Very rarely do we get an anime series which treats its audience as discerning adults and give us a story about adults living their practical lives facing up the hardships of the world. Very rarely do we get an anime series that treats its content with subtlety, sensuality and dry wit yet steeped in melancholia and historical relevance. The show I am alluding to here is Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu.
For the uninitiated rakugo is a form of verbal byplay storytelling using changes of pitch, tone and slight head movements usually telling comedic stories (Wikipedia).
An anime series that deifies the market trends and norms and give anime fans a delicious amalgamation of strong dramatic plot and grounded to life characters with layered personalities. The anime about two rakugo story tellers with contrasting perspective of life in early 20th century Japan. during which it was popular and the inevitable slow death after the Great War and how their lives and everyone involved with them are tied to this most verbose art form.
It’s a beautiful anime series which isn’t shy about showing adult relationships, loss, depression, despair and death. You will see the ugliness of humans and their base desires, the flaws of men and women come to fore and you are left with a sense of pain for these characters and the decisions they take in their lives. I mean many a times I would feel sad after watching an episode and that shows the true testament of the series and the strength of its content.
One of the best things of the series is they sometimes show long winded and worded rakugo performance. It may sound boring on paper but they really are anything but. There is one performance which really made me all go pins and needles, sure it was a very important segment of the story but how it used rakugo as a crutch was beautiful. Hell we find such scenes in Oscar nominated movies, I mean I would even go as far as calling that scene as one of the greatest directed scene I have ever seen in any anime!
The entire art style is really spiffy as it captures the era perfectly and while the animation aren’t what you call ‘awe inspiring’ but they get the job done in the end. The OST has vibes of jazz which really complements the show beautifully. The voice acting is really good as it doesn’t sound tired or going through emotions. And Yu Koyabashi also stars which is always a plus for me!
The only thing which may make some watchers maybe a little uncomfortable is there is definite bi-shounen elements going on in the art style but thankfully nothing in the story!
This 13 episodes series shows the first arc with leads directly to other characters who are connected in the story line into the second arc (a 2nd season got announced the day the 1st season ended) so there is an amazing tapestry of stories all woven together in one whole! Fans of mature anime who like a slow burn would do well to give this anime a whirl! Highly recommended, 10/10
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Anime, Japan, jazz, rakugo, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu | 2 Comments »
So I have been reading quite a few messages on Pakistani Cricket Fanatics Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/Pak.Cric.Fanatics/) and on PCF’s Twitter account (https://twitter.com/PCricFanatics). Also watched a bit of Geo Super (don’t ask me why, I guess I am a bitch for punishment) and there is trend I am seeing which I am definitely not liking! What trend is that you might ask? That Pakistan only wins at home and hence are not a good team let alone being a great one! This is statement really grinds my gears!
Relishing the winning moments!
I mean why, collectively as a nation, are we not happy at any achievements? Why do we treat home series victories with such loathing and disgust? Why do we demean our team by downplaying their achievements in familiar settings? Remember this is a team that does not enjoy home advantage! Having familiar settings in UAE is great and all but there is no home advantage!. The facilities are not our own, our own people live as ex-pats, the players themselves don’t feel at home out in the streets, living out from the suitcase, you know, missing the familiarity of home! I don’t think no team in any sports have suffered such a loss of not getting to play at home because of security reasons and yet despite all that have made their adopted ‘home’ an impregnable fortress! No team has beaten Pakistan in the last 5 years! Isnt that alone be a cause of pride for us!?? Hell not just us but for the world that here’s a team that hasn’t let such a disadvantage bring it down and still acts an inspiration for people back home!!
A Fortress in the Desert Winds!
I was listening to some ex Pakistani players experts on TV and rather than savoring home victories and our ‘home’ record they kept on harping how we have not won abroad, how these batsmen will fail in UK next year! My point is yes we will struggle in alien conditions sure but that doesn’t take anything away from what we have achieved in our adopted home!
One point some detractors use is about how ‘easy’ the pitches are in UAE and how easy it is for batsmen to score tons of run! Then how come other players from different countries don’t scoring so easily?!?!. These critics guffaw over the astounding stat of how Pakistani batsmen have scored 30 centuries in 15 Tests in sub continent conditions, then how come India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh doesn’t have this sort of record?!!?
The Knights of the Desert Realm!
This is what I think: Pakistan Test teams of 70’s, 80’s, 90;s and even 2000’s were more talented, had more flair and raw potential, knew how to be expressive, generally being more sexy yet personally I like the 2010 onward team better! These players are more united, more committed to the cause and willing to fight for on another and while having no pretenses! Senior players like YK, Misbah, Ajmal and even Hafeez to some degree act as father figures, while the young players like Azhar, Asad, Wahab, Saifie, Yasir and Junaid respect the elders yet stand up to be counted!
A band of brothers!
In essence they are a true Pakistani team. Hard working, standing up to adversity and helping each other for the greater good. And for that I feel more connected to this team than any previous ones!
Which is why I say this with pride and honor that teams don’t like inviting us to tour their countries like England, Australia, New Zealand, West Indies and India: Himmat hai tou beta tou aa kar UAE mein khelo hamaray saath, aur phir jeet ker dekho! MashAllah! (translation: Come to UAE if you dare, beat us if you can!!
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(Writing an hour worth of content I accidentally deleted the entire article so now just writing an abridged version)
Ms. Muniba Mazari is going about changing and challenging perspective in Pakistan. The society we live in has deep rooted issues and prejudices towards women or status and religious bigotry but when it comes to the physically challenged they really get the raw end of the deal. Its not just how such people are viewed (yours truly has had more than few instances which were quite awkward), but there is a feeling that its better if such people stay in the background. Sure in the last decade things have started to look up considering how things but the the gradual change in mindset that is now taking place will take a while to show results but people like Ms. Mazari are acting as trail blazer.
The astoundingly beautiful and graceful Muniba Mazari is a talented artist and a motivational speaker who is not only a huge hit on social media but recently has started to appear on TV. But everything wasn’t this rosy as fate had dealt a rather difficult hand when she became wheelchair bound after a horrific car accident where she lost ability to walk. But that didn’t get her down and soon enough launched her career as an artist and motivational speaker. Her painting portrays the female forms either highlighting what makes a Pakistani woman strong or some of the issues they face and while as a motivational speaker she tries to instill a positive attitude into people.
But the reason I considered writing this piece when I saw Muniba Mazari appearing as a co-host on one of the Ramadan transmission on TV. Her was a woman on a wheelchair coming on a Pakistani channel, not standing in the background nor getting pitted at, rather being adored by the people on set and the huge audience following the show due to her glowing smile and an indomitable aura!
Muniba Mazari who by her own admission is ‘physically challenged and differently able’ which really encapsulate her wild spirit and an ironclad will! So here’s to you kiddo , shine on and be free!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged art, artist, Muniba Mazari, wheelchair | 2 Comments »
In the last 5-7 years there has been a lot of talk about the revival of Pakistan cinema which was in its death throes. Couple of decades of pitiful investment, abysmal directors, a dearth of good writers, risk taking producers and uninterested governments left Pakistani cinema on constant life support. But it was only recently that aspiring and talented film makers started to branch out to make movies that weren’t flashy but had real heart and soul. These movies have not only displayed movie making panache by the youths but also distanced themselves away from the trash that was usually associated with Pakistani cinema.
The positive vibes that have been felt throughout the country has been amazing. People are now hopeful that Pakistan cinema can put the country on the map by charting out its own niche while being different from the Indian and Pakistani movie industry of the past. While there is no shortage of commercial movies that has done quite well for themselves, I usually associate Pakistani cinema revival on movies that go against the grain. The problem I have with commercial movies is they are hell bent on competing with the Indian cinema which in my opinion is not the way to go. It’s the reality based movies that can really make Pakistani movies stand out and that in turn will prove that Pakistan movies doesn’t need to a follow a particular blue print for success but can etch out its own identity and its own brand!
Films like Dukhtar is a step in the right direction.
If you guys are wondering why I am writing on a subject that already has got loads of coverage? Then let me enlighten you all: So this was a few days ago when I watching a news based morning show on Capital TV. The host, Mahrukh Qureshi, was talking about the revival of Pakistan cinema and its effect on the entertainment industry in the country. What transpired in the entire segment was nothing short of disgraceful.
Basically the entire 15 minute tirade was all about highlighting the ‘flaws’ of this revival. The segment had two guests (on phone call); one was some producer who I had never even heard of and the other guest was our much ‘esteemed and celebrated’ film director Syed Noor. I never had much respect of Syed Noor’s movies but what he had to say really made me kinda hate the guy!
The host and the two guests were of the opinion that the movies that are being made are either too depressing or based on terrorism. They were critical of film makers as they consider them as obsessed in making movies which were tied down to realism. That they were impressed by TV dramas, hence their movies too are showing that trend which was a big no-no.
Pakistan’s ‘legendary and decorated’ film director Syed Noor.
The ‘solution’ for this ‘obvious problem’ which the host and these guests gave that Pakistani movies should always be ‘entertaining commercial movies’ which all could mean that they should include light drama, a lighthearted romance, a couple of poorly choreographed fight scenes, good number of song and dance sequences and some sort of moral at the end!!. Syed Noor went so far ahead in his bashing that he called out to the film makers to stop making reality movies as these were big mistakes. That we should make movies that can directly compete with Indian movies and the only way to achieve this is to stop making such depressing movies!
You guys should have seen me; I was positively fuming and swearing like a drunken sailor! I mean shouldn’t the revival be encouraged?!
I really don’t understand this: why do we have to compete with the Indian movie industry? Why can’t we make movies that are decidedly different from the trash India usually makes? Most of their mainstream movies have nil plot development, piss poor acting, insane amount of ‘fan service’ and copious amounts of song and dance! Why should our movies ape Bollywood? Didn’t that cause the death of Pakistani cinema already?
Reality based movies like Lamha should be lauded rather than criticized.
What really got to me is how guys like Syed Noor actually thought these new movies were a mistake and will be detrimental in the revival! I mean how can the man be so stupid to even think like that! The reason we find Pakistan cinema struggling to stay relevant because guys like Syed Noor were making movies that were shallow and very poorly made! So when the cool kids start making movies that are WAY better than old Pakistani movies it’s these insecure old directors and producers who cause the most harm!
So in the end I just want to say that they way Pakistani movies are being made now should be encouraged because if such movies are not celebrated then the film industry in Pakistan will be over and there will be no comeback from that!
Posted in Pakistani movies | Tagged Capital TV, cinema, Dukhtar, Lamha, Mahrukh Qureshi, movies, Pakistan, Pakistani movies, Seedlings, Syed Noor | Leave a Comment »
There is a certain video that is making rounds on Facebook these days that’s has send its denizen in a fit of laughable frenzy. The video I am talking about is the one where Pakistan’s once pop idol sensation who now has turned his life toward religion is seen giving his opinion about cars and women and hypothetical scenarios. And that’s not all; this interview took place LAST Ramazan, so for the video to go viral NOW raises a few questions (another topic for another time). Junaid Jamshed (whom I will call JJ) who has turned his life a full 180 degree toward religion has already been derided by all and sundry esp. those who were fan of music. What gets to me is how people can actually criticize a guy for pursing religion which HAS to be the main priority. Right? RIGHT?!!
Any ways back to the topic at hand. So basically what JJ said in the vidoe that men shouldn’t let women drives cars or motorbikes for that matter as once the women develops a habit of the leaving the house it becomes very difficult for her to stay at home. First let me make myself clear: I in NO WAY endorse JJ’s opinion about this. I consider myself a little religiously inclined but even I was a tad offended at this. And with that out the way, let’s move on. Now JJ’s opinion does sound a very misogynistic which has (and did) send shock waves on the social media. Having such a position in the media JJ’s statement was in poor taste as far as I am concerned. His remark only added fuel to the fire that all religious men are hard-liners who are against women empowerment, which is SO removed from the truth!
All this talk got me wondering: Why all the hate? I mean the way JJ has been put on a guillotine over his OPINION is kinda overkill! And then it struck me! I had a Eureka moment and came up with a few questions over which I didn’t have an answer to:
- JJ may have not taught his wife how to drive but have we ever wondered if JJ is fulfilling ALL of his Islamic obligations as a husband?
- Have you wonder if JJ has made his wife ‘wear the pants in the house’ and made her the one who is responsible for the upbringing of his and her children?
- Have you wonder if JJ is providing all the necessities and luxuries of life to his wife?
- Have you wondered if JJ treated his wife right even though if he did the’ unthinkable’ i.e. not teaching her to drive?
No we didn’t. All we saw and heard that JJ doesn’t believe in teaching women to drive! We just paraded his video on the net and then branded him a low life, cave dwelling, women controlling Neanderthal who needs to be locked up far away from the opposite sex! Convenient aint it? Personally I found all of this criticism idiotic hogwash!
But don’t worry, this blog post isn’t going to be taking a clear side as there was something JJ said which was more worrying and I think JJ should come out and clear this mess.
So when JJ made his opinion, the host of the show, Nida Pasha, (who was donning a Hijab JUST for this interview as since then she has done episodes involving fashion weeks and bridal weeks etc. Without a Hijab I might add, but I won’t go into this I assure you!) posed a question that what would a woman do if she is either a widow or a divorcee or doesn’t have male relative and has to earn a living. JJ gave a very stupid remark saying that such a hypothetical woman doesn’t exist! Sorry JJ but Pakistan’s society is a very brutal one and there are MANY women out there who HAVE to go out the house, learn to drive and make a living. This really annoyed me like crazy as JJ has been under the tutelage of Maulana Tariq Jamil Sahib for years, who have talked about women issues in the light of Quran and Hadith. So for JJ to make a remark like that was nothing short of callous and short sighted and I rather have JJ making a proper statement about this and clear the air as it were!
But then again once a person is branded a ‘Mullah’ on Facebook there is NOTHING that person will do that would absolve him of this stigma! JJ may very well be a good and honest person, a practising Muslim who fulfils all his obligations to Allah Taala and Rasool Allah PBUH and toward his fellow humans (family or otherwise), is a good husband and father and tries to live his life accordingly but he will now always be known as a ‘THE’ guy who is against women drivers! Much ado about nothing if you ask me!!!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged cars, Hijab, Junaid Jamshed, NIda Pasha, Pakistan, society, women | Leave a Comment »
The social media in Pakistan has been buzzing for a month now. The horrific events in Gaza and Israel’s insane barbarism has gotten lot coverage and rightly so. But another hot topic during Ramazan was the commercialism of the Holy month on Pakistan media. TV evangelists and celebrities putting on quite a grand show on many of the main stream channels, product companies throwing away free gifts at the ‘cattle’ of an audience that would be present in such shows was what Ramazan was all about this year! Only a few channels actually had any semblance of sanity where top tier Ulema-e-Haq and scholars were invited to preach the masses at large. Capitalism has made religion quite the hot mess in Pakistan.
What made me jump and sit up was NOT what was happening during Ramazan (yes it was mind numbing and bewildering) but it during Chaand Raat and the Eid days which made quite the shocking statement! Pakistan media had shed it cloak of ‘religion’ and showed it real colours! It was nauseating, pathetic and shallow all at the same time!
So when the 29th Roza ended and it was a far gone conclusion that the next day would be Eid the TV channels almost burst with glee. It was as if the ‘torture’ of the whole month was over and people could go on and have fun and celebrations in their lives! It was appalling. All the pretension of Ramazan that the Pakistan media had taken up just vanished in a blink of an eye! The day of Eid we had dances, songs, movies: basically a lot of hoopla and general callousness! And all of this comes at a time when just a few 1000 miles away there is human travesty taking place in Gaza, our Muslims brothers no less were literally being blown to smithereens, or the hardship of the IDPs in Northern Pakistan who were braving difficult situation for the future of country or that Pak Army was fighting a tough war, how can Pakistan Media be so…..insensitive….to all of this!?!?!?! Yes I know celebrating Eid is a Sunnah of Rasool Allah PBUH in the way prescribed by the Sharia but what ever happened on Pakistan Media was not a celebration; it was rather an orgy of hypocrisy!
Is this the freedom of media that Pakistan wants? Is yes then I am sorry I don’t want any part of it! There has been many times when I have been ashamed due to the people of Pakistan and here was YET another occasion!
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You just stand around. Feeling irritated yet indifferent. You put on a fake mask, smiling and laughing. You look for that one face that you can recognize. You feel as if you are the stranger, invading, loitering. You don’t feel as if you are in the right place. Everything then becomes a blur. The voices intensify, the surroundings close in. Your eyes darts around trying to make sense of it all yet the more you try the more confusing it gets! Its as if you are on the outside looking in.
You want to run, you want to feel the wind running through your hair. You want to jump out of your skin and feel as if you belong. As if you make a difference. As if you existed. You want to scream. You want to yell at the top of your lungs. You want to feel the rain on your face. You want to feel as if your presence is felt. As if you are alive. Its as if you are on the outside looking in
Then everything stops. You feel liberated. You feel as you have lost. Was it worth the pain? Was it worth the time? You try to find the answers but don’t. You stand there, feeling you have gone back to the start. You sigh and then shrug. But in the end there is nothing else but your and your soul, standing on the outside…looking in.
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