March 5, 2016

So Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy has done it again! I couldn’t be prouder, I don’t know her, I haven’t seen her film yet (I hope to asap), but that is not stopping me from applauding her incredible achievement, in person and in print. Two Oscars in a space of 4 years, when Leo has had to wait 20 years for his and some film-makers work a lifetime to achieve just one.

First let’s give credit where it’s due, (no Syed Noor that doesn’t mean you!). The veteran Lollywood director’s outraged press conference to state that Sharmeen had copied his idea prompted more laughs than gasps. As for Moammar Rana, who reportedly said that Sharmeen should make a film on the victim of drone attacks, why don’t he and his buddies do just that? Sharmeen has the guts and determination to make hard-hitting documentaries on subjects that most people do not want to acknowledge at all. How many girls and women lose their lives to ‘honour’ killing a year in the country? No one knows for certain, because most incidents are buried with the nameless victims. That Sharmeen has given the victim a name and a face is her gift to women of the nation. That shows the power of cinema that can be harnessed for good or frittered away.

As many films, dramas and documentaries as can be made, should be made to highlight barbaric practices until they die out completely! As for the detractors, you want to make your own film about this or any other topic, go right ahead. There is enough scope for every kind of story and every genre. There is a joke going around these days that everyone knows someone who is working on a concept or film-script. Now that a revival of sorts if happening, there is room for documentaries like ‘A Girl in the River, animated films like ‘Teen Bahadur’ (hey Sharmeen again, she sure stays busy), romances like ‘Dobara Phir Se’ (Mehreen Jabbar’s much awaited second film), mass entertainers like Jiwani Phir Nahin Aani and anything else that Jami, Sarmad or any fledgling filmmaker still in college/high school wants to enthrall us with. If you want to see Pakistan Shining, turn it into an exemplary country first then make as many movies as possible about how great it is!

The main thing is to stop the negativity and get going yourself. No more talk please — let’s cut straight to lights, camera and action. Yes there will be reaction as well, some films will do well and some will fail, but at least our filmmakers will not atrophy. If we win any more Oscars, that would be amazing, but I think first we need to win back an audience that has been force fed on a diet of ‘Hollowood’ and ‘Bollywool’. Let’s take an original story and script it into great film and then get ready for all the accolades. Meanwhile instead of taking away from this incredible achievement, let’s celebrate a win! A win for Pakistan and a win for creativity!