Saturday, September 12, 2015

Manto - A Movie That Has Forever Changed The Face Of Pakistani Cinema !!


An Unforgettable Artistic Experience

For a film to be able to grip your interest and keep it intact for each and every second that it moves, is the greatest achievement, and Manto is one such film, which without any contemporary songs/dances or glamorous dresses, keeps you focused for the entire two hours. And not even that but you take it home with you; a head full of the dialogues of the film and its depth. I am still awestruck at its beauty, uniqueness and excellence.

The biopic on one of the greatest Urdu writers, Saadat Hassan Manto, takes you right at the starting credit. And you are sure that what you are about to witness for the next two hours is surely nothing commonplace. The rest is history !! 'Kaun Hai Yeh Gustakh' playing in the background, as the movie starts, will give you goose bumps !!

Manto's best afsanas are picked up smartly and dramatized amidst the main plot that revolves around the writer's life; his struggles, conflicts in life, illness, addictions, controversies and all the different aspects of his professional and personal life. Even what goes in his mind and his fight with his astral self.

The performances are the most admirable feature of the entire film. Each and every actor portrays the character with full intensity and that is one reason why you are completely lost in the world of Manto imagining yourself to be one of his old admirers (even if you have never read Urdu literature before - and this comes from my firsthand experience). There is a long cast and most of the actors have brief appearances. The performances of Saba Qamar, Shamoon Abbasi, Nadia Afghan, Rehan Sheikh, Hina Bayat omph up the masterpiece.

There are sequences spreadout throughout the film that awestruck you completely, making it a great piece of art. Nimra Bucha plays his wild inner self, who makes appearances at various points setting the ground for his behavior. The depth of the dialogues and the connection between Manto and his astral self is powerful.

Though an intense serious movie, it does not fail to make you laugh at places where the writer very cautiously uses witty phrases and sequences. One such with Mahira Khan and Asfar Rehman is especially true in this regard - it's humorous and refreshing in the dark Manto world. The movie is a blend of places where you could shed tears and also take a laughing break.

Sarmad's acting genius is revealed with all its might and power. After he receives electric shock treatment at a mental hospital, the way he utters words with difficulty and the way Sania Saeed (who plays Begum Manto) reacts to his condition is worth applause. Other actors appear for brief periods of time but leave an imprint since each and every sequence of the movie adds up to its brilliance. One such worth mentioning performance is that of Faisal Qureshi, who plays a voice actor at the radio and tremendously voice overs all the characters in the drama.

It is not only the story telling art that the film has surpassed but the entire cinematography and screenplay is extraordinarily amazing. As mentioned above, the cinematic genius of the movie is evident right from the starting credit and ends with the ending screen credit with the appearances of Hamayun Saeed and Mahira Khan.

For an industry that has been stagnant for years, a revival through such movies as Manto, is miraculous !!! Only mature cinema can produce such a piece of brilliance. It is therefore absolutely a miracle !!

Personal Note: Have you ever witnessed people clapping at the end of a movie show? I mean, it is a ritual for theatre/stage performances but not movies. The elation of the audience was quite evident on the second day of the film when they clapped in applause as the movie ended. This itself speaks for the appreciation the film is gathering.

And my final word, it has imbued in me a deep desire to move to Urdu Literature - something I had never even thought of doing before. Such is the beauty of this amazing film !!! From now on, we should say 'Jis nay Manto nahi waikhi, o jamiya he nahi' !!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

B U S Y - N E S S


So, I could never really imagine that the word ‘busy’ would become so much a part of my life. Maybe I am exaggerating or maybe it’s true. It’s just that I am too busy to think if I am really busy or what. I think I always wanted to be busy…I mean, there was a time when I would work as a freelance writer and stay home all day long. I would have given a billion dollars (If I ever had this much), just to stay busy. However, today things are pretty different.

Alas! Being busy is good…it’s like being busy with something productive. Last night, when I went to bed, I pondered over a number of things that happened last week, I was hit by an idea so BIG that I would rather refer to it as my theory – Amna’s BIG BUSY Theory or something…(Looks like PSM has really inspired me!)

Now the theory runs like this – there is a fine line between being busy and being occupied. And I am actually occupied…now that seems fatal to me!!! By being occupied I mean, I am concentrating on too many things at a time, and that is causing inefficiency and unsatisfactory outcomes. I better hold my nerves!

I wake up at 7:45, when my roommate calls out my name…“Amnaaaaa” From that time onward till 5 o’clock, I am on a constant run, and so is everybody else around me. Finally, when the day is over, I come back to my room and without a second’s delay, I throw myself in my not-so-accommodating bed. And that’s when I sleep with two possible states of mind. One is a combination of frustration, disgust and hope and other being a mixture of joy, elation and hope. So, the hope part is constant, rest keeps altering.

By the time I wake up, it’s dinner time. That’s when the real test of nerves start…Frankly speaking, my friends and I hate the food at the mess. So, we keep munching on the idea of getting pizzas or burgers delivered. Most of the times, the temptation wins and we treat our taste buds with something they love. After that, it is a lazy time, when we chat and chat and chat and chat…our minds occupied, our tongues untied, and our legs shaking ‘coz our minds are so occupied they don’t synchronize with our tongues. Thus, they cause anxiety. That leaves me with a thought that I am occupied but not busy.I have become fond of leaving things to the last moment, and wait for them to come out in the best way. Is that even reasonable to think?

Just as I lied down to sleep, while pondering over the whole thing, hope whispered into my heart – ‘Take it slow but not low’. ‘I will start with a new zeal at the sunrise’, my heart whispered back!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My CSS Success Story ;)


Well, as far as I remember the first time I heard of CSS was when I was a little school-going girl. Our teacher told us that her brother had qualified the toughest exams on the planet…and I was like ‘Oh Man!’ :D
For me, the beginning was quite abrupt… My mom had always been pushy with me on the matter of taking CSS exams but I always gave it a deaf ear, until December 2010… I don’t know what exactly went into me but I decided to take up the exams. Grabbed my copy of CSS guide book from the nearest bookstore and selected my subjects overnight: D… On the 20th of December 2010 I submitted my application… and I said to myself ‘what have I done???’ – I had done something I didn’t have the slightest inkling of just a week before it.
Anyways, I got down to study… took no stress, even though my condition was lame. With a strong faith in Allah, I started searching for helpful material on the internet and elsewhere. Nabbed whatever I could get my hands on… but studying them was challenging, especially keeping to the fact that I didn’t have much of a time and that people around me had high hopes for me. Didn’t want to abase myself before them…had to do it!!! All this was onerous enough to addle me. ‘Do it, Amna’ – my inner voice screamed.  
I gave up my social life and occluded myself of my room. A state of hibernation, one could say. Watching TV before going to bed was something I had to hold on to otherwise I would go mad… That ‘TV time’ was the time for me to read through MCQs. My preparation was good… in fact, quite good since I was able to manage stress well.
Exam days were not so stressful… I didn’t touch a single book during those 5 days (10 papers in a row). I would just take the papers, come back home and relax. Just wanted my brains to have some space to breathe ;)
After much wait, finally the written result came out… now I could tell all my impatient kith and kins about it. The first time I opened up the result document, I gave it a cursory look and hence missed out my name…confused roll numbers with serial numbers…thought my dream had shattered!!!  My hopes turned into debacle!!! Then typed my name in the search bar and found I was there. Yes! I had made it!!! I was there!!! Yiipppeee!!! Thanked Allah a thousand times… !
Qualifying written exams did not come up as a surprise but the thought of final result ran chills down my spine. I did study enough this time… had five months to go through newspapers and revise my optional subjects. So, I worked really hard to catch up with it.
Psychological assessment was somewhat fun… It was interesting to have your competitors right in front of you; each and everyone giving their best. The interview went too well… didn’t drop a single question but the thought of not making it to the merit list was constantly lingering in my head.
At last, the final result came out… merit 114 and 11th position in KPK was all I could wish for. I was safe!!!  
Allocations were like a formality… had already known my group through calculations on the forum and my own personal understanding of how things move around. So, I am here today writing this, mesmerizing all that I have been through for this dream – a dream to serve my nation… to TAX them for a prosperous Pakistan!!! Yahhhhooooo!!!!
Thanks to Allah!   

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Imbalanced Social Equation


Last night, I happened to have the honor to be at a party – societal elite’s gathering. I had never been bestowed with such an honor ere, so this night was quite a night for me. I came across souls which were difficult for me to relate to. I had never met so many people from this class at one place like this before.

The gathering was arranged in a ‘house of the lord’ – expensive chandeliers; shiny marble floor; Italian style wooden furniture; vintage crockery; classy decoration pieces; and breathtaking original paintings on the walls were some of the attractions that dazzled my eyes. Apart from this, their silky attires reminded me of the Roman monarchs - adorned with gems and other embellishments.

I have to admit I felt like a fish out of water; someone who didn’t really fit the bill of the gentility but I was having a nice time scrutinizing the ‘Martians’ – and I was returning them the same favor.

The best part was the dinner; the serving was done in silverware with a blinding sheen, and an array of dishes occupied the large glass table. From Asian cuisine to exotic delicacies, from a variety of fruits to colorful beverages; things seemed to have come out of a book illustrating the food in heaven or at any Mughal emperor’s court. Caterers, in their regalia, roamed around crooning ‘yes, ma’am, yes sir’.

I took a bite and I was chockablock – it seemed as if the food was as shallow as the milieu – outwardly tempting but inwardly unsavory. I wrapped my sandwich in a tissue paper to throw it away later, since I could not see any leftovers on the table and I thought it was one of the aristocratic class rules – so I was forced to follow their norms…as the old adage goes ‘when in Rome, do as Romans do.’ Naturally!

Flabbergasted in my mind and stumbled over the existence of such a class in our society, I wanted to take some air so I went out to gather myself. Dramatic, it may sound, but the atmosphere was so intense, I badly wanted some fresh air. The patio was a semi-circle with a fountain in the heart of it.

Just when I was observing some mosaic pattern on the wall, I faintly heard the eesha azaan – very feeble and dead in the deafening Spanish music. I thought it was time for me to leave.

I bade farewell to my hosts and walked straight to my car, thinking about the witnessed pomp and show.

I realized the sandwich was still in my hands (now somewhat stale and sweaty), looking for a garbage can, I reckoned I would better dump it in my kitchen trash bin. Just as my car turned at the crossing, I saw something on the road – was it a dog? May be a big cat? What was that on the road? Oh! It was a man! With his eyes weary; his skin tan; his finger nails blackened to the end; he came forward with pursed lips…I thought he must be hungry, so I gave him the sandwich I was previously thinking to dump. I don’t know how to explain that in words, but he gnawed at that piece of sandwich like an animal. I had never seen a man eating that way ever. I am not sure since when he had not eaten anything, but I can certainly say he was as much a human with stomach and taste buds as the people in the ‘palace’.

My car stood in the mid-way; on my right was the illuminated chateau, where the royals celebrated their jamboree and to my left was a hungry man, born to live on leftovers and to lie in dark alleys. It gave me chills down my spine. I was thankful to Allah for giving me a life better than so many others, and moreover for giving birth to me in a country like ours, where I can see both the black and the white, and can be thankful to realize that I lie in the gray part between the two extremes! I am proud of living in a country with four seasons, but I think it makes me less proud to be a part of a system with such an imbalanced social equation. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My Political Evolution



Today, I can proudly say that I possess the much needed civic sense that most of us lack – I finally cast my first ever national vote. May be I should have done it earlier but….Yaaaaaayyyyy!!! At least, I have learned to put my cards on the table.

To chip in a protest for your right and that of your fellowmen is nothing short of casting a vote, right?

We all talk about prompting some change or revolution to shove off our country from the current ordeal, but we seldom ever work our fingers to the bone to make it happen.

However, I am a happy soul today. I took part in the recent sit-in protest observed by PTI against the US drone attacks on our soil.

There was a hive of activity. Weaving in and out of the crowd, I could get but a brief glance of Imran Khan – the man in action. Donned in white shalwar qameez and chitrali cap, he stood there looking tenacious! The moment I looked at his face (this moment lasted only a fifth of a second) a flashback ran at the back of my mind; the moment he lifted up the cricket world cup; the campaign he led for his cancer hospital; his efforts during the flood-2010; and now he stood there showing all the ‘Experienced Politicians’ the ropes, who don’t seem to halt their blamestorming, let alone the NATO supplies.

Imran Khan? He is such a mover and shaker. Ya! He is the man. I want him to become the next Prime Minister of Pakistan. At least, we should give him a chance”. Sounds cliché? I have heard a million people saying this about him, but seldom do we use our right to vote. By dint of which, he is always thrown in at the deep end.

I think it’s time we learn to get our feet under the table!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Writing – My Love is As a Fever





If writing be the food of life, go on,
Give me all of it; but even with surfeiting,
The appetite may never sicken or die.
(Modification of Shakespeare’s quote)

I like to live with the credo that my love for my creator or my kith and kins is unconditional, but does my love for writing enjoy the same status? To my cognizance writing is my passion – something I fell in love with in my early years and continue to nurture my feelings to date - sounds quite like a cliché but that’s how it really is.

While pondering over my love for writing, I decided to jot down some of the obvious reasons why I might be in love with it. Here is what I could think of:

It has anted up my voice – I can reach a million eyeballs and ears

It satisfies my urge of human right of speech and expression – something I had only heard of before

It makes me feel cocksure – the feeling that I have the efficacy to beget something overwhelms me

It wins me appreciation

Wins me friends – most of my cyber friends go gaga at my introduction as a writer – although they may get chagrined at the mediocrity of my writing afterward but by then I have already won them as friends  

Satisfies my hunger for knowledge

Very few lucky ones have the opportunity to make their passion their livelihood and I am happy to state here that I am one among them

It has given me an identity of my own – I could never wish for anything more

My friend in my loneliness – it always mitigates me in the darkest of times

It taught me the term 'writer's block' so I don't have to say 'I'm afraid' or ‘I can’t do it’

Monday, April 11, 2011

Last Week, I Won a Pot Full of Wisdom in the Lottery of Life!!!

Every new day of life totes with it an overflow of lessons, making us mature enough to endure the venom of life more sensibly; preparing us to take the good things in high spirits; and helping us to learn, who means what to us in our life (because we tend to either underestimate or overestimate it quite often). Last week has been somewhat freaky for me – it has been nothing lesser than a roller coaster ride with all its see-saw effects.

Let’s first talk about the high-up; I got my dream writing project – and I feel like a million bucks for it!!!

Then, there were those obnoxious knocks at my door! The first concerned a school-time classmate (I can hardly call her my friend), who lost her only brother aged 30. I have not seen her in years, but when I heard of her loss, I had to fight back my tears. For a moment I was like a bump on a log and her face kept crossing my mind round the clock.

Then, I heard about my old school teacher, who never taught me, battling a fatal disease; the thoughts of death and tragedy kept creeping into my mind through showers of nightmare.

And then the biggest blow was the news of my friend’s divorce. A friend, I had met on FB and have never seen in real. You cannot impede anyone from dying; you cannot curb a deadly disease; but you can surely prevent falling apart of the things that you have control over.

Although, I don’t know any of them like the back of my hand, but I feel for them – at least, we share the same race – the human race!

All these happenings collectively worked as a caution light for me, professing one basic truth – we don’t know for how long we may live, so we must live happily, appeasing, and obeying Allah – to whom we are accountable for all our actions.