Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: O21 in the House

Published in Daily Times (Entertainment section) / 15 Oct 2014

O21 takes a shot at cerebral cinema and sets out to explore the only genre left standing - espionage. It goes on to pair American / Afghan, Pakistani CIA assets embroiled in a game of global deception with corporate interests that govern the region. There will be sky high stakes that go so well with super spy tropes. And a ticking clock to send viewers into paroxysms.

The events take place in a span of 21 hours hopping from Washington (shabby looking CIA offices), Afghanistan (dreary cafes) to Pakistan (darkened halls & melancholy train tracks). The darkness is literal and metaphorical. It is conceptually strong, and viscerally claustrophobic. A moving soundtrack (Alfonso Gonzalez Aguilar) echoes in the background. The grandiose vision beckons from a distance.

Despite these intriguing parameters - it is not an edge of the seat drama. The build up is excruciatingly slow. The urgency is MIA. Then again, it is about go…

Na Maloom Afraad Press Show

Published in Daily Times / 6 Oct 2014




There are two Pakistani films geared to open on Eid, both with female producers at the helm - one of them recently held a premier show for the media. ‘Na Maloom Afraad’ is a term synonymous with Karachi – a sly reference to the ‘persons unknown’ who terrorize the city already on knife’s edge, and vanish without a trace. It takes skill to conjure comedy from such a bleak premise. ‘Na Maloom Afraad’ finds a way.



The three leads – film veteran Javed Sheikh, Fahad Mustafa, and up and coming stars like Mohsin Abbas Haider, are in perfect sync as the upright small business man, eager beaver / insurance sales agent, and down on his luck Moon making his debut as their rent buddy in Karachi while dreaming of living large in Dubai.

Their transformation takes place in the backdrop of Karachi’s gritty streets, and as their lives unravel, the wreckage provides plenty of merriment, and some surprisingly insightful commentary about the state of the world we inh…

021 vs. Press

Published (sans my name) in Daily Times / Karachi pages 28 Sep 2014. Hope someone fixes the mistake in their online edition.

Thank you Pheby Haroon for the invite.


NY Times casts Afghanistan in a new role as the ‘Saudi Arabia of Lithium’. A spy thriller that views the discovery of mineral wealth as a double edged sword is coming soon. ‘O21’ reserves this backdrop, and envisions the regional implications from the resultant tug of war between powerbrokers / allies clamoring for their share.
While the premise spawns endless conspiracy theories, espionage appears to be a logical extension of the counter-terrorism angle. The Af-Pak / US trinity becomes the perfect foil for those driven by a desire to put events on this side of Durand line in context. Before ‘O21’ makes its official debut, the press were invited to Nueplex Cinemas (Karachi) to meet the cast.


Among them was Azaan Sami Khan – CEO, ‘One Motion Pictures’. It is his first undertaking as a producer. The mantle of executive pro…

KARACHI DIARIES: Know Thy Ally

Published in Economic Affairs / August 2014

Till 1989, the average Pakistani is better off than the average Chinese or Indian for that matter, in terms of GDP / Capita. The graph would change. By 2012, the Chinese would be 6 times better off than their Pakistani counterparts. Their GDP would rise by 30% - the economic reforms in the 1980’s would leave everyone behind; and a talk on China’s exponential growth and towering skyline would trigger an inadvertent comparison with its trusty ally.

Adil Husain, originally from Karachi, and later found in Washington eventually ended up spending 7 year in China, and was recently seen waving a disclaimer in T2F (The Second Floor). The views, he will share are his own. The contrasts he witnesses will be dramatic. And the China from his vantage point would appear in the form of a well mapped chessboard.

As he winds his way back in time, he will be struck by the entrepreneurial spirit of its people, their strong work ethic and the high % of female p…

E-Book Review: Heritage / Author: S.M Boyce

Received an ARC from the lovely Boyce last year, couldn't review it then, by the time I did, Daily Times (my paper) had decided YA wasn't suitable for it OP-ED Pages. This Blog is only for my published work but I promised the author a review, so here it is. Apologies for the delay S.M.

P.S: I am looking forward to Illusion.


Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

Heritage’ which was to mark the grand finale of the Grimoire trilogy is now the third installment in a series of four. The YA fantasy still hurtles towards the end but the adventure is far from over. And former rookie Kara Magari is busy trying to balance two thankless jobs as the wise Vagabond, and her true nature revealed at the end of ‘Treason’. Change is in the air for both realms and newcomers vie for Ourea - the fictional land envisaged by S.M. Boyce and brought to life in ‘Lichgates’ - Book I.

Book III that was supposed to wind up our heroines arc, marks the continuation of the same journey that began when Kara, a human fell…

LADIESFUND Speed networking comes to Karachi

Published in Daily Times / 18 July 2014

The myth of the subjugated woman made one person laugh mirthlessly. ‘…subjugated, really…where then did all these ladies come from? And why, o why is the foreign press not covering this side of Pakistan.’ It was a valid observation. The senior journalist, one of the few men invited to cover the event, appeared overwhelmed by the sight of so much enlightened moderation milling around the British High Commission that January afternoon.

The first LADIESFUND® speed networking luncheon (Karachi), which is the result of a partnership between Dawood Global Foundation and British Deputy High Commission had recently added some Harvard style networking to the menu. The intimidating sounding concept was simply a chance for enterprising women from all over to come together, explore avenues of possible collaboration, update the client list, strengthen corporate connections, and be amazed by sheer number of talent gathered under one shady tree (it was an…

Karachi Diaries: The House of GUERLAIN

Published in Economic Affairs (Islamabad) / July 2014

“….one Terracotta powder is sold somewhere in the world every 20 seconds” – GUERLAIN (Twitter)

On the last weekend of June, Karachi was invited to discover the world of French Luxury Fragrance & Beauty. GUERLAIN (1828) is a French Perfume House ranked among the oldest in the world, and has reportedly created over 300 fragrances. Its founder would go on to become His Majesty's Official Perfumer after developing a fragrance for French Emperor Napoleon III and his wife Empress Eugénie. Guerlain (pronounced Ger-lah) is also credited with inventing ‘Rouge Automatique’ (1884) - the first modern lipstick which would be re-released in 2011.



Their makeup and skincare range is now available at Debenhams at Dolmen Mall, Clifton – the signature fragrances will be carried by Scentsation Flagship stores across Pakistan. The event was managed by Tehmina Khalid (Take II) and her team and hosted by model / actress / DJ Hira Tareen sporting a…

Karachi Diaries: Walk in Klauset

Published in Economic Affairs (Islamabad) / July 2014 P-34

Dressing well is a sign of good manners” – Tom Ford fashion designer / film director

A Canadian based clothing giant that opened the doors of its flagship store in Karachi offers custom made menswear (for now), touch screens to craft unique profiles, and a coffee bar to placate waiting customers. Klauset’s ‘Made in Pakistan’ label has to be clarified since labor is local, the cloth is imported, and standards are international. The owners try to outline the process for Sindh Education Minister Nisar Khuhro, and regale him with a lesson on texture, weight, limitations (220 gms) and material (micro light, poly wool). Tuxedos that are the rage and come with snazzy cummerbunds raise some eyebrows. It is the first taste of colonial style for those who hadn’t read P.G. Wodehouse, and were unfamiliar with Bertie Wooster’s delightful collection of alpine hats, purple socks or scarlet cummerbunds.


Later, the guest of honor will be s…

What to Expect When you are an Expat

Published in Daily Times / 23 June 2014

Come, it is an opportunity to meet people – the kind you don’t get to see anymore.’

Mekel Waqar’s invitation leads to Côté Jardin located inside the French Cultural Centre. A week ago it had hosted a lovely little exhibition by Pakistani / French artists. The cosmopolitan heart of Karachi has been in retreat; it now thrives behind fortified walls, and eyes the changing landscape with increasing wariness. Mekel, the go to person for visiting / resident foreigners brings the twain together. His mission is to roll out the welcome wagon, arrange mixers, and help expats navigate the cultural divide with ease. He is an InterNations Ambassador tasked with overseeing the Karachi Chapter, while manning the bridge linking city dwellers with the invisible expat community.

InterNations was founded in 2007 by a trio of Germans (Malte Zeeck, Christian Leifeld, Philipp von Plato) and is a global network of expatriates with a presence in 190 countries and 3…

E-BOOK REVIEW: A Newlywed’s Adventures in Married Land

Published in Daily Times (Pakistan) / 24 June 2014

Published under the title: Domestic Bliss, Displacement & Desi Wives

Thank you Indireads & Rizwan Tufail for the review copy

Happily ever after’s have not lost their appeal. But Shewta Kumar takes fairy-tale endings, with the land far away as a launch pad, and enlists a newly-wed Mythili busy trading in her journalistic credentials for ‘desperate’ housewife’ as a starter. This is Shweta’s third novel and her first e-book / novella. She is an Indian writer / travel columnist who has worked as a CNN-IBN correspondent, and authored two bestsellers - ‘Between the Headlines: The Travails of a TV Reporter’ & ’Coming up on the Show: The Travails of a News Trainee’.

Here she sets out to sketch Mythili’s new life among fellow expats using Manila as a backdrop where time weighs heavily and the walls start closing in. Having left her crime reporting days as ‘chief-ferreting-out-information-officer’ behind, the characters transform…

EVENT: Alliance Francaise de Karachi Resource Centre Inauguration

First Published in Economic Affairs (Isl) / June 2014

They say it was dark - the lights had been turned off, and doors of the French Cultural Centre locked when a gentleman arrived, and bought 7 paintings – among them was a set of 4 honoring the elements which the artist had been reluctant to break.



Alliance Francaise de Karachi had invited six painters to be a part of the inaugural ceremony of their new Resource Centre. A charming Diptych by Paul Mehdi Rizvi that blended in so beautifully, and was erroneously believed to be a part of the décor was actually from the exhibit.



The Centre which has gone through several iterations over the years, and lay forgotten as a storage space, now offers combined facilities of a study section, cultural corner, a recreational area, and on May 15th - a taste of contemporary art.



Babar Moghal, Omar Farid, Henri Souffay, M. Akram Spaul, Scharjeel Sarfaraz, and Paul Mehdi Rizvi had been enlisted as their opening act. Inside, somewhere by the book …

KARACHI DIARIES: KOMAL RIZVI VDO Launch / Press Conference

First Published in Economic Affairs (Islamabad) / June 2014



This brother / sister duo came highly recommended. Their music video launch / press conference held at Port Grand, (Karachi) will be the talk of town. And their experimental new sound would be put up for review.



Komal Rizvi, who made her debut as a singer / actress / VJ in the 1990’s, was staging a comeback with her new single - ‘Kalli Kalli’ in April 2014. Hasan Rizvi stars in the video with his sister; Sohail Javed directs. It would be Komal’s first launch and Hasan’s umpteenth choreography.



The filming had been eventful, the storyboard toyed with the elements - water, fire,,,, etc, as did the musicians; one was scorched, the other drowned, several times over reportedly. Nothing had dampened their ardour, or kept them from bombarding Sohail with a steady stream of creative input. ‘Add a tabla’ one would say, ‘how about a sitar’ the other would suggest.


The award winning director survived, and was later hailed for his …