Verna – a suspense thriller by Shoaib Mansoor

It is a brilliant effort.

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Ever since I saw this movie, a few hours ago I’ve been struck by the sheer brilliance of it. Yes, I’m bowled over. Though, I shouldn’t be  surprised. It is a Shoaib Mansoor film after all. What else did I expect?

The kind of articles I had read about this movie, made me wonder that perhaps it was below his usual standards. But when I saw it, I knew he is not only his usual but even better.

Now, after seeing the film I’m wondering how one can criticize such a work of art. The cinematography, direction, acting, sets, locations, are really good. I just wish there was A. R. Rehman’s music to it. But I suppose we can’t have it all, can we? Without A. R. Rehman,  the music was as good as it could be. Haroon Shahid the guitar-playing hero with the singing, makes his debut with Mahira Khan. That too, in a Shoaib Mansoor film. (I mean how lucky can you get? ) Of course he has done full justice to his role too, – playing the weak husband to perfection. Making that believable too, considering how spineless many men in our society can be.

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There wasn’t a single moment when I felt it was a drag or in any way farfetched. I loved the movie. The protagonist Sara played by Mahira Khan exhibited a brilliant piece of acting throughout. Agreed, it is a rather difficult and different role for her, which would have stretched anyone’s acting skills to the limits. She did a great job of it. She even did justice to something that the script demanded which was unthinkable for any human being. But the failure of the ‘system’ made her go to these lengths. That is the point which is being missed by the critics.

Having been through several traumatic experiences, during last few years, I knew first hand how you can be completely devoid of fear because  the worst has already happened. You know, you are on your own. Now, its your call, or live by the stalemate all your life.

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What people found hard was her unflinching will to avenge herself, knowing no one else would. She knew no one would or could help her. Not this spineless husband of hers, nor the more useless government officials, police, or the judicial system. Thankfully, she managed to convince her husband and sister-in-law to help in the end. Her relentless spirit and how she would fight back even when she was so badly hit every time. I particularly liked the way the character of the husband was handled. How his love overcame  his handicaps. The role of the female lawyer was executed well. This certainly was fiction. Real lawyers are not like that at all. But the character was needed to explain the legal aspects of this ‘judicial system’.

The dirty tricks played by the corrupt governor, officials and their advisers were all too familiar for me. The manner in which people want you to ‘take’ injustice was also typical. Being spineless themselves, they want you to be the same too. Yes, ‘the deepest part of hell will be reserved for the people who in times of crisis maintain their neutrality.’ – A very favorite quote of my husbands’ was seen here too.

The judge played by Shahid Mir acted well. With a personal experience of judges and courts for over four and half years, I can tell you, I wish there were actually judges like him around, who did take at least some personal interest in a case. Believe me. Even that doesn’t happen. The ones who do, get killed, as was in the case I witnessed.

The acting was deep, sensitive and had the full depth of feelings shown.

The locations in and around Islamabad;  Bahria Town and DHA were shown with great skill beautifully revealing this areas’  true beauty. The team of Shahbaz Shigri – 1st assistant director, art director Faiza Shah and editor Zohaib Mansoor, made each scene a work of art using the colors and angles of the lense in interesting ways.  The quality of equipment used  revealing the technical skills of the cinematographer. The editing was good too.

The subtle and powerful dialogues used in sorting out the mulla mentality – which is typical – was well handled. The popular attitude of always blaming the women for the man’s evil act and making her pay for something they have done, was highlighted well.

It was extremely heartening to see a writer take pains to show the pains of a woman in a country like Pakistan.  Here, even women do not sympathize with a woman put in trouble by a man for his fault! On top of it, to try to victimize the woman for his own evil acts, trying to make out that what he did was her fault! The women’s response by saying things like ‘Allah pay chor do.’ (‘Leave it to God.’) Meaning:  ‘no one is going to do anything for you.’

Why don’t they say, ‘Allah pay bharosa karo. Tum such ki taraf ho aur mein bhi tumharay saath hoon.’ (Have faith in God, you are truthful, and I am with you too.) – This you will seldom hear from them!

The girl was brave and fearless, and I can see why such people are hard to swallow by many men and women in our society. It makes them feel uncomfortable. They are only used to the easily beatable, scared, crying and whimpering female. That’s how they like her. Then they can say, ‘dekha bechari, kin logon say panga liya tha! Yeh to hona tha!’ (See? Poor thing, this was bound to happen when she took on such people.) That’s how they want to see her.

Things will change, and are changing already. There is going to be a stronger world built by braver women of Pakistan now. Men like Shoaib Mansoor and many others like him are there in this world, to stand by brave girls who stand up against cruelty and insanity of others.

But first she has to stand up against the odds, only then can she change the odds.

The dialogues written by Shoaib are appropriate and powerful. In this film he has touched upon important subjects like rape, polio drops, mulla-ism, cultural backing of women-bashing, corrupt politicians and voting power. He has held his ground due to his integrity, skill and passion for excellence.

The movie is a hit, you can say what you like, the cinema house was jam-packed. Even my daughter and I reached half-an-hour earlier, and we weren’t the only ones! This being the first time, since we mostly end up arriving late for the movies. This was one movie – we didn’t want to miss out on the beginning.

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The subject was dealt without any abusive language – as is the norm in most English and Indian movies.  The grace with which such sensitive subjects were handled deserves all the praise.

Ladies and gentlemen – whether you all join me or not, I’m  congratulating Shoaib Mansoor for having made his hat trick!

Stay blessed my dear Reader. There is great hope for our country where such a movie can finally pass through the eyes of the Government censor board, and where the viewers can say what they like but are thronging to the cinemas to watch the movie. After all, it isn’t every day we get to see such a suspense thriller.

Note: All photographs and video taken from Google search images with thanks.

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Book launch and Painting’s Exhibition.

My dream come true!

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So, finally when my book launch took place I realized it happened exactly the way I wanted it. A big ‘thank You’ to my Allah Mian  – who knew, and miraculously got it done.

I mean, to have a book launch is tough enough. Then a Solo Painting’s Exhibition is also difficult. Then to have both together is even tougher.  No wonder, every organization I asked, would just find reasons to push me out of their domain. (They did this by asking me for a huge amount.) So naturally, I was very upset.

It was a lunch meeting with my friend Aisha, at Juicy Gossip just over a week ago, when I realized nothing was working.  The phone rang: Aania asked me, ‘how are things going?’

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‘I’m done with all this.’ I told her feeling extremely upset and hurt. ‘ I’ll just have a virtual book launch.’ She is member of our Generation Rahi art group and is the one who arranges our annual group painting exhibitions, and other events. She is a good friend and a great artist too. Continue reading “Book launch and Painting’s Exhibition.”

Regional Exhibition at National Art Gallery, Islamabad.

“Takht Bhai to Potohar”

(Exhibition opened on 22nd August, it will continue till 10th of September 2017)

My association with the National Art Gallery is a long one – long before this building was constructed in 2007. Previously, it was located in houses in F-7. 1n 1981 when my first solo paintings exhibition was held in it, National Art Gallery was a rented building in F-7/2, then another one was located in F-7/1 in house of Faiz Ahmed Faiz. There were many memorable ‘Evening with Artist’ spent at the gallery. located in heart of the city, it was the hub of activity and interactive sessions with maestros like Ashfaque Ahmed, Raja Changez, Anwar Maqsood, Uzma Gillani just to name a very few. Finally when the beautiful imposing building is ready, there is ample space for art works to be displayed in this spacious building which has many floors accommodating all types of arts including music, paintings, dance and an imposing auditorium for indoor performances, as well as an outdoor theater for performances outside.

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Continue reading “Regional Exhibition at National Art Gallery, Islamabad.”

Categories Art

My visit to Tacoma Art Museum near Seattle, WA, USA.

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Checking out online before choosing which gallery to visit is a good way to know how to find what suits you. I watched the video of the Tacoma Art Museum and loved it. Tacoma is 45 miles from Seattle, the city is a harbor and very scenic. Most museums are located near each other, quite close to the entrance of the city. TAM suited my requirement to see paintings of Native Americans  as well as to see contemporary art of America. It also boasted having the famous Seattle glass pieces as well as some sculptures. The best part was that it had no nudes as we know them. Though I love European art, however the profusion of female nudes in it, is not something that I’d like to see. I believe it is not respectful to a woman or girl.  So, this museum was the best: its size was just right, so it wasn’t tiring at all.  The displays had a bit of everything. Most importantly, the staff was very helpful and welcoming.  It was decent in every way. In fact I loved my trip there. So, I’ll just leave you to pictures I took.

Continue reading “My visit to Tacoma Art Museum near Seattle, WA, USA.”

Categories Art

Jimmy Engineer – a dynamic artist and social worker.

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Last week Jimmy called me, “I’m here for a week, so I’d like to meet you and see what is going on in Islamabad.” It was great to hear his voice after 1982.  Last time we met in Lahore, when my exhibition of paintings was opening next day in Shakir Ali Museum. He wanted to come to see if the work was being displayed properly, and approved how Mr. Bhatti had set it up. He particularly liked a landscape which he asked me to keep and sell when I’m famous. – Naturally, that was the first painting to sell! – I didn’t want to bet on becoming a famous artist anyway.

Continue reading “Jimmy Engineer – a dynamic artist and social worker.”

Categories Art

Master Painter

Just read these verses by Rumi…. .

I think reading Rumi’s verses can actually make one a bit dizzy. They really tend to hit home. As life goes on, you realize that there are times where you just have to surrender and trust Him. Many times we do not understand what is happening to us. It only hits home much later.  Then, we get to understand what life at that time, was actually all about!

Funny! How brilliant we think we are, with all that education and all those degrees, and accomplishments. – All that is just a tiny dot in the larger canvas of life.

I’m very much into Time Management and Self-Management. Love to try out all that I study in the books that  I read. Then I sit and plan everything out. Suddenly there is a silent ‘bang’ and I find myself on another road, walking towards another destination. It means another ‘reality check’ with my new direction in life.

I wonder, what I’m doing here. Then I realize there must be a ‘Master Painter’ who is behind all this. Then I’m content. I know He knows best.

He has always known best.

Like the time I wanted to go to NCA .. National College of Arts, in Lahore, Pakistan. I wanted to become an artist and study art. But then my parents felt I was too young to handle the co-ed college with that bad reputation. They put me in College of Home Economics, Lahore, Pakistan, instead. They promised that after graduation (when I’m older and more mature, they’ll put me in NCA.) That never materialized. A  big scandal took place there, and that was the end of that. So I ended up doing MSc in Related Arts, from College of Home Economics instead.

As it turned out, I still became an artist. I also learnt how to manage my home and family in such a way that I could pursue my interests without letting my family get affected due to it.

It worked out fine.

Somewhere along the line, while exhibiting, and getting posted to different places, and having three lovely girls, I became a writer too.

So, what I’m trying to say is. One must try to do one’s best, in every situation. But after that – leave it all to the Master Painter. Let Him make the final moves. When He makes a move, just go along with it, knowing He really does know best.

Call it Karma, call it Destiny, call it Stars, call it an act of God, – whatever you like. But whatever happens, happens for a reason. Sometimes, you tend to feel your life has let you down. People have let you down, and what not.

Wait.  Breathe deeply.   Watch …..

Find the solace,  that has been planned all along. Find the peace within. Find that elation, which comes from surrender to the Master Painter. Get totally enveloped by it all…..

Stay Blessed, my dear reader. 🙂

Categories Art

Art classes by Hajra and Mansoor Rahi

 

 

 

 

These days, I’m making another one of my dreams come true. Attending art classes by the world famous artists of Pakistan: Mansoor Rahi and Hajra Mansoor. Their art classes are like getting a ‘two in one’ deal! The moment I enter the class I feel quite happy to have made the effort to get out of the  endless ‘business’ of today’s world. To enter this world of fun and development of one’s skills, its truly a great privilege.

Naturally, one ends up next to other class mates closer to one’s own age and skill groups. However, a quick walk around the room is a refreshing experience. Watching the work of young and upcoming artists feels great too. Some of them are awesome. – Students of all levels and ages are welcome here.

Mansoor Rahi, who recently celebrated his seventy eighth birthday, is a national icon in the field of art in Pakistan. His programs on painting on PTV morning shows in 1994 and beyond are still remembered by many. His speech which is a mixture of English and Urdu in his Bengali accent is charming. As one enters the class room, you see him fully engrossed in observing the work of some student. As you wish him,  he will give you a welcoming look, and a remark full of humor.

When I first went to him in 2004, he said “You can come any time you feel.” He knew I had already exhibited my work in many solo exhibitions and so on. However, I realized that without a commitment, you never get down to anything. So, I insisted that I’d like to be his and Hajra Mansoor’s student. Then circumstances took me away, till I returned to Islamabad again in 2011. Then, again I had to drop my classes.

So, being in the classes on and off, I’ve realized its best to remain ‘on’. There is a tempo and an environment of these classes which really invigorates me. As works build up exhibitions of student’s work are held in prominent art galleries of Islamabad.

Sitting there, surrounded with the serene and dreamy paintings of Hajra Mansoor, one goes on painting. Looking up at the paintings really inspires one.

What I like best about these two icons, is that they are so cool and pleasant. They do their teaching, and telling one the basics or whatever is needed. They do not get upset, when they see us doing exactly the opposite thing! Many of the students just go their own way. That too, is fine by the two experienced artists. They never try to impose their ideas on anyone. In fact, they help you get where you want to go. – Even if it is something totally different. Everyone is noticing the improvement in my work recently. I wonder why?

That is the beauty of art. It is free. It is multi-dimensional. You can literally go anywhere you want to go. Here in the classes you are blessed with the best guides to take you where you want to go!

 

Categories Art

Ideas on art and its value.

An article written in 1996 printed in Dawn’s Sunday Magazine, now I’m sharing it with you after updating it. 

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Only a few years ago, if someone had said I was going to be a writer, I’d say ‘Me, a writer? Never! I am only an artist. And an artist cannot write – she paints!’  But here I am writing!  Who could be better equipped to write about my work, my art and value of art – than myself?

I have held ten solo exhibitions, taken part in many group exhibitions. I have written over seven hundred articles. I have painted in many styles and mediums but oils and acrylics are my favorite.

Everyone is talking about ‘developing a style’.  I believe that one should paint what one feels.  . I accept assignments which are close to my heart.  I am at home with abstract art as well as with impressionism, expressionism and realism.  I like my subject to suggest the best medium for it. – Rather than to impose myself on my subject.

Artists donate work: I believe, that artists must donate works to organizations for health, education and libraries.  These institutions deserve works of art, because they help humanity! I’ve donated several paintings to libraries, hospitals and schools.

Finding time to paint: As a mother of three children, with a job and a home to take care of, I still found time to work.  It is all possible, because my art is important to me. I keep my stock of paints and canvases handy all the time.

Sometimes, at the end of the day, when I am going to my ‘studio’, I am already exhausted from my day’s commitments but it is just my body that is tired, my mind is eager to express itself. Ever since I started writing, my paintings have become more serene.

When we go for a picnic, my water colors or acrylics are with me. I settle down and do the complete work on location.  When I paint an abstract, it is not done  consciously. It just happens. Sometimes at 2.00 am.  But it has to happen. Sometimes when I am feeling serene my painting looks serene.  When I am angry, my painting is angry too!  After all, my art and I are one. My feelings, my observations, my thoughts, my arguments – all are there. Sometimes I do not paint for months.  Sometimes I do two paintings in one day  (once I did six paintings in two days!).  I have never worked as a routine. It just comes in patches.  Sometimes I am buried within a project for days, sometimes, I do not work for weeks.

Value of paintings: There is a great deal of talk on ‘value’. This is why gold is ‘valued’ so much. It is the same with paintings. A painting of mine which did not sell at Rs. 5000/- many years ago, got sold at four times the price only few years later. Paintings are collected and kept for generations as items of value.  People pride themselves for their collection of paintings by famous artists.  The value of a painting includes the quality of work and material used, it’s current market value and specially the name and fame of the artist.

Most important of all: The moment a well-known artist passes away, a full stop is placed on his or her work. The present work immediately gains in value. Much as we love the great artists. It is silly to copy them, except to learn from them. There is no place in this world for two Leonardos or Michelangelos, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gulgee or Sadeqain.   No one can afford the paintings of these famous artists today. These are too expensive. But people would have been able to, when these artists were alive!

Smart people invest in arts: So the smart folks invest in art works and just wait till the value keeps increasing with time.  Just like investing in antiques, and hand- made carpets.  You can easily afford to buy genuine works of art today at the price of a mobile phone, laptop, dish antennae, or a dress, or even a pair of shoes . However, where will the value of these items be in a couple of years’ time? You immediately lose a couple of thousands upon purchase, – it’s a used item now!  In fact it will most probably become half it’s cost within a few months. But the same money spent on a painting will continue to increase. At the same time, it gives emotional and mental peace and pleasure for years to come without losing it’s value. The most you need to do is to change it’s frame (if at all!).

How each person who enters your home reacts to it (or doesn’t!) means something to you. The comments, the attention, the thoughts, the sparkle that it creates in people’s eyes, the conversations it triggers. And most of all the appreciation, of your own good taste ! As Hajra Mansoor says, I realize the taste of people I visit by the collection of their paintings.

Abstract paintings:                   There is a lot of controversy about abstract paintings.  It is an artistic language which uses lines, colors and strokes to create a certain affect. The artist may have tried to depict something from his own experience. But you can only react to it according to your own experiences. You might find something in a painting that brings out another memory or feeling in you. That is fine. Two people look at the sun. One notices the color and beauty, the other sees the glare and heat, a third person thinks of skin cancer, another thinks “Goody, let me get some free vitamin D!”. So the item remains the same, the reactions differ.   All reactions are correct from that persons’ point of view. It is the same with paintings.

No two people feel the same way about paintings. The fact is, they don’t have to. Each person has a different understanding of it.

While one is painting…  Suddenly, something strikes the right code, and it starts working out.  Each painting is like life itself. You have an idea, and then you start working on it. The process of painting is something you have been gifted with, and yet you need to develop your skills and expertise. I believe, that the talent of painting or any creative quality is a responsibility. It needs to be worked on, improved, studied, brushed up (literally!) and then when it comes out ‘right’ the feeling is awesome!

 

 

 

Categories Art

The Need to become a recluse.

 

It is hard to pursue your interests while being in the middle of a city. – Especially in our caring culture like ours. Where others interfere with your time schedule, sometimes you, yourself interfere with your own time schedule. You can become a victim of your own goodness. Between the deaths and the marriages and the illnesses…. there is a barrage of good will which takes a toll on your work. But then, its great when you are the recipient. So then, you do it even more because you know what it means. I know how much our friends did for us during my husbands’ illness and subsequent death. Finally, after almost four years, now I can use this word (death). Still, it hurts. You see, the death of your spouse in not just a death. It’s the taking away of the roof over your head and the ground under your feet. The relocation is horrific. Its emotional, physical, financial, legal and psychological aspects are hard to deal with too. Now, that I’m getting back to my own work again, I’m realizing why through time, always anyone who achieved anything became a recluse for some time in his or her life.

This is why Holy prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to go out of the city of Makkah to meditate in the cave of Hira. He didn’t have the distractions we have. Still he would go. We all need this space between others and ourselves to be able to study ourselves, meditate and try to fathom out and understand things. It is vital for our own personal growth and development.

You will find artists who keep themselves aloof, are real successful. They are the ones defying fashions and lifestyles because this is the only way to achieve one’s personal goals (paintings!)

I remember, everyone making fun of my cousin Shahbaz Khan for having long hair when all others kept theirs short in the seventies. Once, long ago when he was in his first year in NCA,  we had gone to his hostel to see his latest painting. It was a scene with over fifty to seventy figures in it, showing the typical village scene of races of cows. My grandmother was in the car waiting for us. While my father, aunt Mubarak (artist’ mother) and I went to his room upstairs.  When we were being seen off by the artist, my grandmother said to him “Puttar, kadi naha wi laya kar!” (Son, please bathe sometimes also!) She was looking at his disheveled demeanor. So, there you have it. All of us had been telling her of how amazing the painting was, but all she could see was the artist. She was genuinely worried about his well-being. He went on to greater heights as an artist.

Shahbaz Khan has built a house outside the city of Lahore. Didn’t get married, and lives on his own terms. (He is the only one to have refused being interviewed by me for Dawn!) He feels that all this is unnecessary. Sometimes he won’t even sign on a painting. At a time when one of the usual paintings sold for Rs.500/- his sold for Rs.50,000/-, a few years later, when others paintings sold for Rs.50,000/- his sold for Rs.700,000/- ! Shahbaz Khan has painted one of the longest paintings in Pakistan which is over 100 feet long, and it’s about the ”Evolution of Man”. It can be seen in the NDU or the National Defense University in Islamabad. Another 37 feet long painting of his was for the roof of a dining room in Lahore. The house belongs to a business tycoon, the head of the largest dailies and news channel (The News and Jang Group, and Geo tv).

Allama Iqbal wished for a cottage in the wilderness surrounded by natural beauty in his poem ‘Aik Arzoo’ (A Wish). That is how you can come up with your own work. – by cutting off for some time from others, till your work is done.

Danielle Steel the famous writer, locks herself up in a cubicle which is 6 x 6 feet till her novel is complete. . I also know that most Hollywood writers have their own retreats to do their work in.

So, these are the tricks others do.

So, when we were planning our home, my husband encouraged me to plan out a studio in the basement (which I made sure has plenty of natural light. So, finally my studio is all set and my work has begun. The sad part is that he is no longer there to see it completed and functioning. Most of my life, when my kids were school going, I’d make them sleep at 9.00 pm, then go off to my ‘office’ which would be in the dining room, and write or paint till 12.00 or 1.00 am while my husband worked on his files in his office in our bedroom. That’s how I was the ‘artist’ and ‘writer’, and next morning went off to school with the kids, turning into the ‘educationist’.

Usually, I worked on two facets on a full time basis, and the third one sporadically. Making sure  to give time to my family whenever they needed. Somehow it worked out.

Today is the opening of an exhibition at AQS gallery with Generation Rahi. – Another of my dreams coming true, to have  my work exhibited alongside with my mentor. He is my guide, my mentor and my teacher. There will be thirteen professional artists latest work  shown today, which have never been exhibited before. The Bangladeshi ambassador shall perform the opening. This exhibition shall be opened be at 5.30 this evening. It is 12.00 pm now. Hajra Mansoor is wife of Mansoor Rahi, who is also my mentor and guide. The couple work together with everything. I shall be meeting them along with the rest of our art group.

 

 

Categories Art