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GT – June 16-30 2018

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1. Next’s Summer ’18 collection

Next’s Summer ’18 collection is all about style and glamour this year. We can’t get enough of this beautiful red embroidered Boho blouse with frill sleeves featuring a fusion of traditional embroideries, modern designs and a vibrant colour palette. Look out for your favourites as the collection is now available in stores.

2. Uraan

Uraan; a clothing line exclusively designed for Eid, will be exhibited from the 3rd of June from 4pm-10pm till Chaand Raat at TRIMMERS Salon For Women, 96 R Commercial Area Phase 2 DHA Lahore.

3. Marina Home Interiors: Nest Pendant

Wonderful to look at and even better to illuminate, this stunning, large, pendant light, made of burnished brass, exudes a futuristic, nucleus-like design. A real showstopper, this gorgeous and surprisingly versatile item deserves pride of place in the main rooms of a house or office and will pair well with a range of interior design styles.

New Jewellery Designer, Ally Adnan produces one-of a-kind conversation pieces inspired by Etruscan, Victorian, Hellenic and Greek jewellery

By Noor Akbar Chishti

“I started designing jewellery for my wife, on a whim, a few years ago,” remembers Ally Adnan. “I liked a lot of the jewellery that was available in the market but felt that it lacked individuality and mass-production took a lot away from its charm. My goal was to design unique one-of-a-kind pieces that no one other than my wife would wear.”

In the years that have followed, Adnan has expanded his customer base which no longer includes just his wife. Jewellery items designed are highly sought after by discerning clients in the U.S. where the designer lives and in his native Pakistan, and typically sell out before they have been made. “The demand for my pieces is greater than what I can produce,” says Adnan. “It takes a lot to design pieces and, since designing is not my primary profession, I can only design a few at a time.”

Ally draws inspiration mostly from Etruscan, Victorian, Hellenic and Greek jewellery and combines design elements to create what are veritable works of art. He sources gemstones from India, Thailand and China and has all his jewellery is crafted in Pakistan. His pieces are known for their unusual designs, superior workmanship, and high quality.

Ally will soon be launching a store to sell his jewellery online. In the meantime, interested buyers can contact him via email at [email protected].

By Sana Zehra

Recently Citrus Talent Agency’s’ Fahad Hussain on Facebook accused Iqra Aziz of breaching their contract by signing with another talent agency. Iqra denied all accusations and allegations against her. It’s now all water under the bridge as the two sorted out their “misunderstandings” and “miscommunications” and released a joint statement.

Rumour has it Amy Schumer compared the royal wedding to a Westminster dog show. Ouch!

Rumour has it Imran Abbas is all set to make his Hollywood debut in the movie, The Trojan Horse, playing a spy of Syrian-Moroccan descent. Read more about Imran in our archives.

Rumour has it that actors Aditya Roy Kapoor and Katrina Kaif might be dating. The two shared screen in Fitoor earlier this year, and are now touring the U.S. I guess we will have to wait and see how it turns out.

Rumour has it that Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas are dating. Despite a 10 year age gap, the two get along well and are all sultry smiles when togther.

Rumour has it that Moammar Rana compares himself to Rambo, nope not the cockroach killer. We are talking about Sylvester Stallone’s John Rambo and people of course did not take it well. We are not too sure where the resemblance is but a lot of people are eye rolling on this one.

Rumour has it that Danish Taimoor is all set to make his TV comeback after five years with Sanam Chauhdry in Ab Dekh Khuda Kia Karta Hai.

Rumour has it that Hrithik  may just bag another big one with Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The two recently had a two hour long meeting together regarding Bhansali’s upcoming period film tentatively titled, Prince. If the actor gives his nod to the project (and we seriously hope he does), this will be his second collaboration with the director.

Rumour has it Kim Kardashian has caused a ruckus yet again. This time fully clothed! She posted a picture while sucking on an appetite suppressing lollipop. Actress Jamila Jamil blasted Kardashian calling her “a terrible and toxic influence on young girls,” adding that the whole family makes her feel actual despair over what women are reduced to. Tsk tsk some people will never learn.

Disclaimer: The information, view or opinion expressed in this article/post has not been verified by us and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of GT magazine.

GT Books

The New River Press Yearbook

Year of the Propaganda Corrupted Plebiscites

The dynamic New River Press, founded by the husband and wife team of Greta Bellamacina and Robert Montogomery, is bringing modern poetry to a whole new audience. Their annual poetry yearbook comprises the work of truly current and brave new voices from all over the world. Read on for selections from the yearbook and more on some of the contributors

ROBERT MONTGOMERY

Robert Montgomery is best known for his billboard poems. Black and Blue Literary Journal has said of his work: “To encounter the work of Robert Montgomery is to make a tender encounter whose tenderness is enhanced by the public, communal quality of his work. To encounter his work is to have your body filled with a sad thunder and your head filled with a sad light. He is a complete artist and works in language, light, paper, space. He engages completely with the urban world with a translucent poetry. His work arrives at us through a kind of lucid social violence. No one has blended language, form and light in such a direct way.”

GRETA BELLAMACINA

Greta Bellamacina published her first collection Kaleidoscope in 2011. In 2014, she was short-listed as the Young Poet Laureate of London. The next year, she edited A Collection of Contemporary British Love Poetry, a survey of British love poetry from Ted Hughes till now, featuring the work of Wendy Cope, Emily Berry, Annie Freud and Sam Riviere.  She has been a writer-in-residence at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in LA. and Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine says Greta, “is garnering critical acclaim for her way with words and her ability to translate the classic poetic form into the contemporary creative landscape.” Greta’s new collection Perishing Tame is a dazzling and frank meditation on motherhood, female identity, ennui and love.  Greta and her work have featured in The Guardian, The Times, The Evening Standard, Dazed & Confused, I-D Magazine, Interview Magazine, British Vogue, Elle , Wonderland, and Hunger Magazine. She has performed her poetry on CNN, BBC World News, BBC Radio 4 , BBC London, BBC Radio 2 with Jonathan Ross and BBC Radio 3 on The Verb poetry show.

ROSALIND JANA

Rosalind Jana is a poet, author, and journalist. Having studied English Literature at Oxford (writing her debut non-fiction book Notes on Being Teenage alongside her studies), she’s also written for places including British Vogue, BBC Radio 4, AnOther, Dazed, Broadly, Refinery 29, Buzzfeed, So it Goes, and Suitcase. Now in her early twenties, her first collection Branch and Vein has a poise and silvery assurance that belies her youth. A poem from the collection, Hollow, was highly commended by the Forward Prize 2018.

AFSHAN SHAFI

Afshan Shafi lives in Lahore and has studied English Literature and International Relations at the University of Buckingham. Her poems have regularly appeared in international poetry publications, such as Poetry Wales, Blackbox Manifold, Flag + Void, and others. They have also appeared in the anthology Smear: Poems for girls (edited by Greta Bellamacina), the upcoming anthology Halal if you hear me (edited by Fatima Asgher and Safia Elhillo) and The New River Press Year Book. In addition, her debut book of poems Odd Circles was published by Readings (Pakistan) in 2014. Afshan has served as a poetry editor for The Missing Slate and is a senior contributing editor at the Aleph Review an assistant editor at GoodTimes magazine.

This young poetesse’s collection of  poetry (with illustrations by Samya Arif, Ishita Basu Mallik and Marjan Baniasadi) titled Quiet Women is out soon. Vahni Capildeo has described the book as a collection of “vividness and beauty, sensual and bloody and lavender and fiery.”

LISA LUXX

Lisa Luxx is a writer, performer, philosopher and activist of British Syrian heritage. Broadcasting on BBC Radio 4, VICE, TEDx, BBC Radio Leeds, ITV she has been heralded as one of the UK’s top four queer poets by Diva magazine. Winner of the 2018 Outspoken Prize for Performance Poetry, she was also shortlisted for the Peace Poetry Prize and Saboteur Awards Best Spoken Word Performer 2017.

Her work has been published in magazines, books and newspapers internationally, by the likes of: i-D, Tate Britain, The Daily Telegraph, The International Times, Tribe de Mama (US), The Numinous (US), The Sunday Times, Verve Poetry Press, Wasafiri, and Sage Press (India).

In 2017, Luxx released a collection of poems and essays called The 4th Brain; a journey for connection through sisterhood, internet and revolution. Dazed and Confused Magazine said of her work: “Her poems are sensitive and revolutionary – always kind, always fierce.”

ZIA AHMED

London laureate Zia Ahmed recalls a childhood growing up in Cricklewood and Kilburn where poetry was common practice: “I have a vivid memory of being around seven, walking into a room where a group of Pakistani men sat around quoting poetry to each other, almost as a release for them after a day’s work.”

Spurred on by that same sense of catharsis, Zia describes the act of reading aloud his poems about being a young, working class, British, Pakistani, Muslim in London as “a release of tension. When you get on stage, that’s your space, your time.”

After watching a friend perform as part of the 16-25 year old Roundhouse Poetry Collective, Zia knew he had to join. Three terms and one fruitful year later, Zia had built himself a name on the spoken word circuit. “Spoken word is a springboard into so many different forms,” he says. “You start off with spoken word and can progress into music, stand up comedy, theatre.”

( From I-D magazine)

BARBARA POLLA

Barbara Polla began her career as a medical doctor and scientist working at Harvard and University Paris V René Descartes. She is the author of hundreds of academic papers published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, The American Journal of Physiology and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA. She was a Liberal MP in her native Switzerland, fighting for the abolition of prisons and abortion rights. Today, she is a curator and owner of the innovative gallery Analix Forever in Geneva. She has written extensively on science, art, and gender in both French and English as well as several novels and various poetic prose.

Selections from the Yearbook

Seven Sisters- Greta Bellamacina and Robert Montgomery

“You are beside me, winter trees, a comrade to the world, a home, the TV is playing war, we hope for peaceful sunlight.

A whole heart of blood, resting on a whole heart of blood”

Home —by Zia Ahmed

“looking for a shape that’s whole mera joota hai japani

home is where your heart is yeh patloon inglastani nah

home is where your heart lifts sar pae lal topi russi nah

home is where your a*se fits phir bhi dil hai nah”

Spines —by Rosalind Jana

“I don’t think this is what Woolf

meant when she talked of things

‘lit, half-way down the spine’

designating the soul’s seat

somewhere beneath the shoulder –

blades”

The Unicorns of Punjab

—by Afshan Shafi

“Impression recorded by a street peddler:

a blue and pink beast

a fettle of oxygen”

The Unicorns of Punjab

—by Afshan Shafi

Reesham landed her first commercial at the age of 8 and Her father protectively accompanied her to the shoot. By age 15, she was a radio jockey at FM 100. Throughout her college years, the young actress was actively involved in theatre and bagged the award for Best Actor at the Pakistan Theatre Festival 2005. since then, her performances in Khoat Muntazir, Ghareeb Zaadi and Dil-e-Nadan have also been praised by drama critcs. Recently, her work in Sajjad Ali’s Lagaya Dil has been making waves. Reesham lets Sana Zehra get to know her on a personal level

If you weren’t in the industry, what would you be doing right now?

I would love to host corporate events; I’d also love to interview people from politics and such.

How did you enter this field?

I entered this field at the age of 8. My teacher saw my dramatic and introduced me to her husband who was at the time running PR company, Publicis. I did my first TV commercial for Maggi Noodles and after that, there was no looking back. I thoroughly enjoyed most of the work that came my way.

What is your most loved work to date?

Muntazir

Piece of advice you received 10 years ago that is coming true now?

You need to be very persistent and need to work hard each day in order to achieve your goals.

How does your husband handle your success?

He’s been my strength. We need more men like him who takes pride in his woman’s success. 🙂

Nickname that really annoys you?

Reshma

Weirdest habit you have?

I boss people around.

One film you’ve watched more than 5 times?

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

A character you wished you would have played?

Rani Mukherjee in Black

Lipstick shade you wear most often?

Nude

Early or late?

Early

One thing you would like to change about yourself?

I think I am pretty happy the way I am.

One thing you just won’t eat?

Indian squash

Reesham admits she’s bossy

React in one word to the following:

Marriage

Blessing

Being human

Sallu bhai

Awards

Motivating

On screen romance

Chemistry

If you wake up as the following actresses what would you do?

Kareena Kapoor

I would kiss baby Taimur he is so adorable!

Sarwat Gillani

Not too sure (Laughs)

Funniest thing that happened to you recently?

After the song Lagaya Dil became a hit, people started sending me all these weird messages. I was a little taken aback from them. Some of the messages were super creepy.

Hair & makeup:

Studio Z Salon and Spa

Photography:

Arsalan Bilgrami of a.bilgrami studio

By Mahlia Lone

You cannot separate the story of Heer Ranjha from that of the author who immortalized their love in Punjabi verse, Waris Shah. The Sayyidzada was an eighteenth century Sufi poet belonging to the Chishti order who settled in Pakpattan where he is buried. Perhaps in part inspired by his youthful unrequited love for a girl, Bhag Bhari, in 1766 he wrote the intricately detailed and lengthy poem replete with realistic and charming depictions of Punjabi village life set within the greater political situation of the day. In addition, the language he used is considered a veritable “treasure-trove of Punjabi phrases, idioms and sayings” passed down to coming generations. Last but not least, Waris Shah elevated the story of romantic love into “a poetic expression of the mystical love and unrelenting quest of the human towards God,” in the Sufi tradition. Like in all fine art and literature, his masterpiece in verse works seamlessly on several different level.

Historical Background

It is widely believed that the real life lovers of Heer Ranjha lived towards the end of the Lodhi dynasty (an Afghan dynasty that ruled the Delhi Sultanate from 1451 to 1526) before Shehnshah Babur supported by Rana Sanga, the Raja of Mewar, and head of the Hindu Rajput Confederacy in Rajputana, defeated Ibrahim Lodi’s 1,000 elephant and 100,000 thousand strong men massive army at the Battle of Panipat, using muskets and artillery never before seen in the Indian Subcontinent.

The story

Born into a wealthy Kharal Jatt family belonging to the Sial tribe in Sial Sharif, Jhang, Heer (named diamond for her astonishingly good looks) grew up to be a beautiful girl. Dheedo, a Jatt of the Ranjha tribe, hailed from the village of Takht Hazara (old name Khajjiyan Wala) by the Chenab River. The youngest of four brothers, he was spoilt and cossetted being his father’s pet. Though his older brothers were kept hard at work toiling on their ancestral agricultural lands, Dheedo led a life of ease. He whiled away his time playing his bansuri (flute).

Trouble began when Dheedo’s father died, leaving his sons to divide up his land at will between them. His brothers resented Dheedo’s idle ways and thought him a fool, so they gave him barren land and their wives refused to give him food. Ranjha tried but failed to work his land, fought with his family and left his village to find his luck elsewhere.

One night, Ranjha took shelter in a masjid (mosque), and started playing his or flute to help him sleep. Soon the villagers gathered round him listening to the melodious music. The maulvi (cleric) admonished him to stop playing his flute, saying he was desecrating the mosque with the haram (not sanctioned by Islam) music. Ranjha, as he began to be known as, replied boldly that his music was not a sin compared to the hypocrisy of the so-called holy men: “You and your kind, with your beards, try to pretend to be saints, but your actions are that of the devil. You run around after women in mosques… you are like curses clinging to the house of God.” The mullah was seething but the villagers refused to back him up, as from in their hearts they agreed with Ranjha. Dumbfounded, the maulvi let him stay the night if he left the next day.

In the morning, Ranjha wandered in the direction of Jhang. Spying a large, verdant field with lush crops and cows grazing, he decided to ask the landlord for work. The owner was Chaudhry Chuchak, chief of the Sayyal clan, who hired Ranjha and housed him in the stables as a hired hand. Heer, the Chaudhry’s fair daughter, had a full moon-shaped face considered pretty at the time, shiny eyes that sparkled like precious gems, jasmine white teeth, ruby red lips and a nose as straight and sharp as Imam Hussain’s sword point. She was delicately built, yet strong and fit.

From Love to Love is a postmodern, subjective short film , available for viewing on YouTube, about a girl who discovers the tale of Heer Ranjha and starts to question what love is as portrayed in contemporary media.

The 1st Century BCE Tilla Jogian Hindu Temple And Monatic Complex
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“As a film director and a woman what pulled me towards the tale was the character of Heer, a girl living in the 16th century challenging traditions of a patriarchal society. Through her love for Ranjha, she stands against capitalism and class system prevalent in Punjab at the time. Even now, Heer is an archetype of a strong, resilient woman who stand against the status quo and epitomizes purity of love, often translated as Sufism. Heer’s tomb in Jhang, is still a symbol of love, devotion and spirituality,” said Sayeda Alina Ali, documentary filmmaker based in Lahore and an MA Graduate in Cultural & Creative Industries from King’s College London. She is an Assistant Professor at the NCA.

Heer checked out Ranjha. He had long hair, not an ounce of fat on him and was musical to boot. She was smitten. Both were at the age when one is ripe for falling in love. Always in proximity with each other and easily meeting up attended or in seclusion, “their love flourished, as did the crops.”

Years went by swiftly, with the two lovers enraptured with each other and no one discovered their feelings for each other, till one fateful day Kaido, Heer’s uncle, spotted them together canoodling. Incensed, that family respect and pride was at stake, he tattled to her parents who confronted their errant daughter. Though seemingly respectful towards them, she was a resolute and strong willed girl; she was determined that she was in love with Ranjha, their hired hand, and only he was the only man for her.

Not knowing what to do, Heer’s parents called the qazi who judged  village issues according to Sharia law. He reminded her that as a righteous Muslim girl it behooved her to respect her parents’ wishes and their honor.

Still Heer was adamant, saying that just as drugs and alcohol cannot be taken away from addicts, Ranjha could not be pried apart from her. Only Allah had that power. Holding up her hand, scarred with an iron burn, she said, “True love is like a mark that a hot iron burns onto the skin or like a spot on a mango. They never go away.”

“Ranjha, Ranjha kardi ve main aape ranjha hoyi

Ranjha, Ranjha saddo ni mainu heer na aakho koy” —A. R. Rahman

(Repeating Ranjha, Ranjha all time I myself have become Ranjha.

No one should call me Heer, call me Dheedho Ranjha.”)

Heer’s parents arranged her marriage to Saida Khairra without consulting their headstrong daughter. At the nikkah ceremony when Heer was asked by the qazi if she accepted this proposal, she defiantly replied in the negative. Frightened by the family dishonor she would bring them, her father went ahead and signed the nikaah papers anyway without his daughter’s consent. Heer declared that she was already married to Ranjha, with the nikaah witnessed by Allah and His prophets. But she was forcibly carried off by her relatives to Saida’s house in another village.

Hearing of this, instead of taking action, Ranjha started wandering aimlessly, distraught because he could not bear to think of Heer in another man’s arms. Reaching a wooded area forested with olive, pine, and Acacia trees, he met the famous Shaiva Jogi (ascetic) Gorakhnath, the founder of the Kanphata (pierced ear) sect of jogis at Tilla Jogian. The was the site of the 1st century BCE Hindu temple, monastic complex and sacred pond created, according to Hindu mythology, from the teardrops of the Hindu god Shiva and was located in the Salt Range near Bhera, Sargodha, in proximity to the Rohtas Fort, and the Katas Raj Temples.

Giving up worldly life, Ranjha too became a jogi and covered his body with ash, had several ear piercings and holding a begging bowl, went from village to village reciting “Allah hoo” and begging for food and alms. One day, he knocked unknowingly on the door of Saida’s house. Sehti, Heer’s sister-in-law, answered the door and saw the handsome, young jogi. Sehti had heard Heer’s entire story and believed that her brother had sinned by marrying an unwilling girl. Performing or participating a nikkah without the ready consent of either party she believed was haram (not sanctioned by Islam). So Sehti took it upon herself to right her brother’s wrong and help Heer escape with Ranjha.

Despite her best intentions, unfortunately, the two lovers were caught escaping by the Raja’s men who took them to their lord. The Raja appointed a qazi to deal with the trangressing lovers and the qazi decided to send Heer back to her husband.

Ranjha cursed the villagers in his fury, warning that Allah would not stand for injustice. Lo and behold the town caught fire. The townspeople and the Raja got scared of the wrath of Allah and allowed Heer Ranjha to get married and leave town together.

Heer’s parents acquiesced to the Raja’s order. But humiliated at their loss of face, Kaidu and his co-conspirators plotted to kill Heer. Ranjha returned to Takht Hazara to fetch his family for his barat (bridegroom’s wedding procession). The Sayals returned to Jhang with Heer to prepare for the wedding.

On the night of Heer Ranjhas marriage, the Sayal clan presented a basket of poisoned laddus (lentil sweetballs) to the newlyweds. Happy that her family had finally relented and had blessed her union with her beloved, just as Heer bit into a laddu, she fell down dead. Realizing what had happened; Ranjha took the half-eaten poisoned laddu from her limp hand and stuffed it into his mouth, dying next to his beloved Heer. The star crossed lovers were buried in Heer’s hometown, Jhang. Their tomb continues to be visited by sad souls seeking to marry their beloved.

The deeper meaning that Waris Shah conveyed in Ranjha’s search for Heer as a jogi was man’s quest to find and understand God. Just when he thought he had finally attained her upon the eve of their marriage, she escapes his hands through death. It signifies that the moment you think you understand Allah, your faith will be tested. It’s an unending journey to a higher self and greater undersanding.

The version with the happy ending popular in India

“According to Professor Indu Banga of the Department of History, Punjab University, in Chandigarh, India” wrote S. Conceicao “the earliest ‘kissa’ (story) in Punjabi was that of Heer-Ranjha, written by Damodar Gulati in 1605 during Akbar’s reign. His work was rewritten by Ahmad Gujjar in the 1680s and then by Shahjahan Muqbil in the second quarter of the 18th century and again by Waris Shah who built upon Muqbil’s work and the status of a classic was accorded to his 1766 composition.”

The following story has been concised by S. Conceicao and is based on folklore, transcribed from an oral rendition of the Jatts from the Patiala State, collected by R.C. Temple and published in the second volume of Legends of the Punjab in the 1880s:

Before she met Ranjha, the strong personality of Heer was illustrated by an incident. Ludan is an old ferryman employed by a landlord named Sardar Noora from the Sambal community to look after his fleet of boats, including his brand new stately river barge. One day without the landlord’s permission Ludan took some men aboard the barge. Noora was furious and publicly upbraided old Ludan who felt wrongfully disgraced after years of faithful service. When the Sardar was away from, in revenge Ludan took the flotilla and “sailed through the night like a vagabond and kept crying, ‘Is there a lord, born of a lady who can take me into his fold?’ The gentlemen heard him; silence was the response as nobody uttered a word. Why to enkindle the fire, why to start fresh feuds! It is inappropriate to do battle and get people killed for this flotilla. Hearing of Noora no one let the sailor drop anchor—.

Heer along with a bevy of girls hears the cry and acts like a mighty gracious queen, ‘cast your anchor along the side of our bank, you will not lack anything here. Who is this monster Noora, the owner of the vessels? No one can shelter you except me, the daughter of Chuchak.’”

Fearless, Heer gave the old man refuge. Sardar Noora was enraged at this incident. Summoning his friends and servants to his aid, he set off to catch and punish Ludan. On refusal of Heer’s father to return the boats and Ludan, Noora conducted a raid and to his utter surprise found females led by Heer ready to confront his party, which proved to be an even bigger disgrace for him.

When Heer’s brothers found out about the incident out they asked her in concern, “If a mishap had befallen you why didn’t you send for us?”

Without batting an eyelid she answered, “What was the need to send for all of you? Emperor Akbar had not attacked us.” This was the strength of character of the indomitable young Heer who acted defiantly in a repressive, patriarchal society.

In the story, having left his home, when Ranjha reached the banks of the River Chenab, the sun had begun to set. He asked Ludan to take him aboard and row him to the city of Jhang on the other side. But Ludan refused, thinking Ranjha was a thief who planned to rob him. Ranjha sat down on the river bank, and started to play a melancholy tune on his flute. Moved to pity, and cajoled by the young man, Ludan’s heart softened and he agreed to ferry him across.

Ranjha boarded and made himself comfortable on a luxurious red and white couch. Ludan admonished him saying the couch belonged to Heer, but Ranjha didn’t pay heed and soon fell sleep on it. The next morning, Heer and her girlfriends arrived at the river like “a hailstorm sweeps over a field.” Noticing Ranjha asleep on her couch, Heer blamed Ludan and threatened to have Ranjha beaten for his insolence. But when Ranjha opened his lovely eyes, Heer changed her mind. They spent the rest of the day together and Ranjha told Heer his life story. By the end of the day, Heer swore to be Ranjha’s forever.

The next day Heer brought Ranjha to her father, Mihr Chuchak, saying “Father, I have found someone to herd the buffaloes.” Her father was skeptical because Ranjha with his beautiful long oiled hair and smooth skin looked more like a rich man’s son than like a common herder. He hired him regardless to please his daughter. Every day, Heer brought Ranjha food that her family ate: Milk, bread, rice and sweets. They would spend as much of the day together alone in the forest as they could. Heer neglected her spinning and other household chores, and hardly saw her girlfriends.

The villagers started speculating about the mysterious buffalo herder who Mihr Chuchak’s daughter took food to and who herself oiled his long hair with a quart of ghee. The gossip reached the ears of Kaidu, Heer’s uncle, who began to lurk in the forest, trying to catch the two together.

One day Kaidu found Ranjha alone in the forest, and came up to him, pretending to be a beggar. Ranjha, remembering his days on the road when he, too, had to beg for food and shelter, gave Kaidu half a pastry, which Heer had made for him. Kaidu took the pastry and brought it before the village elders as proof of Heer’s disobedience and wanton behavior. “I have seen Heer and Ranjha in the forests, and I tell no lies. Ranjha will take away Heer, and there will be shame to the Siyals,” he said showing his proof.

The elders went to Chuchak and told him about Kaidu’s accusation. Believing in his daughter’s innocence and moral rectitude, Chuchak furiously refused to believe his brother in law, “Kaidan is a talebearer and a liar. He chases moths all day.”

Kaidan then went to his sister, Heer’s mother, urging her to use her influence to ward off the scandal. Chuchak finally called Ranjha to him one night after he had returned with the buffaloes dismissed him from his service.

“For twelve years, I have tended your buffalo and now you turn me away without wages!” Ranjha threw his staff down, turned on his heel and left.

They say you can never please everyone. The villagers now started criticizing Chuchak for dismissing Ranjha without even paying him his  wages. Heer was also crying inconsolably. Chuchak relented and took Ranjha back into his service and before 70 Khans and 72 nobles Chuchak betrothed Heer to Ranjha, saying: “As long as thou shalt live, she is thine, and when thou art dead she will not deny it. If anyone tears Heer from thee I will bear witness against him in the Court of God.”

Heer’s mother and uncle were not appeased however and brought Heer before the qazi who reminded her of her duty to respect her family and honour their standing in the village. But Heer refused to give up her buffalo herder, citing, “As wine-bibbers cannot desert the bottle, as opium-eaters cannot be without their drug, so I cannot live without Ranjha.”

The qazi finally told the Siyals that Heer was too stubborn, and to avoid further scandal they should marry her off right away. The Siyals called a clan meeting. Chuchak’s decision to let his daughter be married to the herder was overruled. Even if the buffalo herder was actually a Ranjha of Takht Hazara, he was from too lowly a family to marry a Siyal. Instead, the family decided to marry Heer off to Saida, of the Khera clan.

On the day of the wedding ceremony Heer refused to say, “Kabul hai” (I accept) when asked if she gave her permission for the nikkah to be performed by the maulvi. Instead the bold girl cried out that she had been betrothed to Ranjha and that their union had been blessed by Heaven and the saints. ”Muhammad (PBUH) formed the marriage procession and Brahma set up the posts of the marriage canopy. The angels sang songs of rejoicing and fairies brought the henna. The Panj Pir (Five Saints) performed the ceremony and the Khizar was the witness.”

Not heeding her cries, Heer’s parents signed the marriage papers, and the Kheras took Heer back to Saida’s house in Rangpur.

A heartbroken Ranjha had returned to his native village of Takht Hazara, but couldn’t forget his lady love. So he set off to search for her. On the way, he crossed Tilla Jogian, the temple where the jogi Gorakh Nath lived. Bowing before him, Ranjha asked to become a jogi, but Gorakh Nath doubted that Ranjha had the humble nature and ascetism of a true jogi. Ranjha stole the jogi’s conch with which he called his followers for their evening meal and buried it, committing it to the care of Mother Earth and Khizar. Without the conch, Gorakh Nath couldn’t summon his jogis and feared they would keep waiting for their call and thus starve. To prevent this, Gorakh Nath agreed to let Ranjha become a jogi. Ranjha dug up the conch and blew it, once to the east and once to the west, to summon the jogis to their meal. Gorakh Nath rubbed Ranjha with ashes, shaved his head, pierced his ears, and gave him a begging bowl. He told Ranjha, “Call the young women ‘sister’ and the married women ‘mother.’ Beg throughout the city and bring no shame on the profession of begging.”

Ranjha threw away the begging bowl and earrings and rubbed off the ashes. He didn’t want to call Heer either his mother or his sister.

“I was right about you!” exclaimed the guru.

Ranjha laughed at him, “We Jatts are cunning — we use all means to get what we want. What can I do with a beggar’s bowl, whose heart is set only on plowing? How can I call her ‘mother’ for whose sake I would become a jogi?”

At first, the guru was angry, but soon he realized that Ranjha was deeply and desperately in love. Moved to pity, he blessed him and prayed that he would achieve his heart’s desire.

Gorakh Nath sent his crow to search for Heer. The crow flew from town to town, from house to house, until it arrived in Rangpur and found Heer, wasting away in Saida Khera’s house. The crow talked to Heer and told her of Ranjha’s faithfulness to her. Then the crow returned to Tilla, bringing news of Heer’s whereabouts to Ranjha. He set off for Rangpur, dressed as a jogi, begging at each village. In Rangpur, all the women flocked to the beautiful young jogi and poured out their troubles to him. They complained about their in-laws, husbands, neighbors, etc. Ranjha listened sympathetically and patiently and counseled the women. He also kept looking for Khera’s pretending to be begging for alms. When Heer’s sister-in-law Sehti answered the door, she saw Heer’s and Ranjha’s reactions when they saw each other. Putting two and two together, she agreed to help them if they would help her escape and join her lover, a Balochi camel driver named Murad.

Together the two wily women made a plan. Heer cut her foot as the two women walked in the garden, and pretended that she had been bitten by a snake. Sehti told the family that Ranjha was a wise jogi who could cure her. Saida brought him to their house and Ranjha pretended to cure Heer of her pretend snakebite. The couple planned their escape. Sehti asked to go with them, and begged Ranjha to help her find Murad. Ranjha blew on his conch. The sound reached far and wide. Murad heard it as he slept. He dreamt that Sehti had called him, asking him to come to her. When he woke up, Murad set out at once for Rangpur.

The following Sunday night in June, the three escaped and met Murad who put Sehti on his camel and crossed the River Chenab. Heer and Ranjha fled to Qabula, the city where Raja Adali ruled.

When the next morning their escape was discovered, the Khera men set off to find them. Murad and Sehti had made it safely back to Murad’s Balochi tribe who drove back their Khera pursuers. Heer and Ranjha weren’t so lucky however. The Kheras captured them and beat Ranjha unmercifully. They brought him before Raja Adali, demanding that Ranjha be put to death.

Heer’s uncle Kaidu testified against Ranjha, while her father Chuchak testified on his behalf pleading that he had betrothed Heer to Ranjha, “I tell no lies. Before 70 Khans and 72 nobles I gave Heer to Ranjha. Ranjha grazed my buffaloes for 12 years and took no pay at all from me. My brethren thrust him away, and seizing Heer married her to the Kheras. If there be a lie in this ask Heer: She is in thy Court. If there be a lie in this may I be punished in the Court of God.”

Raja Adali called Heer to the stand. When she walked into the court, unveiled, Adali saw how beautiful she was and said to Ranjha: “Thou too art a liar: Heer was first of all betrothed to me!”

He took Heer to his palace to make her his. Heer prayed to God for protection. When Adali came to her bed that night, he burst into flames. But he managed to save his life by dousing himself with water.

Meanwhile, Ranjha played his flute in supplication to heaven. “The sound of the flute reached Mecca and 70 saints came from there. The sound of the flute reached Multan and the five saints came from there. The sound of the flute also brought the Mother, the Goddess Durga, on her lion to Ranjha. At the sound of the flute came Sakhi Sarwar the Warrior, galloping up on his mare Kakki. At the sound of the flute came Hanuman, the leader, with his army. The army cut down the garden of Adali and left not a tree remaining….All the saints collected took burning logs and set fire to Adali’s city. Burning went Adali into the reservoirs and water was thrown over the people. And when the water reached the fire it blazed forth twofold!”

The Raja’s advisors told him to return Heer to Ranjha and save the city. Raja Adali sent for Ranjha and agreed to marry him to Heer. In gratitude, Ranjha blew on his conch, and the goddess Indra made it rain. Raja Adali himself gave Heer a way to Ranjha, and the entire city attended the wedding.

Ranjha married his Heer because God willed it. Raja Adali stopped taking bribes and became a just ruler. All the people in Adali’s city lived in happiness. The two lovers rode away into the sunrise, and (like Sehti and Murad) lived happily ever after.

Mehreen Arshad tells Mahlia Lone how she helps children with special needs, with learning disabilities and those who have been sexually abused

What’s your background?

I have a Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis, a branch of Psychology from USA. My specialization is Developmental Disabilities, and Organizational Behavior Management. I also have research experience in working with children who have been sexually abused and children in foster homes. I worked for a number of years in the U.S. before moving to Pakistan and taking the initiative to open a non-profit, center-based program providing treatment to children with special needs.

What kind of therapies does your clinic provide?

Therapies provided at the clinic are based on evidence-based best practices in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). In other words, only therapies, which have been proven by research to be effective in the field of ABA, are implemented. Home-based services are also available now in order to maximize the number of therapy hours provided to clients.

Are there any other services provided by your clinic?

Another thing I focus on is staff training. Since ABA is not offered as a program in Pakistan as yet at the graduate or doctoral level, new hires have to be taught everything from the very basics. I also provide training and supervision at clinic sites that are out of Pakistan. I recently visited an autism clinic in Indonesia to provide staff training. It was an eye-opening experience because it made me realize just how much there is a lack of effective treatments available in other nations worldwide. While it is important to give back to our own community in Pakistan, I think it is also impertinent that we help out people in other nations; this will make us proud Pakistanis!

Moreover, in August 2018, I am launching a training program for practitioners, students, and parents that will focus on teaching treatment strategies for children with developmental disabilities with hands-on training.  This training program will also include workshops for teenagers on topics such as child sexual abuse and domestic violence.

“Applied Behavior Analysis is not offered as a program in Pakistan as yet at the graduate or doctoral level”

What are some signs that should alert parents that their child may have special needs?

A child can now be placed at risk as early as birth even though a formal diagnosis is not provided until a few years later. Early risk factors include poor or lack of the following: Eye contact; gaze shifting in which the infant looks at the caregiver and then at an object in the environment that the caregiver is pointing at; joint attention in which the infant and the caregiver share attention on an object such as a toy. Therefore, treatment can begin as early as infancy in which infant reflexes and skills are targeted.

Children may also have motor skill deficits, such as a weak grasp. Children with a developmental delay or disability also have language delays. They may not speak a lot of words or sentences.

How do you help these children?

Firstly, I encourage parents to get their child assessed as early as possible since early intervention has the best treatment outcomes. Through behavioral assessment, skill deficits are identified, which then become the goal of treatment. Since every child is different, individualized treatment plans are then developed and implemented. The goal of treatment is to bring these children up to the functioning level of their peers so that they may become independent and integrated in the community.

Is parent involvement important in the treatment of children?

Parent involvement is an integral part of treatment. I conduct parent training with the caregivers or anyone in the child’s home who spends a significant amount of time with the child. It is important that parents are taught to implement treatment protocols with their child as well in the home as that is where the child is spending most of the time.

Which are some schools you work with?

In the past I have conducted workshops at Beaconhouse National University and Government College. I also conduct teacher training for clients upon request. It is important to ensure that the child is getting the required support at the school.

What are the different challenges in children that your clinic addresses?

Treatment is available for children with speech and/or developmental delays, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Mental Retardation. Children with the mentioned diagnosis usually have behavior problems such as stereotypic behaviors in which the child repetitively engages in an action such as hand flapping. Treatment protocols are put in place that target these behaviors. Moreover, there are other 7 other major domains in which skill deficits occur: Language & Communication, Social Skills, Play Skills, Gross & Fine Motor, Cognitive/Academic, Self-Care, and Community Involvement. Treatment plans that are put in place address challenges that children face in all these areas.

I would also like to add that sometimes a child is developing normally but may start losing previously learned skills. This is termed regression; so, as a parent, if you notice that your child doesn’t talk so much anymore or is not interacting with you or others then you should definitely get your child assessed.

“There is a correlation between cousin marriages and the children being born with birth defects and/or a disability that has a genetic link (such as Down Syndrome)”

Do you see more developmental problems with children due to cousin marriages?

There is a correlation between cousin marriages and the children being born with birth defects and/or a disability that has a genetic link (such as Down Syndrome). The prevalence of autism is 4 times greater in boys than girls so there is definitely a genetic link although there is no known cause of autism as yet. There are also certain environmental factors (such as lack of a nourishing environment and infant-caregiver interaction) that may play a role in the child developing a problem.

Is ADHD a myth or a reality? Do you train teachers and counselors at schools on how to handle it? Should parents put their children on drugs like Ritalin or are there exercises they can do to help the kids focus on task at hand?

ADHD is not a myth; however, I do not recommend putting young children on medication as it impairs learning. Behavior problems that children, adolescents, and even adults with ADHD have can be managed with behavioral interventions. ABA-based interventions are available for teachers in schools that can help manage behavior problems associated with ADHD.

In your opinion, what issue affects the most children in Pakistan?

Well, if I’m to mention the prevalence of autism then I would say it affects 1 in 88 children in USA. Although there has been no research conducted in Pakistan on its prevalence, I would say the rate is approximately the same. It’s difficult to pinpoint what issue affects children the most here as a lot of times children also get misdiagnosed in Pakistan and families also tend to hide the fact that their child has a certain problem due to social stigma.

Just to give an example of this I’d like to mention that child sexual abuse occurs in 1 in every 5 girls and 1 in every 7 boys approximately worldwide. These high rates are present in the U.S. as well, where there is a lot of awareness and legal repercussions on this issue. A lot of issues that children or teenagers face are not even reported in Pakistan.

I would also like to add that raising awareness is not always effective unless it is followed by a plan of action. If the goal of an awareness campaign is to just add to someone’s knowledge then that can be easily achieved, but if the long-term goal is to bring about a change then running an awareness campaign is not enough.

What about school stress–how does that affect children?

A small amount of stress is sometimes good for children, especially in school where homework has to be submitted on time and children need to prepare for exams. Every child’s stress threshold is different. What children need to be taught is how to manage stress so there is equilibrium in their life between positive and negative or stressful situations. Extreme stress can cause children to either act out or to withdraw into a shell and avoid social interactions. Stress can also affect children’s health, for example, a loss of appetite may occur.

What are simple measures parents can do that improve the emotional well-being of their child?

Parents should engage in positive interactions with their child and also participate in activities that the child enjoys. The trick is to find a balance between stress and positive activities for the child. Also, parents should recognize areas of strength of their child and encourage those instead of imposing on the child to excel in an area that might not be the child’s greatest strength. The parent should also encourage positive social interactions of their child among peers. Having an open communication environment in the home is very important. In this way, if the child is facing a problem then he/she is likely to reach out to the parent for help. There are certain stress management techniques that the parent can teach their child too.

“In August 2018, I am launching a training program for practitioners, students, and parents that will focus on teaching treatment strategies for children with developmental disabilities with hands-on training”

You only deal with children 2-12. What about troubled teenagers who are challenged plus have hormones compounding their problems?

Yes, my area of focus is on children with developmental disabilities up to the age of 12. To help teenagers, there is a large amount of parent and community involvement that is required. Unfortunately, that is not available so much in Pakistan at the moment due lack of university programs that can provide variety of specializations that target a specific population. I continue to provide current clients/parents with on-going support and consultation even beyond the age of 12.

Take home message:

Denial of a problem only sets the child back. The best recommendation is to start intervention as soon as the parent sees concerns. Waiting takes away time you’ll never get back. Time is of essence for children. Pre-established behaviors are difficult to change once they have been constantly reinforced. Best time to support children is when they are small and behaviors are easier to change.

By SFK Bridals

By Afshan Shafi

Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan indulge our senses with their sizzling chemistry for couturier Sadaf Khan’s creations!

Photography: Faiza Murad

Makeup (Fawad): Shamal Qureshi

Makeup (Mahira): Biancahartkopf

Location: Bab-ul-shams resort Dubai

Brand: SFKbridal

 

Ahsan Khan began his career in show business as a teenager and, in a span of two decades, emerged as one of Pakistan’s biggest stars, making a huge name for himself in the world of cinema, theater and television. In an exclusive interview for Good Times, the popular actor, host, model and occasional writer talks to Ally Adnan about his past and upcoming projects, his newfound love for Urdu literature, minority rights in Pakistan, Ramzan television programming, his fondness of qawwali, and a lot else.

Your last television serial – the phenomenally successful Udaari – aired in 2016. Why have you not appeared in a television play since Udaari?

Udaari, as you say, was phenomenally successful. It propelled me to the upper echelon of actors with superior acting.  I could no longer turn in performances that were less than competent without disappointing my fans, people in the industry, and, most importantly, myself.

I, therefore, had to put a lot of thought and consideration into selecting acting projects for myself after Udaari. It took a while but I am now working in two serials – Miriam Pereira and Aangan – that will be aired soon. I believe that my performances in both are as good, if not better than, the one in Udaari.

What attracted you to Miriam Pereira?

Miriam Pereira deals with the issue of minority rights in Pakistan. The subject is very near and dear to my heart. Our country is home to people of many faiths but, as a nation, we have yet to learn how to treat them with love, respect and equality. It is important that all citizens of Pakistan be given the same rights.

“People of all religions and faiths need to be shown in the media in a responsible, positive and fair manner”

The country’s founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, had envisioned a secular, tolerant country in which everyone would enjoy religious freedom. Sadly, his vision has been hijacked and not been allowed to become a reality.

I am not an expert on religion and don’t pretend to be one on my show, Ramzan Pakistan.

Who hijacked Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan?

Political, religious and business leaders, each for their own nefarious purposes, have laid waste to Jinnah’s vision. They have all helped create a corrosive sense of nationalism that allows the systematic and widespread mistreatment of people who are not Muslims. This is sad and totally against the fundamental beliefs of Islam.

In an Islamic society, Muslims are accorded no special privileges and have the same rights as people of other faiths. Religion is not allowed to become the basis of discrimination of any sort. That is the society that all of us need to help create in Pakistan.

What is your view of Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy and anti-Ahmedi laws?

I believe that though it’s necessary to have laws that protect the honor of the Prophet (may peace be upon him) and the sanctity of Islamic beliefs. At the same time, it is important to make sure that the laws are not used for harassment, murder, intimidation, abuse, and censorship. The interpretation, implementation and execution of the laws should be reviewed regularly to make sure that they are being used to protect the honor of the Prophet (may peace be upon him) and Islamic beliefs and not for other purposes.

The key to the success of sections 295, 296, 297, and 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code lies in the correct, just and fair implementation of the laws.

Do you feel that Miriam Pereira  will help the cause of Christians in Pakistan?

Yes, I do. It is little steps like making this serial that will help mainstream Christians in our society. People of all religions and faiths need to be shown in the media in a responsible, positive and fair manner.

I feel that viewers will enjoy Miriam Pereira because of its authentic and accurate representation of our society. Emmad Irfani, Sadia Khan, Rasheed Naz, Seemi Raheel, and Laila Zuberi have acted really well in the serial.

And you?

I think I have done well too but, to be honest, mine is only one of the several good performances in Miriam Pereira.

Aangan  is currently being shown on ARY Digital  but you are not a part of the cast. Will your character appear in the serial at a later stage?

The play that is being aired on ARY Digital is not the one that I am working in. Mine has the same name and is being made by Momina Duraid Productions for Hum TV. It is based on Khadija Mastoor’s 1962 novel Aangan. I think its title may be changed to Khadija Mastoor’s Aangan for purposes of disambiguation.

Ahsan’s upcoming serial Aangan is set at the time
of Partition and deals with the lives of ordinary people who made immense sacrifices
to gain independence from the British

Khadija Mastoor’s novel deals with a lot of themes – culture, morality, politics, feminism, and religion, to name a few – in addition to romantic love, which is at the center of its story. What aspects of the novel are highlighted in the television serial?

In my opinion, Mohammed Ehteshamuddin has made Aangan less as a romance, and more as a chronicle of our political, moral and cultural history. It is a poignant – and heart-wrenching – portrayal of the Partition of the Indian Subcontinent. Instead of focusing on the lives of political leaders and freedom fighters, the serial deals with the lives of people who were affected, in more ways than one, by the partition and who made immense sacrifices to gain independence from the British.

What do you like about Aangan?

I like the manner in which women have been depicted in Aangan. The female characters of the novel are complex and real, written with a lot of insight, understanding and intelligence. Aangan’s story is a highly intelligent account of feminism in South Asia. It pits a woman’s desire to be independent against her need to love and nurture and highlights the strengths and weaknesses of feminist ideology; it also shows how women deal with adversity, pain and failure in a way that men cannot. I am fascinated by Khaidija Mastoor’s intelligent exploration of the female psyche in Aangan.

Were you familiar with Khadija Mastoor’s work before starting work on Aangan?

I was not, but became a huge fan of her writing after reading Aangan. She is an incredible writer. I learnt a lot about history and culture by reading her novel, which is is a literary tour deforce. I am not surprised that it has been translated into13 languages.

“Aangan’s story is a highly intelligent account of feminism in South Asia”

I am now reading Zameen and have already purchased Bochaar, Chand Roz Aur, Khail, Thakay Haaray, and Thanda Meetha Paani to read once I am done with Zameen. Khadija Mastoor has introduced me to the wonderful world of Urdu literature. A few Urdu books will now always be on my bedside.  There is no going back for me.

Do you play the role of Safdar in Aangan?

Yes, I do. It is a double role that gave me a lot of room to explore as an actor. I am satisfied with my performance. Sonya Hussain and Mawra Hocane play the roles of Salma and Aaliya. The cast also includes Sajal Aly, Ahad Raza Mir, Omair Rana, Abid Ali, Uzma Hassan, and Zeb Rehman.

Child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, transgenderism, and minority rights – Pakistani television seems to have come of age and become comfortable with tackling, heretofore, taboo subjects.

Yes, the number of topics being explored in television dramas has expanded.

You seem tentative in your praise. Are you not happy that television channels are now addressing issues that have historically been swept under the rug?

I am happy but concerned that a lot the “taboo subjects” are being explored with a desire to shock and not to break new ground.

Khadija Mastoor novel has been translated into 13 languages

What kept you busy between Udaari and the two upcoming serials?

A whole lot. I started work on a book about child sexual abuse. I expect it to be published in the fall. It’s a collection of my feelings, thoughts and experiences while working on Udaari.

I made my stage debut with Serendip’s production of Ishq – the Legend of Heer Ranjha, at the prestigious Saddler’s Wells Theater in London, in 2017. The musical was a collaboration between Pakistani and British artists. It afforded me an opportunity to sing, dance and act – the three things that I enjoy more than anything else in life. Ishq – the Legend of Heer Ranjha was received very well.

I hosted Knorr Noodles Boriyat Busters on GEO Television. It was a game show for children that allowed contestants to compete for prizes by participating in a number of physical activities. I believe that it was the first time a game show had been made solely for kids. I had a lot of fun hosting the show.

I starred in Mohsin Ali’s feature film Chupan Chupai, which was both a critical and a commercial success and earned more than PKR Seventy million  in its first week. I enjoyed working in the light-hearted fun comedy and am glad that it was a success.

I wrote and produced a short documentary about Zainab Ansari, the six-year-old Pakistani girl who was raped and murdered in Qasur. It is now complete and will be shown at festivals all over the world. The documentary, titled Candle in the Wind, took a lot of time, emotion and energy. I felt connected to the project at multiple levels, as a father, a Muslim, a Pakistani and a human being.

And, as in previous years, I hosted the Ramzan Pakistan show on Pakistan Television in 2017 and 2018. It is a very demanding show but I like doing it. It does very well in ratings.

Is the show Ramzan Pakistan or Ramadan Pakistan?

The show is conducted in Urdu and not in Arabic. It is, therefore, Ramzan Pakistan.

The Ramzan  transmissions of Pakistani television channels recently came under the heavy criticism of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui. Was the criticism justified?

I don’t get to watch the Ramzan transmissions of other television channels because my show on PTV keeps me very busy but have seen bits and pieces on YouTube and social media. I have liked some of what I have seen but am mostly dismayed by the activities that are a part of most of the shows. I think they are inappropriate for Ramzan. I find the criticism of the court largely justified.

Justice Siddiqui was unhappy that, while foreign experts were hired to provide detailed analyses during cricket matches, artists and cricketers were asked to speak on matters of religion in Ramzan television shows.

Yes, I am aware of his feelings.

Do you share his feelings?

I don’t think that religious clerics and scholars should be the only ones allowed to talk to about religion. People of faith, who study Islam with responsibility, have a right to discuss and talk about religion. That being said, I will add that competent religious clerics and scholars do a lot of research and study religion in great depth and with a lot of intelligence. It is best that they lead discussions about serious religious matters.

Ahsan made his stage debut with the musical Ishq – the Legend of Heer Ranjha, at the prestigious Saddler’s Wells Theater in London, in 2017

A lot of the “show business” hosts of Ramzan programs act with a lot of arrogance and take it upon themselves to guide, educate and lead viewers in matters of religion. Do you find their didacticism annoying?

Yes, I do but the problem is not limited to people hosting shows in Ramzan. Everyone in Pakistan acts like an expert – and not just in matters of religion – irrespective of his education, knowledge and scholarship. I host Ramzan Pakistan with a lot of humility using a different approach. My role in the program is that of a student and a facilitator. I facilitate religious discussions in my program, participate only when confident, and learn whenever possible. I am not an expert on religion and do not pretend to be one in my show, Ramzan Pakistan.

You have hosted Ramzan Pakistan on PTV for six straight years. Do you enjoy hosting the show?

I enjoy hosting the show a great deal even though it is very demanding and draining physically. It is not easy to talk, almost non-stop, for, a full six hours, while fasting.

What do you enjoy about the show?

I like four things:

One, I am paid very well to host the show. It is great to be able to make a living by doing something one likes to do.

Two, I learn a lot about religion in the show and find the learning to be truly invaluable.

Three, I receive a lot of blessings and prayers from the audience and from viewers. The duas (prayers) make me very happy.

Four, I love the qawwalis that are performed during the show. It is one of my favourite segments of the show.

Are you a qawwali aficionado?

Yes, absolutely. It brings together music, poetry, Sufism, mysticism, and Islamic thought in the most remarkable manner. I can listen to qawwali all day and all night.

Who are your favourite qawwals?

Without a doubt, Fareed Ayaz – Abu Muhammad Qawwal and Brothers. They are direct descendants of the very first qawwal in the world – the thirteenth century Miyan Samat Bin Ibrahim – and, in my opinion, the best qawwals in the world today. I love their sons, Ghayoor – Moiz – Mustafa Qawwal and Brothers as well. The two are, however, not the only qawwal parties that I like. Pakistan and India are home to a very large number of highly talented qawwals. I listen to all of them.

“It’s not easy to talk, almost non-stop, for, a full six hours, while fasting”

Now that Ramzan  is over and the shooting for both Aangan and Miriam Pereira is almost complete, what are you doing?

I am recovering from the grueling schedule of Ramzan and spending quality time with my family. I am in the final stages of talks for two projects – one for cinema and the other for television – that will hit the floor soon. I will announce them as soon as I sign the contracts. I am also planning to work in a stage play named Rang E Rihaii which follows the structure established by A. R. Gurney in his play, Love Letters. The play unfolds in a series of letters, written by two friends, over the course of several years and deals with the emotional, physical and sexual abuse of women in a novel and interesting way.

Photographs by Haseeb Siddiqui

Ally Adnan lives in Dallas and writes about culture, history and the arts. He tweets @allyadnan and can be reached at [email protected].

Who? Nina J. Khan

Why? We love the fashion designer’s soft makeup, tousled waves and well tailored outfit

Who? Zainab Malik

Why? The publisher is in an eye-catcing kaftan in the colour of the moment, yellow

Who? Sara Irfan

Why? The socialite has donned a beautiful Indian kurta and that glitzy Chanel bag doesn’t hurt either

Who? Asad Zaman

Why? He’s bringing 80s Miami Vice fashion back all by himself

Who? Lubna 

Why? Because a sari is always elegant

Who? Sana

Why? What a pretty suit! The Chloe bag and Dior heels are on trend as well

Mahlia S. Lon

Despite the heat and the power cuts, Ramzan has become a festive season here to be celebrated. Perhaps we have started emulating Middle Eastern tradition. Regardless of the reason, it’s definitely a step in the right direction. This year, people got creative regarding evening Iftari and night time Sehri dos, as you will see in this issue. Waking up refreshed after a long siesta post work, those fasting came alive after breaking their fast. Gyms around the country were thronged in the late evenings all the way up to 1 a.m. Bazaars and restaurants were similarly pulsating with energetic revelers making the most of the twilight of their evenings.

To help entertain you during Eid holidays, this issue’s Memorable Romance features Heer Ranjha, the tragic lovers immortalized by Waris Shah in his epic Punjabi poem. While I was researching the story, I discovered that the folkloric version popular in India that predates Shah’s literary work has a happy ending. Apparently, Waris based his own retelling of the tale on the unrequited love of his own youth and man’s eternal quest for the love and understanding of Allah according to Sufi traditions. Coincidentally, actor and TV host, Ahsan Khan portrayed Ranjha on the stage of the historic Sadler’s Well Theatre in London last year and recounts his experience in this issue as well.

All fun and games aside, children are a gift of God. And it’s very painful for parents to see their children in need and they being unable to help them. Mehreen Arshad, armed with a Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis with a specialization in Developmental Disabilities from the U.S, is holding a workshop this August in Lahore for parents of children with special needs and learning disabilities, instructing them how they can help their children cope and give them essential life skills.

Bringing you not just entertainment, but useful information, I give you the latest issue of GT. Hope you like it

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