KARACHI: LSA was LSA, with the air permeating with a grandiose aura, peppy music, accustomed faces, gaudy outfits and excessive clamour from the crowds. It was ‘the’ place to be – but was it?
Amid all the pomp and splendour at the star-glazed affair, there was a sense of emptiness. A hollow so endless, it almost cut through and through like shards of glass.
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Baaghi bagged big. Best Original Soundtrack, Best Actress and Best Play. That’s quite the win – but who won really? There was a sense of elation on stage when these trophies were handed over. The crowds, intoxicated on frenzy, cheered and hailed and then there was a round of that very addictive applause. But then why the emptiness, you may ask. Why the shards of raw glass piercing the soul, you may wonder. Let me elaborate.
Qandeel Baloch would’ve loved to attend this bash. Maybe on stage. Maybe performing to a badass song or maybe just jeering from within the masses. Either way, she would’ve loved being there. She would’ve loved to primp up in her distinctive style for the glamorous night of the stars. And if you look at it the way I see it, it was her night after all.
Baaghi emanated from her life - and her death. It was derived and originated post her brutish demise. What’s disturbing is that the very same society that mocked her ceaselessly and rejected her bravura persistently has now suddenly converted into loyal devotees who are more than just intrigued by her life, which was continually brimming with adversities and hate. Interesting, right?
It’s almost funny how the now ‘honourable society’ that made a mockery of Qandeel’s life during her life is celebrating and promoting it with trophies galore. This sudden bout of newly generated respect that birthed within this society, reeks of out-and-out hypocrisy.
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And this entire award ceremony suddenly discharges a stench of pretense. Did Qandeel have to be mercilessly berated and killed to garner this acceptance from society? Did Qandeel have to die callously to be esteemed as an entertainer in society? Seems like she did.
You know what’s more troubling? Qandeel wasn’t represented at the LSA. Baaghi was represented, nominated and ultimately named chief winner but the harsh truth haunting us is that Qandeel had to lose at life to be featured in the series. Because I don’t recall one prominent director, producer or film-maker who wanted to collaborate with her. Do you? But did anyone bring this to your attention? Did the LSA highlight the fact that Qandeel and countless talented young men and women are discounted and rejected every single day in this country because there’s a monopoly system that needs to be addressed?
Moving on from rhetorical questions and coming back to LSA, 2018. Apparently this year’s ceremony was supposed to be all about the #MeinBhi campaign. Frieha Altaf, who was proudly running the show at the LSA and promoting her campaign fiercely, must have forgotten about Qandeel. As much as the night was bursting with Baaghi, it was devoid of Qandeel. What did this ‘campaign’ of sorts serve really? Because it didn’t cater to Qandeel or the other multitudes of girls (and boys) like her. It didn’t even provide the essential and uber imperative message to society as to quit this duplicity, these double standards, this non-acceptance. Live and let live – that’s what they preach right?
Saba Qamar was lauded for her brilliant portrayal of Qandeel - as she should've been - but why was the woman whom Baaghi is based off of ignored? The media and production houses cashed in ginormously from Qandeel's depiction in the hit series - but was she not worthy of a single mention? Was she just forgotten, again?
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This mammoth platform wasn’t utlilised to educate the country’s youth, comprising millennial men and women who need direction; who need to be educated on the consequences of inequality, assault and animosity against those who don’t confine to the limits of order; it was merely a stage. Nothing more.
And yes, both women and men needed that very indispensable lesson. To my utter disappointment, the ‘event’ was scant in spreading the message and overly generous about featuring the performing arts. And mind you, I’m all for the performing arts – that’s what I studied in college and the drive to voraciously create art landed me to make it as an editor, so I’m all for dance and music – but, if you decide to lace the mother of all platforms in Pakistan aka LSA with a #MeinBhi campaign, then live up to it – and team it with the performance arts; explain what it’s about; discuss what it means. Don’t make a mockery of it. And that’s what it was. A mockery of #MeToo.
Makes me think, why even include this campaign at all when you won’t address what needs to be done to trigger a change of mindsets, and not acknowledge what all this country has lost at the hands of this unscrupulous society. Just leave it be – and stop with the ‘holier than thou’ attitude.
Qandeel probably would call them out on this insincerity – but no one listened to her then, and no one’s comprehending much now either. The exterior of this whole thingie looks deliciously welcoming but the insides seem to be infested with rabies (Sorry for the gruesome image but had to be done). ‘The inside is what matters after all’ - that’s what is preached, right? But is it practiced?
Kudos to Osman Khalid Butt to be the sole person to have mentioned Qandeel’s name. And I absolutely love the fact that a man felt the need to address the slain, misunderstood, fearless girl when every woman participating in this woman-centric gala conveniently overlooked her existence. Being an ardent humanist, I’m so proud of Osman. We need more like him.
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One more thing before I leave you guys to ponder over the LSAs... Feminism is not about berating men and authorising women to belittle them. It’s about humanism, equality and educating men and women on gender parity. That’s probably the reason I don’t identify as a feminist. I’m a humanist as is Osman Khalid Butt – and he was more of a ‘spot-on feminist’ at the ceremony than any other woman out there.
Next time any of you folk initiate or associate with a movement such as #MeToo or #MeinBhi, do more research as to what it means.
Thank you. Mic drop.
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