After a series of speculations and schedule challenges, the 10th Karachi Literature Festival (KHILF19) finally kicked off this weekend at a hotel in Karachi. Inopportunely, the first day faced some minor hiccups in the form of the absence of the guests of honour, Deborah Baker and I.A Rehman. Nevertheless, the event carried on with some enlightening sessions with discussions that much-needed for today’s literary minds.
In a session on Pakistani cinema, keynote speakers like Munawar Saeed, Asif Raza Mir, Fizza Ali, and Yasir Hussain shed light on the golden era of films. Fahad Mustafa and Mehwish Hayat were also scheduled to attend the event, but failed to do so. And interestingly, Saeed expressed his let-down over the actors not showing up.
“I was informed that [they] would come, and I am deeply disappointed that they did not,” he said, while making an exemplar of other actors who showed up, like Hussain. It was also joked how Hayat did not show up because Humayun Saeed was not a part of the event.
While in discussion on Pakistani cinema, Saeed also shed some light on how the release date of films should not matter in terms of its success. And that the film would garner the attention it deserves, provided it is good enough. While giving the example of Aan (1973) and another Anwar Kamal Pasha film, he stated how the films acquired noteworthy success despite being put up in cinemas together.
In addition to that, the subject of item songs was also stirred. Dawar Mehmood, who is directing Anwar Maqsood’s upcoming play Naach Na Jaane, questioned the need for item numbers in films, when they clearly revolve around the objectification of women. Fizza Ali shrewdly responded to this query, illuminating how item numbers are not a recent development, and have been a part of local cinema since its advent.
“Item numbers have been prevailing since the beginning. Only the term ‘item number’ is Indian, but dance routines have always been part of Pakistani cinema, and the culture. However, the way they are being portrayed is a separate issue. A responsible filmmaker should have his own stance on the way these songs are sensualized. Hence, saying that we don’t let go of item songs is futile, as music and dance will remain a part of our culture,” she said.
All in all, it was an adequate start to a much-anticipated festival, which leaves everyone curious about what it has to offer in the remaining two days.