Many of us are familiar with the haveli of Lahore that’s oft graced by the crème de la crème of Pakistan’s social and political realms. Where the Haveli Barood Khana serves as the hub of many televised interviews and shows, parties, dinners and get-togethers, the man behind the iconic mansion has been playing a critical role in reviving and promoting the cultural heritage of the country.
Mian Yousuf Salahuddin, colloquially known as Yousaf Salli, speaks to The Express Tribune about his upcoming project and the current state of the entertainment industry.
Yousuf Salahuddin with the late Reshma
Salahuddin reveals he plans on producing a drama serial on the life of Mughal Emperor Jahangir. “I’m currently focusing on research and reading books that are based on his life. Also, I briefly read Tuzk-e-Jahangiri and Ain-i-Akbari,” he shares. He has also recorded naats by Behzad Lakhnavi and plans on inviting Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Nadeem Abbas, Sahir Ali Bagga and many others to recite naats on PTV throughout the month. The cultural icon has previously served as executive producer for the adapted version of Waris Shah’s Heer Ranjha for PTV.
Salahuddin, who’s a socialite, philanthropist and was formerly a politician, is the grandson of Allama Iqbal. With reviving Basant festivals and classical music through the television show Virsa Heritage Revived to his credit, he has brought together the city’s social and arts circles. He feels artists are an asset of any nation and that he has been trying his best to “pay tributes to artists of the subcontinent, regardless of them being Pakistani or Indian.”.
He added, “In my programmes and social gatherings, I’ve vocally appreciated Lata Mangeshkar and other great Indian singers because I believe in merit.” He further said, “I always try to promote singers and music. To this end, I’ve produced different programmes and dramas in the past and am still engaged in highlighting the good work that’s being done.”
Salahuddin holds Pakistan is enriched with great artists and there’s a need to acknowledge their services. “Talent has no boundaries and that’s the reason why our artists, such as Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Ali Zafar have been working in India. It proves that we don’t have any shortage of talent.” Expressing pride over Pakistani artists, he lauded them for having earned their spurs on the basis of their talent and hard work. “This is the reason why our work is popular around the world, especially in India. Indians fear our dramas and artists now,” he added.
Salahuddin laments that favoritism and group politics have destroyed the film industry. “The older generation isn’t able to experiment and it’s time to introduce youngsters in the field,” he said. Applauding the recent influx of talent in the entertainment industry, he said, “The fresh lot of actors, including Ali Zafar, Mahira Khan, Humaima Malik and Humayun Saeed, is worth commending, as it has been making efforts to revive the industry.”
While addressing how the film industry is undergoing a revival, Salahuddin said, “As compared to Bollywood, the local film industry isn’t taking advantage of the so-called liberalism. By portraying nudity in films, Indians think they’re liberal but I feel that isn’t modernism. We can see the glimpse of liberalism and modernism in Turkey, where mosques and churches are situated on the same road. We should show reality in our films and dramas.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2015.