Becoming an artist: ‘Promotion of art can change Karachi’

Benazir Bhutto university in Lyari hosts I Am Karachi's sixth Dialogue session.

The speakers at the sixth I Am Karachi dialogue, held at the Benazir Bhutto Shaheed University Lyari, talk about the visual and performing arts. PHOTO: AYSHA SALEEM/EXPRESS

KARACHI: Lyari is an area known for its cultural diversity. It has also been known for its tolerance, said Dr Akhtar Baloch, the vice-chancellor of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed University Lyari (BBSUL).

He was speaking at the sixth Dialogue session, organised by 'I Am Karachi' in collaboration with the Express Media Group, at the varsity campus on Monday. "At our university, we promote a culture of tolerance and secularism in order to implant the right values in the youth," said Baloch.

"We are thankful to both organisations for enlightening the students of Lyari with their wisdom," he said. "In the future, we are willing to partner with the Express Media Group to organise such dialogues to promote the culture of tolerance, peace and stability."

The session was moderated by Zara Basharat, the head of corporate communications and corporate social responsibility at The Express Tribune along with musician Shallum Xavier and National Academy of Performing Arts' (Napa) Zain Ahmed.

Xavier shared his life journey with the students of BBSUL. "When I started learning music, there were no professional institutions to train aspiring musicians," he recalled. "I have learned everything on my own and through books." It is just a matter of setting up a goal for yourself and taking a step towards your goal, he advised.

"It is hard to deny the impact of a melodious tune on an individual's mind and soul," said Xavier. "Music is an expression that can have a lasting impact on the lives of people."

Ahmed admitted that it is hard to escape the reality of music. "If we look around, we can find the echoes everywhere including our heartbeat, the coo-coo of a cuckoo and the sound of rain," he said.

Ahmed encouraged the students to explore themselves in order to do what makes them happy. "Hard work is a prerequisite for success and important for survival," he said. "If you choose to work hard, then choose a career that makes you happy." It is difficult to become successful in the profession of theatre. "Napa offers a three-year diploma in theatre and I often advise my students to count it as six-years," Ahmed said, adding that three extra years are dedicated to the struggle.

The actor and director also emphasised on the significance of open stages. "There is a dire need of open stages in Karachi," he said. "Cultural activities are significantly affected by violence and people are afraid to go out with their families to witness theatre, concerts and movies."

In conclusion, Xavier said that music enhances the brain activity of an individual. "Whatever profession you belong to, I urge every one of you to play a musical instrument once in your life," he said.

The next Dialogue session will take place at the Textile Institute of Pakistan on April 29. The topic of discussion will be sports and recreation.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2015.



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