Thursday, 24 June 2010

Ishara: the wind-up

Ishara (1969) winds up within three minutes after the last song. Here is the clip, and you may like to consider the following question while you watch it:

Please post your answeres as "comments" below. The clip is 4 minutes long and I have sub-titled it. Apart from Amir (Waheed Murad), Aliya (Deeba) and Bezar Sahib (Lehri), whom you know from previous clips, you will also meet here Ishrat (Talat Husain), who is the boy Aliya's guardian wants her to marry, and Reshma (Rozina), who is a sponsor of Amir's paintings who has fallen in love with Amir but Amir cannot love her back because his thoughts are with Aliya.

Monday, 21 June 2010

The last song

In the movie Ishara (1969), Amir (Waheed Murad) meets his soulmate Aliya (Deeba) but they must part when Aliya's guardian decides to marry her elsewhere. Amir paints a picture of the gate that has been closed on him thus, and on his own painting takes him elsewhere.

The fantasy song takes a step deeper into the artist's imagination. We entered his mind when the film started and now we are visiting his soul. The film turns from black and white to color, and we see archetypes of South Asian cinema rearranged to depict the spiritual realm. Consider this question as you watch the video:

The video is not sub-titled, so a basic translation of the song is being given here (chroeographers mime most of these lines anyway).
My Love, do not be sad, life is the Tale of Suffering;
I am here, you are there, and the ruthless Time is in between.
We meet for the last time, so why not meet smilingly:
Put out all lamps of grief while we meet.
[Stanza 1]
Hide the tears in your eyes,
For God's sake do not burn you heart like this;
Today is a test on integrity,
Let's look into the eyes of Time as we meet it.
[Stanza 2]
Let's look at you to our heart's content today,
Since we must become estranged tomorrow.
Do not leave us yet,
Let's hide every suffering today while we meet.

Bezar Sahib

As already observed, people from all segments of society are included in the inner world of Amir in the movie Ishara (1969). The video presented here offers a comparison: in the song sequence you will see the inner world of Amir's friend and neighbor Bezar Sahib (literally Mr. Fed Up), who was introduced at the beginning.

Please answer the following question as you watch the video:
  • In what ways is the world of Bezar different from Amir's?

The clip is 5 minutes 11 seconds long. I have sub-titled it in English. Credits can be found on the Youtube Page. Please leave a comment below, and then proceed to the next post.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The World of Consensus Literature

The film Ishara (1969), written, directed and produced by Waheed Murad (1938-1983) begins with the subjective camera moving onwards. So, it is you entering that street (which is the artist's world), while the artist welcomes you in a voiceover.

In the previous post, we discussed people and objects in the artist's world with whom you may like to identify yourself. Now, as you watch the second clip, please consider two questions and then write your answers as "comments" below:
  • What actions are performed by Amir (Waheed Murad) during the song?
  • How do these actions symbolise the role played by artists like Waheed Murad in their societies?

The clip is 3 minutes 38 seconds long. I have sub-titled it in English. Credits can be found on the Youtube Page of the clip (you reach there by double-clicking the video). Please leave a comment below, and then proceed to the next post to see where this discussion is taking us.

This is the second post in a five-part series about the role of literature in society, beginning with 'Know Yourself'.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Know yourself

What is literature, and how does it affect you? Understanding this might be more important than we usually presume. I am starting a series of posts on this subject and shall try to make them interactive.

The following is a clip I use in my workshops on this topic. As you watch the clip (sub-titled in English), try to answer this simple question: Where are you in this clip, or Who are you in it? Please post your answers as "comments" below.

After you have posted your "answer", you may like to visit the next post on this blog to see a follow-up and wind-up (page will be posted on Friday, June 18).

Note: the clip is from Ishara (1969), a film written, directed and produced by Waheed Murad (1938-1983), who also plays the artist Amir in the movie. I find this movie to be an excellent entry point into that entire discourse on literature which is so crucial to our civilization today.

Other posts in the series:

Monday, 14 June 2010

Afghanistan: mineral wealth of more than $900 billion found

The latest about Afghanistan is that vast mineral wealth has been discovered there, enough to turn the country into Saudi Arabia of mining. Of course, most media is using headlines such as "US finds mineral riches in Afghanistan." Details suggest that the wealth is enough to turn Afghanistan into an ultra rich country as well as financing the US war in Afghanistan. Hence one can begin to wonder about the ulterior motives of foreign powers and about how much of this wealth will eventually go to the people of Afghanistan (see details in The New York Times and Yahoo! News).

Those familiar with the work of Allama Iqbal may recall the apt advice offered by him on this matter long ago. In 1923, he dedicated his second volume of poetry, Payam-i-Mashriq (A Message from the East) to King Amanullah of Afghanistan and suggested that Afghanistan should pay attention to acquiring modern knowledge for extracting its mineral resources while at the same time building moral strength and sharpness of mind for defending them. In his latter writings, Iqbal went on to suggest that Asia was a single organism and the Afghan nation was like the heart in it: the whole body would remain ill as long as the heart was diseased.

The dedicatory epistle addressed to King Amanullah has been summarized in Chapter 32 of the revised version of The Republic of Rumi (available online on blog as well as website).

The following is translation of an excerpt from the original (translation is by late Hadi Husain), followed by link to the chapter of RR which summarizes the poem.
Life is a struggle, not beseeching rights;
And knowledge is the arms with which one fights.
God ranked it with the good things that abound
And said it must be grasped, wherever found.
The one to whom the Quran was revealed,
From whom no aspect of truth was concealed,
Beheld the Essence itself with his eye;
And yet “God, teach me still more” was his cry.
Knowledge of things is Adam’s gift from God,
The shining palm of Moses and his rod,
The secret of the greatness of the West,
The source of all that it has of the best.
We would see, if our spirits had true zest,
Nothing but diamonds in the roadside dust.
Knowledge and wealth make nations sound and strong,
And thus enable them to get along.
For knowledge cultivate your people’s minds;
For wealth exploit your mineral finds.
Go, plunge a dagger into your land’s bowels;
Like Somnat’s idol it is full of jewels.
In it do rubies of Badakhshan lie;
In its hills is the thunder of Sinai.
 See details in Chapter 32: The King of Afghanistan

Monday, 7 June 2010

The DNA of Social Studies

I would like to share a few things from the workshop which I am conducting these days at Educational Resource Development Centre (ERDC), Karachi. It is called Breaking the Code: the DNA of Social Studies.

The concept is that just as DNA is a basic code encompassing the entire range of development the organism may potentially achieve, so there are a few basic truths about an area of study which yield an overall plan into which new developments may easily fit as the learner goes along.

The workshop consists of seven sessions:
  1. Ancient Civilizations
  2. Modern History
  3. Iqbal
  4. An Overview of Geography
  5. Civics: a Mind Map for Pakistani Learners
  6. Pakistan: understanding the idea and the reality
  7. Recap and Conclusions
A shorter version conducted for teachers last month became quite popular, so this is a longer version for students as well as teachers. Personally, for me, its a nice experience to be addressing "house full" sessions once again (the current round has 35 participants, which is the maximum capacity of the venue).

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Workshop about Iqbal

I conducted a workshop with Social Studies teachers and trainers in Lahore on Saturday, May 29. The following is a report of that workshop by Manzoor Malik in Dawn (published on May 31, 2010).
THE Association for Social Studies Educators and Teachers (ASSET) in collaboration with Iqbal Academy on last Saturday organised a “Movie and workshop session on Allama Iqbal” at the Idara-i-Taleem-o-Aagahi main office.

Facilitated by Iqbal Academy Pakistan’s research consultant Khurram Ali Shafique, the session included Iqbal’s concept of Pakistan and a few tips for looking at history and Pakistan Studies in the light of his ideas.
Iqbal’s greatest work ‘Javidnama’ was also introduced at the session and the participants were enlightened with seven stages of personal development, found through the works of Iqbal.

At the session, excerpts from the Allahabad address: Iqbal’s concept of Pakistan and Iqbal’s poems for children were also discussed.