HYDERABAD: After moving the people to pop, rock, contemporary and folk music on a cold and breezy Saturday, the Lahooti Melo on Sunday afternoon returned with sessions of academic discourse staggered with musical performances. In different sessions, which mostly failed to start on time and produce promised panellists, debates were held on film, music, culture and women’s empowerment as well as storytelling by a host of raconteurs.
‘Lost and found music treasures’
Architect and heritage expert Marvi Mazhar moderated a session that partly digressed to the good and bad components of culture as panellists suggested how the good can be retained and the bad given up.
Musician Arieb Azhar believed that the term ‘traditional music’ is often mistaken with either rural or folk music.
Tahzeeb Foundation director Sharif Aiwan regretted the fact that Pakistan delayed jumping on the global music bandwagon. He said some western musicians dedicated themselves to creating a global genre of music, which collected assortments of music from around the world. “As we [Pakistanis] were busy in other things, India hurried and had classical music [from the Subcontinent] recognised as their genre even though Pakistan has an equal claim to it.”
Musician Natasha Noorani said much of what became known as ‘Pakistani music’ in the last 30 years was not actually Pakistani. She said from instruments to rhythms and performance all were inspired by foreign trends.
Saif Samejo of the Sketches, who organised the Lahooti Melo, said that unlike narrative setting festivals in Pakistan, such events are purely meant for entertainment in the developed world.
However, Lok Virsa’s director Fauzia Saeed believed that giving a strategic objective to festivals is important. She bemoaned that the symbols of Pakistan’s culture are often stigmatised, giving an example of how speaking pure Urdu or wearing shalwar kameez are discouraged in some sections of society. “We have stigmatised the soul of our culture and we are putting it down!”
Azhar said that he has planned to introduce the flavour of urs, the annual festivities that take place at Sufi shrines, in the music festivals he has been organising in Islamabad for the last three years. “The people, both rich and poor, of one religion or another, men and women, all get complete freedom to move around in an urs,” he said. “We want to bring in this environment in our festivals.”
Panellists discussed issues confronting the struggling Pakistani film industry, ban on Indian movies and winding down of Sindhi cinema.
Film historian Mehmood Mughal argued that the ban on Indian movies should persist to allow the local industry to find its feet. However, filmmaker Jamshed Mahmood Raza alias Jami Mahmood and journalist Rafay Mehmood, who moderated the session, differed.
Mughal said despite the talent and acumen, Pakistan cannot bring its film content at par with Indians. “If we allow the Indian movies, they suppress our people’s potential.” Jami replied by asserting that Indian films can help Pakistani artists learn and improve their work.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2017.