Taking flight: SZABIST student’s documentary to be showcased at Cannes

Published: April 17, 2014
‘Masters of the Sky’ explores traditional art of pigeon fighting. DESIGN: AMNA IQBAL/FILE

‘Masters of the Sky’ explores traditional art of pigeon fighting. DESIGN: AMNA IQBAL/FILE


Serajus Salikin, a 22-year-old student of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (Szabist), is all set for his debut on the silver screen, as his documentary will be screened at the upcoming Cannes International Film Festival.

The 67th Cannes festival will open on 14th May. Salikin’s documentary, Masters of the Sky, has been selected for the Short Film Corner and focuses on the traditional art of pigeon fighting.

The documentary was produced by the media sciences student as a final project for a course entitled Documentary Vision, according to Shehram Mokhtar, head of the institution’s media sciences department.

After winning awards at national film festivals organised by Lahore University of Management Sciences, Aga Khan University and Szabist itself, Salikin opted to try his luck at Cannes. “I cannot explain my excitement,” he told The Express Tribune. “I was not expecting the film to be accepted!” Salikin says he also hopes that the screening will enable him to meet investors interested in producing a feature film from the short documentary.

Salikin’s nine-minute documentary follows Mehmood Ashraf, a veteran ‘kabootarbaz’ [pigeon fighter] of Jamshed Road, a close-knit neighbourhood of Karachi, where pigeon fighters practice their art on rooftops and in the narrow winding streets of the pigeon market.

Salikin followed Ashraf, who has been practicing the sport for 60 years, as he passes his art to a young apprentice, Huzaifa.

“I have tried to capture the passion that drives a small group of people to train hundreds of pigeons in order to claim their worth as ‘masters’,” Salikin said.  “This sport is being passed down from one generation to the next through word-of-mouth and constant practice.”

The official selection for the festival will be announced by festival director Thierry Frémaux today.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • True Karachiwala
    Apr 17, 2014 - 12:54PM

    Good Luck Salikin, a Karachiite. I today read in a newspapar that another Karachiite, Mir Zafar Ali, has won 3rd Oscar award for his visual effects in film “Frozen” and we have Ms.Chinoy who also bagged an Oscar. So it’s good going and one really feels happy and proud.


  • sattar rind
    Apr 17, 2014 - 3:16PM

    Good news in depressed time


  • Grammarian
    Apr 17, 2014 - 7:18PM

    @True Karachiwala:
    Why cant you say: Good luck Salikin, a Pakistani. Why bring up the Karachi element? Seems unnecessary.


  • True Karachiwala
    Apr 18, 2014 - 10:12AM

    Karachi is in Pakistan, I am a Pakistani. The fact that Karachi within Pakistan is portrayed as a horrible place to live, I miss no occasion to celebrate the resilience, motivation, energy, diversity and colourfulness of my great city. No hate or discrimination towards others.


  • WFJ
    Apr 18, 2014 - 2:56PM

    Bravo Szabistians!!!


  • Muhammad Riaz Ul Haq
    Apr 18, 2014 - 8:53PM

    I feel so proud when I know that he’s my cousin. Great Work!Recommend

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