.

The panel even managed to get into several heated exchanges with the audience, alluding to the highly charged political atmosphere at the festival this year – no doubt instigated by the current political stalemate.

People captivated by KLF extravaganza

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