Mediations of the Self in Pakistan’s Popular Visual Culture




In the recent times, I had been having these wonderful conversations with various friends and academics about the media in Pakistan and I thought it maybe useful to bring everyone together for a meaningful discussion. So  on November 20th 2015, I organized this event titled ‘Mediations of the Self in Pakistan’s Popular Visual Culture’ at the New York University’s department of Media, Culture and Communication . Among the participants were various academics like S. Akbar Zaidi, Tahira Naqvi, Afiya Zia and media related personalities like Mehreen Jabbar, Saad Khan and Arooj Aftab,  who were kind enough to take their time out to join our discussion. Also attending was Sheeba Khan a reporter from Hip Pakistan, who covered the event here. Continue reading


‘Wali’ as the quintessential Pakistani hero ?

Osman Khalid Butt as Wali in Diyar-e-Dil                                     Osman Khalid Butt as Wali in ‘Diyar-e-Dil’

This article was also published  here at

As the year 2015 comes to an end, it may be relevant to ask who and what the quintessential ‘Pakistani hero’ is or should be. At this point in time, Pakistani dramas seem to have gained universal outreach and accessibility around the globe. Not only is Pakistani content being aired internationally on Pakistani media houses but also on major South Asian networks like Star Plus and Zee TV. In this context, it seems relevant to analyse the traits and qualities which stand out among popular Pakistani characters or which seem to define the arche-typical Pakistani hero in recent productions.

So at a recent event held at NYU we wanted to discuss who and what the symbolic new Pakistani hero would be, given the current assortment of popular heros that one comes across on Pakistani television. In our search for the ultimate Pakistani hero, the media bandwagon trail led us to the wildly popular character of Wali in Diyar e Dil . Given all the recent hype about Diyar-e-Dil, the play’s plot and character portrayals seem very useful and appropriate to frame the conversation about how such popular on-screen characters contribute to the notions of self hood and translate into meaning making in public culture in Pakistan.  Continue reading

Pakistani Women: Vamps or Victims?

So in connection with our ‘Mediations of the Self’ event at NYU, we had asked some female artists in Pakistan their views about women’s representations in the visual media and the role that women are playing in the media themselves. Among the others we chose to incorporate  Hareem Farooq and Salma Hasan’s replies, as they were most relevant to our discussion. Both speak out against the ‘woman as a victim’ trope t seems to have captured the imagination of most production elite in Pakistan presently. Continue reading

‘Love, War and Other Longings’

The ‘Harvard-Brown Pakistani Film Festival 2015’ to take place at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts from Oct 16-18th. The introductory excerpt from the festival literature :

” The recent revival of cinema in Pakistan has generated excitement and captured the imagination.  Film, like the nation-state, stands at a crossroads, and is invested with hope and aspirations towards a future that leaves the seemingly unending violence and militancy of the past decades receding into the distance. The magical qualities of film with its capacity to orchestrate our emotions and sensibilities, to conjure up fictions that become part of our reality, to transform the mundane into the extraordinary symbolizes this collective yearning for a new dawn.  A new generation of filmmakers ranging from the conventional to the experimental are exploring the possibilities of re-imagining family, friendship, love, the nation, and retelling ways of injustice and suffering. Love, War and Other Longings is an invitation to come and participate in these new narrations, to explore their possibilities and examine their implications. What kind of future is envisaged and what representations of the past does it require? What is being celebrated and who is being left out? Continue reading

An Impromptu Concert….14 Aug, 2015

Imagine….. randomly having coffee with friends at a mall and hearing, out of the blue, a voice that sounds suspiciously like Ali Azmat‘s. Well, that’s what just happened to us today at the Dolmen Mall in Karachi. One of the perks of being in Karachi around 14th August is, I guess, that you inadvertently gatecrash a live impromptu independence day concert (courtesy HBL Pakistan) by some of the notable musicians in the country! Accompanying Ali Azmat were musicians Gumby (Louis J Pinto) and Omran (Momo) Shafique of the Coke Studio fame,  and many others who I didn’t recognize. Continue reading