The Politics of Art

By Sonya Rehman Divided by religion, marred by violence, Bollywood’s King Khan weighs in on the current debate in India… With the culmination of the Masala! Awards this year, perhaps the biggest talking point about the event was how it brought together both Indian and Pakistani artists on one platform to further promote the cross-cultural… More The Politics of Art

An Unsung Hero

By Sonya Rehman Initiated this year, the social media initiative, Pending Meal, spearheaded by the young advertising professional, Sarah Rizvi, has garnered immense popularity. This week, Masala! chats with Sarah about her social welfare project and the importance of paying it forward. How does Pending Meal work? The idea or concept behind Pending Meal is… More An Unsung Hero

Music Has No Borders

By Sonya Rehman Pakistani documentary filmmaker, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, known for her big Oscar win in 2012 for Saving Face (a documentary about acid attack survivors in Pakistan), has once again brought a spellbinding story to the fore – Song of Lahore. Highlighting eight incredible Pakistani classical musicians, who go by the name of Sachal Jazz… More Music Has No Borders

Defending Digital Freedoms in Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman This year, one of TIME’s Next Generation Leaders, Nighat Dad, a young Pakistani activist and lawyer based in the city of Lahore, is one of the most significant voices in the country in creating awareness amongst Pakistani women about cyber crimes and cyber harassment. Having founded her not-for-profit, Digital Rights Foundation (DRF)… More Defending Digital Freedoms in Pakistan

‘Music Was a Secret That I Hid From My Father’

By Sonya Rehman Hariprasad Chaurasia needs no introduction: he is a living legend in the field on Indian classical music. In an up close and personal interview with the maestro, he tells Masala! Magazine about his journey to becoming one of the most celebrated flutists in the world today. Panditji, is it true your father… More ‘Music Was a Secret That I Hid From My Father’

Center Stage

By Sonya Rehman Having been a part of the theatre scene in India since the 80s, Preeta Mathur Thakur, the President of the prominent theatre group, Ank, in Mumbai, speaks with Masala! about her upcoming play, Jis Lahore Nahin Dekhya (to be held in Dubai this month), the evolution of theatre in India, and playing… More Center Stage

“Researching Manto was a Voyage of Discovery”

By Sonya Rehman Slated for release this month, the trailer for the Pakistani Sadat Hassan Manto biopic, Manto, is intense and riveting. Directed by Sarmad Sultan Khoosat (who also plays Manto in the production), and written by Shahid Nadeem, the film focuses on the writer’s last few years in Pakistan before Manto’s tragic demise. This… More “Researching Manto was a Voyage of Discovery”

The Woman Behind TheJamJar

By Sonya Rehman Dubai-based Hetal Pawani is the Director of the well-known art space, thejamjar, established in 2005, that offers artist residencies, art workshops, performances, screenings, art sessions for children and more. This week, Hetal speaks with Masala! Magazine about thejamjar, Artinthecity – a fantastic art project she spearheaded a few years ago and the… More The Woman Behind TheJamJar

The Maestro of Fashion

By Sonya Rehman Kicking off this month, the Amazon India Couture Week (AICW) ’15 featured a bevy of Bollywood celebrities blazing the ramp in breath-taking ensembles. Drama, luxury and art – from the ramp’s transformation into a luxury yacht for Monisha Jaising’s The Sailing Bride collection, to Anju Modi’s stunning line inspired by Rumi and… More The Maestro of Fashion

Step Up and…Dance!

By Sonya Rehman Launched by Mahima Mehta in 2014, MAD (Mad About Dance), is a dance academy in Dubai that focuses on various dance forms, such as; Bollywood, Jazz & Contemporary, Freestyle, Lyrical Hip Hop, and more. Part of the corporate world for many years, Mahima eventually decided to quit Marketing in desperate need for… More Step Up and…Dance!

We Are Loved

By Sonya Rehman Over the past few weeks I met two beautiful girls with holes in their hearts the size of craters. Mothers, lost, mothers, taken away, tragedy, pain, like child-birth, I felt but half a human in their presence. Their endurance and resilience made me feel such an utter sense of shame. Because there’s… More We Are Loved

Regional Fashion on a Global Platform

By Sonya Rehman The Woolmark Company’s prestigious International Woolmark Prize (IWP) 2015, will be seeing the participation of gifted regional designers from the Middle East, India and Pakistan for the first time since its inception, four years ago. Celebrated for bringing new talent from the world of fashion to the global stage, eleven talented regional… More Regional Fashion on a Global Platform

“I’ve Been Accused of Writing About the Same Type of Hero Every Time”

By Sonya Rehman Perhaps best known for her very own brand of rom-com fiction set in urban India, author Anuja Chauhan, an advertising professional, defines contemporary fiction in the country. With bestsellers such as The Zoya Factor, Battle for Bittora, Those Pricey Thakur Girls, and more recently, The House That BJ Built, Anuja’s work is… More “I’ve Been Accused of Writing About the Same Type of Hero Every Time”

Journalism in Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman Perhaps best known for his widely popular, hard-hitting talk show, “Talk Back,” and “Eye on India” for the local Pakistani news channel, DAWN News, Wajahat S. Khan is one of the best-known Pakistani broadcast journalists in the country today. Having worked for a number of local and foreign media houses; such as… More Journalism in Pakistan


By Sonya Rehman I’ve been thinking about the Gulmohar trees back home a lot lately. Have you seen a Gulmohar tree? It is a glorious tree with the prettiest flaming red flowers; like a tall, upright girl with a mass of red, frenzied curls. In English, the tree is known as ‘Delonix Regia,’ I can’t… More Gulmohar

Love Never Dies

By Sonya Rehman What happens when two brilliant poets are drawn to each other? What happens when they’re separated by distance, but their connection to one another is so strong that the feeling between them continues to blossom, spreading its roots, strengthening its hold on their hearts? Sahir Ludhianvi and Amrita Pritam, two widely successful… More Love Never Dies

Sahir and Amrita

By Sonya Rehman I had a bit of a full circle moment at work today. A colleague asked me to look into a theatrical production, Ek Mulaqaat (due to be staged in Dubai, next month), for coverage in our magazine. Agreeing, I googled the play, and to my surprise, I noticed the play is based… More Sahir and Amrita

How Bollywood is Teaching Women to Love Themselves

By Sonya Rehman Released this year, the Yash Raj production, Dum Laga Ke Haisha, is a Bollywood movie that truly breaks the size zero stereotype. Revolving around the protagonist, Sandhya, a voluptuous young woman, the movie encourages self-belief in an insecure world hungry for physical perfection. While we have read about and spoken of the… More How Bollywood is Teaching Women to Love Themselves

Last Night I Dreamt

By Sonya Rehman Last night I dreamt I was home, But I was in the middle, Not really here, And not really there, Hundreds of miles away, My mother told me, She was walking behind me, The pavement was broken, And as I walked, Never once looking behind my shoulder, She walked behind me, In… More Last Night I Dreamt

Hamza Ali Abbasi talks cinema, politics and Pakistan!

By Sonya Rehman In Dubai this month to attend the HUM TV Awards, Pakistani actor and heartthrob, Hamza Ali Abbasi, cut a sharp and handsome figure. Dressed in jeans and a plain white T-shirt, Abbasi was all debonair vibes and charm. This year, the actor’s schedule is choc-a-block full with film production commitments. For one,… More Hamza Ali Abbasi talks cinema, politics and Pakistan!

“It’s Interesting To See A Book Come To Life Beyond Fiction” – Saba Imtiaz

By Sonya Rehman Karachi, You’re Killing Me!, the debut novel penned by the Pakistani writer/journalist, Saba Imtiaz, last year, is soon to be adapted into a Bollywood production. The story revolves around a young protagonist, Ayesha Khan, who works as a reporter in the bustling city of Karachi. The book is a fun, racy read… More “It’s Interesting To See A Book Come To Life Beyond Fiction” – Saba Imtiaz

Leaving The Nest

By Sonya Rehman I arrived in Dubai early this month and have never felt so clueless, directionless, anchor-less in my life. At 26, I moved to New York for a year for grad school. While my year in the US wasn’t exactly easy-breezy, it was easier somehow compared to my current move. Perhaps it was… More Leaving The Nest

The Rebirth of PIA?

By Sonya Rehman Last night’s fashion show in Karachi – where top local designers showcased their take on the new and improved Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) uniform – had to be the most INTERESTING fashion show to be churned out by the Pakistani fashion industry. Well done you guys! Given that PIA’s reputation has been… More The Rebirth of PIA?

Barricaded Heart

By Sonya Rehman Spent the entire morning with my mother on Mall Road; for my ‘last’ photo-walk of sorts – I leave Pakistan in 11 days. We spent a good hour at the Lahore Museum, walking around, taking photos – throughout, my heart was so heavy about leaving Lahore, my home, my family, my dogs.… More Barricaded Heart


By Sonya Rehman Walls reverberating, A car alarm in the distance goes off, “We’re under attack!” my mother screams, Explosions and their sister echoes, Hearts racing, On the roof, In the inky blackness, The explosions have lit up the sky, It’s like the end of the world, But it’s not, Not bombs, Fireworks, Big ones,… More Fireworks


By Sonya Rehman I recently came across a powerful video by Vogue India’s #VogueEmpower initiative titled ‘Boys Don’t Cry,’ check it out on Youtube below. However, for those in Pakistan, where Youtube remains permanently blocked, watch the clip here: I really liked the fact that the video touches upon how boys are raised in our… More #StartWithTheBoys

Remembering Dr. Abdus Salam – Pakistan’s Greatest Scientist

By Sonya Rehman “I am delighted to know that a documentary is in the works on the life story of the great Pakistani physicist, Dr. Abdus Salam. Dr. Salam has been and continues to be an inspiration for children who have a passion for learning, discovering and inventing. His great contribution to Physics is, what he… More Remembering Dr. Abdus Salam – Pakistan’s Greatest Scientist

Pakistani Performer Uncovers Comedy in Taboos, Cultural Crossover

By Sonya Rehman Nadia P. Manzoor, a Pakistani writer and performer based in Brooklyn, New York, has made it her mission to bring to light the struggles of young Pakistani Muslims, immigrants in foreign countries, who struggle to find their identity while growing up in traditional Pakistani homes; the balance between the East and the… More Pakistani Performer Uncovers Comedy in Taboos, Cultural Crossover

The Significance of ‘PK’ in a World at Odds with Itself

By Sonya Rehman I loved the Bollywood movie ‘PK.’ Barring the fact that it stars my childhood crush, Aamir Khan (pehla nasha, pehla khumaaaar!), the movie’s message is a significant one, and what makes it even more powerful is that it was released at a time when questions surrounding religion and faith have managed to… More The Significance of ‘PK’ in a World at Odds with Itself

Protesting in Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman Mohammad Jibran Nasir is a young Pakistani activist from Karachi, leading the popular #ReclaimYourMosques campaign in Pakistan after the brutal Peshawar attack in which more than 130 children were killed in cold blood by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Nasir’s movement was initiated after the Lal Masjid’s imam, Abdul Aziz, refused to condemn the… More Protesting in Pakistan

Priya’s Shakti – A Comic Book Heroine Tackles Rape

By Sonya Rehman The brutal gang rape of a young woman in Delhi, India, in December 2012, had a profound affect on Indian documentary filmmaker, Ram Devineni. The incident led to the creation of Devineni’s comic book, Priya’s Shakti, targeted towards the Indian youth. The book is about a young female superhero who tackles rape… More Priya’s Shakti – A Comic Book Heroine Tackles Rape

The Return of Pakistan’s Premier Theater Group

By Sonya Rehman In the closing months of this year, after a seven-year hiatus, the family-run Rafi Peer Theater Workshop (RPTW), Pakistan’s best-known theater group, has put on a number of festivals at public locations in both Lahore and Islamabad. With the beautiful Mystic Music Sufi Festival, the Youth Performing Arts Festival, and the Dance… More The Return of Pakistan’s Premier Theater Group

Pakistani Start-Up Preserves a Disappearing Craft

By Sonya Rehman Waqas Ali and Sidra Qasim, two young Pakistani entrepreneurs, are on a mission to preserve the art and craft of handmade leather shoes through their start-up, Markhor. A Persian word meaning ‘snake-eater,’ Markhor is also the name of an endangered wild goat – Pakistan’s national animal. In 2010, Waqas Ali was sitting… More Pakistani Start-Up Preserves a Disappearing Craft

Dear Workhorse

By Sonya Rehman I am wondering how, It’s possible, To burn the midnight oil, And still feel a sense of connection, To the ones you love, Ah, Dear workhorse, Don’t fill each hour with to-do lists, And micro plans, Those little accomplishments, What’s it leading to? What are you leading to? Got your blinkers on,… More Dear Workhorse