Archive for the ‘Language & Literature’ Category

Gear up & Grab your Camera – FiLUMS 2011 is here

Film, whether amateur, commercial or art, is one of the most powerful media in terms of depicting a society’s values and current thinking. From Hollywood to Bollywood to Iranian cinema, this medium has been used to highlight issues pertinent to a society’s existence while many a time, also used as a tool for propaganda and diplomacy.

With the fall of Pakistani cinema from grace over the years, there have been a few platforms for amateur film-makers to experiment and present their art to a thinking audience. Kara Film Festival was a beacon of hope that, to some extent, brought Pakistani artists, directors and documentary makers into limelight. While an impressive achievement in its own right, Kara is still far off to many amateur artists who cannot afford the budget or time to cope with the frenzy of such a film festival.

Then came FiLUMS; the landmark event of LUMS Media Arts Society, that provided a reachable platform to budding film-makers regardless of their backgrounds, nature of subjects of interest and any budgetary constraints. Since it’s inception in 2006, FiLUMS has been a regular occurrence that grows even bigger and better with each passing year.

This year, FiLUMS is gearing to be the biggest and the best to date with entries from as far as Turkey, Serbia, Abu Dhabi, Ireland and the United States. Along with film premiers and screenings, the three-day festival (February 11 – 13, 2011) will feature workshops and talks judged by the likes of Adeel Hashmi, Ayesha Khan, Omar Khan, Bilal Lashari, Fasi Zaka, Syed Noor, Adil Sher and many more.

Highlight of the event will be the award night at the third and final day of the festival on February 13, 2011.

Participation Procedure:

“Participants can register through the revolutionary submission system, known as Withoutabox (a division of IMDb), which is used by major festivals around the world. Alternatively, they can also register through our Standard Procedure, where participants are required to fill in a brief Online Registration Form available on the website by 15th January 2011. Once your film is ready, download the Submission Details Form and submit it to Finally, the submission DVD’s of the participants must reach us before 1st February 2011.”


– Short Films

– Animations

– Documentaries

– Feature Length Films

– Any other creative exception

Festival Proceedings:

Refer to the FiLUMS schedule here.



Register for FiLUMS at:

Email at:

Call for Registrations and Submissions at: +92-347-5189196

Facebook Support Group:

Follow FiLUMS at Twitter:

TEDxLahore – collective optimism, over and all!

31st of August, 2010 saw TEDxLahore return to the city with a whole new spirit. From the jam-packed Ali Auditorium to a comprehensive list of speakers, the experience was quite enriching and motivating for almost everyone who attended the talks. One can easily say that TEDxLahore’s second year with the theme of ‘Collective Genius’ was far bigger and better than the first one.

Some 380 people were handpicked from more than a thousand applicants and all of them showed up! There were students, educationists, trainers, professionals, bloggers; people belonging to a very diverse and interesting group of individuals. Although some of the enthusiastic crowd was present at the venue two hours in advance of the planned timing, the event kicked off a bit late due to bad weather. The stage design was sleek and impressive, hats off to the people behind it. Same was the case with audio system provided by Bose, which apart from slight glitches worked pretty fine.

Arif Hasan at TEDxLahore - Photo by TEDxLahore

Before the talks, a minute of silence was observed to honor the lives lost in devastating floods, Airblue plane crash as well as to the victims of terrorism. After that, Arif Hasan, a renowned architect, took to the stage and discussed socio-economic changes in urban planning after Partition. He was followed by the duo of Omar Sheikh and Jabran Rafique, both of whom are super-mappers and the guys behind Attabad Lake markings and mapping on Google Mapmaker.

The only short-film filmed at TEDxLahore was titled ‘Building Pakistan’ with a patriotic theme depicted in a very innovative way. You can watch the video here.

Some other notable talks featured:

Ajmal Kamal – who talked about his dream of seeing everything written in Urdu available to everyone through print and electronic media.

Dr. Tariq Rahman – shed some light on how code-switching (multilingual overlapping e.g. Urdish & Urdi) is not exactly a bad thing in literature or everyday conversations.

Saima Zaidi – provided a visual treat by presenting the rich visual culture of Pakistan. References included a poster for Jhuley Laal, product packaging for Rooh Afza, Tibet Talcum Powder and a Mughal miniature depicting the folk love story of Shirin Farhad. She concluded her presentation with a resolve that we are a diverse and inclusive society as evident in our visual culture.

Beena Raza came next with her introduction to Sangan Nagar Institute of Philosophy & Arts. Apart from very lengthy text on slides, it was interesting to hear about another effort to revive our culture.

The show-stopper in the first half, without a doubt, was Noor Zehra’s mesmerizing performance on Sagar Veena. She played the instrument with so much ease yet captivating the whole audience in its magic. For those who are not aware, Noor Zehra happens to be Ali Noor and Ali Hamza’s mother.

Almost all of these speakers kept the audience glued to their seats despite some of the participants occasionally snoozing off due to tiredness or inspirational overdose. Just before the second half started, refreshments were served which included samosas, rolls, ras malai and rabrri milk by Nirala. Participants also got some time to network, talk and discuss ideas with each other.

The first half of the event was interesting but more on the informational side. Real surprise was packed in the second half of the evening during which each speaker was generously applauded by the audience. And yes, there were at least two standing ovations for Dr. Zeeshan Usmani and Mudassir Zia who honestly deserved it.

Dr. Zeeshan Usmani is a full-bright scholar and an associate professor at GIK Institute who has developed a very comprehensive computer simulation model for tracking the effects of shock waves after suicide bombings. He currently has the largest database of suicide bombings in Pakistan, which has helped him develop an intelligent model very useful for pre-emptive measures, calculating human causalities and identifying the perpetrators. His genius and humor-filled presentation style won him accolade by everyone in the auditorium. If there was an award for man of the match, it would have easily been shared by Dr. Usmani and Mudassir Zia.

Mudassir Zia was the only speaker to conduct his talk in Urdu, our national language, and perhaps the highest on inspirational value as he discussed remarkable achievements of his group of friends. His ideal of ‘first do, dare and then dream’ is very relevant to the current reality of our society where everyone talks big but does nothing. Mudassir and his friends have started a charity school (Ghulam Muhammad Grammar School), arranged patriotic street art competitions and conducted blood donation drives all by themselves without any external help or funding. Every member of their team works in his respective profession and then dedicates personal time and resources to all these noble activities.

In addition to Dr. Usmani and Mudassir Zia, other speakers included:

Dr. Nadeem-ul-Haque – discussed the paradigm of donor projects and production. Being the head of the Planning Commission of Pakistan, he admitted that our development is devoid of creativity and innovation because we give little creative and intellectual space to our youth. He was true is saying that we focus only on hardware (development projects) and do very less about changing the software (mind-set and intellectual skills of the people).

Live on Skype from London, Majid Nawaz discussed the need to develop national consensus to identify our leaders, symbols, alliances and finally a progressive narrative. Relating to different ideologies, Majid mentioned how every idea needs these four elements in order to be effective and strong enough to unite any nation.

Zubair Bhatti – the ex-DCO of Jhang shared his initiative of pre-emptive feedback gathering from common citizens. The idea is being implemented successfully across various districts of the Punjab where senior government officials call individuals to ask if there was any corruption witnessed by them. An automated telephone feedback line is also being started for recording complaints in this regard.

Dr. Asher Hasan – the founder of Naya Jeevan presented his NGO’s work on provision of quality healthcare to the deserving most in our society.

Finally, Dr. Aamir Khan came up with his dream of quality healthcare for all Pakistanis. With an impressive profile of achievements and successes, Dr. Aamir Khan, as the head of IRD, has initiated the use of mobile phone technology for mapping, tracking and curing pneumonia, TB and STDs amongst citizens of major urban areas in Pakistan. He acknowledged the genius behind mobile phones which has helped his system of paperless medical reports and patient data collection in the least developed areas of Pakistan.

Rafay Alam, scheduled to speak about Critical Mass (a campaign to encourage cycling in cities), could not make it from Delhi due to a flight delay but was generously appreciated by everyone present in the audience for his initiative.

Once the talks finished, Asim Fayyaz, Curator TEDxLahore, presented his concluding remarks which thanking everyone including the sponsors. What came later was a total surprise live performance on drums and dhol by Saad Sarfraz Sheikh and his friends.

Adding on to the suggestions given by other fellow bloggers, I would also appreciate the effort put in by everyone from organizers to volunteers. Although, one can say that the talks did not exceed the TED caliber, still, they were pretty decent; some of them quite innovative and even inspiring around the idea of ‘Collective Genius’. Since, TEDx phenomenon has just started with at least three chapters in Lahore alone, one can easily hope that we will see a marked improvement in the quality and inspirational quotient of talks in successive future events.

Hats off and two thumbs up for the organizers, speakers and audience at TEDxLahore!

Favorite sayings from TEDxLahore 2010:

‘Chinese curse: May you get what you wish for!’ – Dr. Nadeem-ul-Haque
‘The only helping hand is at the end of your arm’ – Mudassir Zia
‘The problem with problems: solve one, get one free – so we need to keep working’ – Dr.Aamir Khan


– Lots of positivity, optimism, patriotism and loads of ideas to bring a change for the better
– A goody-bag with TEDxLahore soundtrack, WWF Natura magazine, discount vouchers on books from ‘…the last word’ Qadaffi Stadium and a cute little plant gifted by the Horticulture Society.

TEDxLahore – new ideas swarm L-town!

Amid all the chaos and disillusionment that our country is going through right now, all we can and should do is talk about hope. After all, this is our country and we have to bring things in order on our own by uniting our minds and sharing ideas that can bring change for the good.

TEDxLahore is just about one such opportunity that shows hope for Pakistanis that there still are people who can turn things around for our society, country and the greater world at large by using the power of collective genius. Yes, ‘Collective Genius’ is the theme for this year’s TEDxLahore.

For starters, TED (Technology, Entertainment & Design) is a non-profit organization that has provided a platform through their annual conferences, talks and website for sharing ideas that can bring change in this world. Notable speakers at TED talks over the years have included Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Gordon Brown, Bill Gates and various notable individuals. In addition to TED talks, the movement encourages independently organized events hosted by colleges, communities and people across the world to share ideas worth spreading in their own context. These events are termed as TEDx.

Into it’s second year, we are glad to have another TEDx event happening right here in Lahore on 31st of July 2010. Being supported by the Planning Commission of Pakistan, TEDxLahore 2010 will provide an opportunity for individuals of the highest caliber to express their views and share their ideas for change.

To give you a tentative idea about things to expect at this year’s TEDxLahore, the list of speakers is as follows:

Arif Hasan – An architect, teacher and social researcher.
Dr. Nadeem ul Haque – Head of the Planning Commission of Pakistan.
Omer Sheikh and Jabran Rafique – Super Mappers (Google MapMaker)
Dr. Zeeshan-ul-Hassan Usmani
– A researcher on the effects of herd behavior on impulse shopping
Ajmal Kamal – Editor of AAJ journal for Urdu literature
Dr. Asher Hasan – Founder and CEO of Naya Jeevan
Saima Zaidi Author of ‘Mazaar, Bazaar’ – an exhaustive review of Pakistan’s visual culture.
Rafay Alam – A lawyer & environmental activist.
Mudassir Zia – Founder & President of Message Welfare Trust.
Beena Raza and Noor Zehra Kazim – Artists, Sitar players and teachers.
Dr. Aamir Khan Epidemiologist, founder and Executive Director of IRD since 2004.
Zubair K. Bhatti – Ex-DCO Jhang & The Asia Foundation’s Director of Programs, Pakistan.
Dr. Tariq Rehman
– Professor of Sociolinguistic History & specialist on Language Change.

You can find a detailed profile of all the speakers here, which will be more than enough to increase your excitement & eagerness to be a part of TEDxLahore as a present or virtual audience this year.

Let’s all look forward to what TEDxLahore brings for everyone on 31st of this month. Till then, keep following…


Twitter: @TEDxLahore


Live Viewing Parties: (click for more details)

Karachi – T2F

Islamabad – Civil Junction

Den Haag (The Hague) – Pakistan House

Faiz museum opens its doors to the public

Faiz museum, a project of Faiz Foundation Trust, was formally inaugurated on Sunday, March 1st, in Model Town. The museum aims to promote the legendary poet’s work along with promoting his progressive and humanistic ideas.


Faiz Ahmed Faiz, born in Sialkot on February 13, 1911, was the first Asian poet to be awarded Lenin Peace Prize in 1962.

Announcing the Life’s Too Short short-story Prize

Entries are invited to the first ever Life’s Too Short short-story prize.

For more information, go to

Entries will be judged by a panel consisting of Muhammad Hanif, Kamila Shamsie and Daniyal Mueenuddin.

First prize is Rs. 100,000/-, Second prize is Rs. 20,000/- and Third Prize is Rs. 10,000/-.

The ten best short stories selected by the judges will be published as an anthology.

Participants must be of Pakistani origin. Stories should not exceed 5,000 words. Entries must be in English. Poetry will not be accepted.

Entries must be mailed to

Submission deadline is 30 June 2009.

Meet Lorraine Adams

Lorraine Adams – a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist (Washington Post) turned novelist (author of two including Harbor by Knopf) is coming to Lahore. Presently she is working on a novel based in Pakistan. Friends are having a group discussion with her on on THURSDAY FEBRUARY 19 at 6 PM at 49 Mozang Road, Lahore, located close to the British Council. Come and join. It will be a lovely evening; that is a promise.

Please SMS at 03335188663 or email {razarumi{at}}  if you plan to attend.

Booklovers’ Paradise: 23rd Lahore International Book Fair

Once in a while you come across an event like the annual Lahore International Book Fair which acts like a healer to many of our daily life’s routine troubles and much of its monotony. An event which transcends the barriers of social class and creed; a place where you can lose yourself in a crowd of book lovers, spend hours and yet not get bored of it at all.

The 23rd Lahore International Book Fair, being held at Fortress Stadium Grounds, has started from Februrary 14 and is going to continue till 18th of this month. Iqbal Academy, the organizers and their sponsors this year, Zong and Express Media Group, should be appreciated for supporting Lahore’s biggest book fair which has grown in size and popularity over the years. At the same time  Lahore International Book Fair has also become a regular mark on the city’s spring calender of exciting activities.

Just as you enter the make-shift yet spacious venue filled with books, books and books all around, it gives you an overwhelming sense of serenity while watching crowds of visitors indulged in reading, browsing or just roaming excitedly provides you with a satisfaction that people still do read. And a lot of them do it still now!

The Fair is hosting about 30 to 40 different publishers, book houses and agents. All big names in Pakistan including Vanguard, Liberty Books, Paramount, Sang-e-Meel, Ferozsons, National Book Foundation, Oxford University Press, Cambridge Press, Lahore’s own beloved Readings as well as publishers from India and the United Kingdom are present with mounds and loads of ‘readings’ to offer. There is also a visible presence of publishers of the Holy Quran and other interesting Islamic multimedia products for children.

Most of the stalls are giving lucrative offers and discounts ranging from 15% to 25% which will help you extract the maximum utility out of your limited budget especially if you are a student.

Even if you do not plan to purchase any books, it is highly recommended that you should visit the fair, roam about, browse through stuff and enjoy the essence of a literary phenomenon which is fast depleting from our society.

Revisiting Lahore at DAWN Lifestyles

Of all the exciting attractions at this year’s Dawn ‘All About Lifestyles’ Exhibition, the most enriching is a gallery display of about 100 different epic photographs from Lahore’s past.

Lahore Revisited at Dawn Lifestyles Exhibition

Lahore Revisited at Dawn Lifestyles Exhibition

‘Revisiting Lahore A Photographic Journey’ comprises of a rare collection of the city’s history from F.S. Aijazuddin’s book titled ‘Lahore Recollected’. So, if you want to revive your nostalgia about Lahore as it used to be, vow not to miss it.

Dawn Lifestyles features display of consumer and commercial products by leading local and multinational brands. In addition to autograph and book signing sessions with eminent authors at “Books & Authors” pavilion, visitors can also enjoy an “All Breed Championship Dog Show”, a “Paintball competition” and tantalizing specialties at the Food Court.

The exhibition kicked off today and will continue up to 10 pm Sunday evening tomorrow. Like every year the venue remains Fortress Stadium’s Inner Ground.

Here’s to a fun-filled family weekend for all Lahoris to enjoy!

New news

My last blog post is still being debated (read bombed), and so I have delayed the advent of Terrorism Part 2. Which would probably be something that everyone will agree with anyway (I hope), but still, it is wise to defer an extended debate on controversial things.


We Lahoris are a Lahore-obsessed tribe. There is a whole course in LUMS called “Imagining Lahore” taught by the Dr. Furrukh Khan, one of the experts on the subject and the head of our Literature department. In another course “Food and culture”, the discussion is never far away from the type of food that we Lahoris eat, and what we perceive food as. I should know.


But anyway, we are never happier than when something big is happening in our own city, and forget the firecrackers for some time. LUMS has had the recent honor of being selected by prominent Pakistani writers for launching their latest books. Recent, did I say? Well, it has been around for some time; it is a famous story that someone here brought a pirated copy of a Bapsi Sidhwa work to be signed by the author—and the author flipped out! Lol…well…but no, let’s leave my thoughts on piracy fro another time.


After ‘A Case of Exploding Mangoes’ was launched last year, now, in less than a week, Kamila Shamsie is launching her new novel “Burnt Shadows” here as well!

Am I happily excited? I don’t know. Her books are beautiful, but….she is amazingly talented but…always a but and I fear I cannot express it as anything but but…

Maybe this one will finally explore the hurts of the common man more than the hurts of the elite, but I’m still excited. Here are the two mails that have been sent to us so far. First, there is her profile, and then the announcement.


Writer Kamila Shamsie, 33, is one of Pakistan’s most promising literary talents. First published at the age of 25, she now has four highly acclaimed books to her credit. She also received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literature in Pakistan in 1999.

Kamila’s four published novels – ‘In the City by the Sea’ (1998), ‘Salt and Saffron’ (2000), ‘Kartography’ (2002), and ‘Broken Verses’ (2005) – were written back to back, and each novel has spilled over into the other. She was still in grad school when she was revising the first, writing the second, and had already written the short story that grew into ‘Kartography’. As she worked on one novel, she would think that an idea could be worked on more. That would turn into the next novel. ‘Broken Verses’ coincided with 9/11, and US publishers didn’t want to buy it.

She had fallen into habits of writing – for example, “this generational thing”. In each of her novels, a younger generation figures out the secrets of the older one, but this was really a solution to a technical problem – a novel requires conflict, a secret is a good way to do it.


Dear All,

The sensational contemporary  English writer Kamila Shamise is coming to LUMS for the launch of her latest book , “Burnt Shadows”. Sweeping in its scope and mesmerizing in its evocation of time and place, Burnt Shadows is an epic narrative of disasters evaded and confronted, loyalties offered and repaid, and loves rewarded and betrayed.

Date: Monday, 9th January 2009
Time: 5pm

Venue : TBA

The launch is open to all (you can invite your non-LUMINITE friends and family )


LUMS Literary Society

“In a split second, the world turns white. In the next, it explodes with the sound of fire and the horror of realization. In the numbing aftermath of a bomb that obliterates everything she has known, all that remains are the bird-shaped burns on her back, an indelible reminder of the world she has lost. In search of new beginnings, she travels to Delhi ….” ~ an excerpt from the book

How we are Losing our Cultural Identity

Yesterday, I went through an appeal for donations in Dawn by Hassan Zaidi, the founder of KaraFilm. Mr. Zaidi has been instrumental in bringing international spotlight and global taste to Karachi in the form of Pakistan’s largest film festival which grew bigger and better each year until two years back. The security situation in Karachi had resulted in postponement of the event for two consecutive years while 2009 brought with it the worst of economic recessions to blame.

KaraFilm is not alone here; in Lahore, Peer Festivals’ much celebrated World Performing Arts Festival was blatantly sabotaged in 2008 when suspected blasts occurred at the venue of the event.

But the question is, is the security situation or availability of corporate sponsorships to be blamed alone? Isn’t our love for arts, culture, literature and our own aesthetic identity fading away. What was the last time you went out alone, or with your friends or family to an art exhibition, a lok virsa show or to any of the Alhamra concerts on ethnic music?

If we look around our immediate surroundings, and closely observe our collective pshyche, it would not be worng to say that we are rapidly loosing the artistic thought, the softer brain and the very essence of cultural identity. Today, the only entertainment considered entertainment is a Bollywood movie screening (at cinema or at home), a ‘western’ rock concert or in majority of the public’s case; cheap and vulgar theatre.

We may not realize this now, but in due time this realization will come and hit us hard when the damage to our unique cultural identity and the youth’s attitude towards it will be irreparable. And that would happen even without the help of extremist ideologies whether they be from the mullahs or the government.

We’ll lose it and never know when it happened unless our common perspective towards arts and culture changes; unless parents don’t feel undermined of their investment in children who opt for arts; unless we change our attitudes towards everything local and unless we do not support the only catalysts of revival i.e. our local artistes, the lok-musicians, the artisans and the craftsmen of our rich cultural heritage that spans over more than a couple of thousand years as well as welcoming and embracing international flavors in contemporary arts, theatre, music and film.

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