The Jazz Musicians of Lahore

By Sonya Rehman Izzat Majeed is a man of a few words. At first, his monosyllabic answers can rub you the wrong way, particularly if you’re a little on the sensitive side. You might think he’s either being dismissive, or, that he thinks your questions are rather stupid. Seated behind a large desk at his…

An Ode To Cultural Heritage

By Sonya Rehman As the Aga Khan Cultural Services Pakistan enters its third decade of operations in the country, the organization’s mission to improve socio-economic conditions of rural and urban communities by leveraging the transformative power of cultural heritage has only strengthened. With numerous award-winning projects in the high valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan under its belt,…

Pakistan’s Guardians Of Culture

By Sonya Rehman Running for three consecutive days, the popular Daachi Exhibition, held by the Lahore-based not-for-profit, Daachi Foundation, came to a close last evening. Launched in 2009, the foundation was initiated with the main aim of promoting local arts and crafts in a bid to preserve the country’s rich heritage and culture. And since…

Deradicalizing Pakistan Through Comic Books

By Sonya Rehman He was an unassuming ninth-grader when he was radicalized years ago by a school teacher to join a jihad training camp. Gauher Aftab, one of the co-founders of CFx Comics, a Pakistani comic book start-up, recently wrote a tell-all article about his brush with Islamic extremism and how his experience led him to wage a different…

Pakistani Music: The Road to Revival?

By Sonya Rehman While the Pakistani film industry has made quite a comeback thanks to the rise of a new branch of alternative, local cinema, brought on by independent filmmakers keen to break free from typical, formulaic Lollywood, the local music scene also seems to be following in its footsteps. But wait, we’ll get to…

The Classic Car Collectors of Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman Although you’ve probably never seen a news report where a procession of classic motor glide through the streets of Lahore, there is in fact a thriving community of vintage petrol heads in Pakistan. Here are three of the men at the heart of that group. With a cigarette dangling from his mouth,…

Wall of Tolerance: Lahore Diffuses Terrorism with Community Art

By Sonya Rehman The terrorist attack last week on Easter, at Lahore’s popular Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, which left scores dead and hundreds injured, was nothing short of horrific. Since the attack, the stories of loss and devastation have begun emerging across social media platforms; one in particular was the that of a little girl, now an…

Rekindling The Indo-Pak Connection Through Poetry

By Sonya Rehman Released over Youtube last month by Delhi Poetry Slam, an Indian poet, Shivani Gupta, speaks from the heart in a thoroughly sensitive spoken-word performance that touches upon India, Pakistan and a desire to know and understand ‘the other.’ “Look I’m not here to start a fight,” Gupta speaks in the video, “I just…

The Karachi Whiz Kid and Pakistan’s First Hand Drawn Animated Flick

By Sonya Rehman In 2012, a young, unassuming Pakistani musician from Karachi created waves after being selected as a TEDGlobal Fellow, following the success of his brilliant composition, Fire Fly, which went viral a year before. Sharing stage space at TEDGlobal – a conference that brings together trailblazers from across the world to deliver inspiring talks – with…

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…

Ms. Marvel – The Teenage Superhero

By Sonya Rehman Remember Kamala Khan, aka, Ms. Marvel, the Muslim teen superheroine launched last year by Marvel Comics? For comic book enthusiasts in the UAE, get this; the popular series is currently available in both Arabic and English across eleven countries in the MENA region thanks to Al Ahli Publishing and Distribution, which became…

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…

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…

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…

Meeting the Master of Fresco Art in Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman Through the waiting area, past the main desk, and up the stairs, the SEFAM office (on Waris Road, in Lahore, Pakistan) is in full swing. It’s a huge floor with endless rows of desks. Amidst rolls of fabric in various patterns and hues, young designers are hard at work on their computers….

Reclaiming Pakistan, One City at a Time

By Sonya Rehman Just a couple of months old, “Super Karachi Express,” a tourist bus company in the metropolitan city of Karachi, in Pakistan, has set out to make culture cool in a country exhausted, overwhelmed and worn out amidst the ongoing, unrelenting sectarian violence. Co-founded by Atif Bin Arif, a young Pakistani based in…

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…

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…

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…

Pakistan’s First Woman Cartoonist Shapes Young Minds and Society

By Sonya Rehman This year Nigar Nazar, the first professional woman cartoonist in Pakistan and, quite possibly, the Muslim world, was named one of the 100 Women of 2014 by the BBC. Nazar began her career in the 1970s, and her cartoon character Gogi has not only been published widely within Pakistan, in an assortment…

Youth in Full Bloom

By Sonya Rehman We’ve just driven up to Alhamra Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. She’s all lit up in pretty lights, colourful flags and posters – decorated in the Rafi Peer Theater Workshop’s [RPTW] signature style. The organization’s 13th Youth Performing Arts Festival [YPAF] is well under way – running from the 16th to the 19th…

Her Quirky Art World

By Sonya Rehman On the surface, Mahnoor Hussain’s contemporary miniature art depicts a world that is ridiculously amusing and tragically hilarious…veering off into a unique brand of nuttiness. However upon closer inspection, Hussain’s paintings point towards grim themes that explore human psychosis: self-delusion, mania, isolation and more. In an interview with Paperazzi, the immensely talented…

Pakistan: A Revolution in the Arts?

By Sonya Rehman Meet Shoaib Iqbal, a young Pakistani working to trigger a nationwide revolution in the arts. “The Little Art,” Iqbal’s brainchild, is a non-profit that works with public and private schools across Pakistan to equip children (irrespective of caste, creed and color) with the leadership skills, creativity, critical thinking, and confidence they need…

A Mosque for all Seasons

By Sonya Rehman Endearingly referred to as a “mole on the cheek of Lahore,” the glorious Wazir Khan Mosque, situated in the heart of the city, dates back to the 1600s. Established during the Mughal era by Hakim Shaikh Ilm-ud-din Ansari (also known as ‘Wazir Khan’), who was the Governor of Lahore, and also a…

From War came Art

By Sonya Rehman I realize this has been said/written about before, but the ‘war on terror’ (and what followed, till date) has made Pakistan an intriguing, exciting country for foreigners to understand and discover. Fashion shows, literature festivals, theatre festivals and cultural exchange programs are being initiated, planned, rolled out and hosted regularly. Think about…

Daughters of Lahore

By Sonya Rehman On a cloudy weekday this month, sisters, Afshan Ejaz and Noshi Ejaz are putting together a modern-looking clay pot at Shehrezade Alam’s workshop in Lahore. Alam, Pakistan’s acclaimed female potter is not in at the moment, but Afshan (the older of the two) chirpily tells me that she’ll be joining us shortly….

Desi by Design

By Sonya Rehman This month, the Daachi Foundation – a not-for-profit initiative that aims at promoting the local arts and crafts – hosted a wonderful art exhibition at Lahore’s glorious Tollington Market. On a nippy December day, the market was abuzz. Amidst stalls and tables, local Pakistani artisans had put up their beautiful wares for…

“Allah rung laavay”

By Sonya Rehman They are everywhere. Those heavy-set Gods of the highway, those mammoth trucks in their entire jazzy splendor. The swirls, the motifs, the colours, the patterns, the tigers, the peacocks, the parrots, the lions, and the roses, the thick lashes on singular eyes, the lips, and (at times) the face of a politician,…

Pakistan: Fighting Terrorism with Tourism

By Sonya Rehman In June, Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) militants bombed and attacked the home of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah – the Founding Father of Pakistan. Situated in Ziarat, and well-known for its Juniper forest (the second largest in the world), the beautiful, picturesque home, with its quaint wooden exterior, stood as an integral part…

Mother, Daughter Preserve Art Form in One of World’s Most Volatile Places

By Sonya Rehman From beautiful coasters to colorful tiles, stunning table tops and other accessories, Pakistani entrepreneur, Farhana Asad, along with her artisans, has been producing meticulous works of art that involve the use of semi-precious stones to produce stunning, intricate mosaic works in an explosion of colors. Farhana’s works of art involve the application…

In New Delhi, a Transplanted Trinidadian Pursues His Kathak Dream

By Sonya Rehman They say art has no boundaries, and in the case of Quincy Kendell Charles, the saying couldn’t be more apt. A native of Trinidad, Charles was only 15 years old when he first discovered Kathak, a popular Indian classical dance form, while watching a television program in Trinidad. The young, graceful Kathak…

Kachee Goliyan – Pakistan’s very own Marvel/DC Comics?

By Sonya Rehman While a handful of Pakistani animators, such as Mir Zafar Ali, Asim Fida Khan, and Wajid Raza, among others, stand as living, breathing Hollywood success stories, Pakistan’s animation industry remains in a fledgling stage. While there are a number of notable Pakistani cartoonists such as Nigar Nazar, Pakistan’s first female cartoonist, and…

Rainbow Rickshaws: Pakistan’s Vehicles of Peace

By Sonya Rehman They’re bright, they’re colorful and they carry messages of peace. Some 35 multi-colored rickshaws are whizzing around the thriving metropolis of Karachi, Pakistan, as part of an initiative by the youth-based NGO Pakistan Youth Alliance [PYA] to counter messages of hostility and fanaticism often splashed across the noisy little three-wheeled vehicles. And…

Journeys on Canvas

By Sonya Rehman Vivid, dramatic colours, a Maharani, a tiger, a fox, and Moroccan rose sellers – Shirin Sahba, an artist based in China, produces art that is dreamy and ethereal. Her series of paintings have a certain, enchanting quality about them – they appear as faraway stories, set in distant lands, faceless characters and…

Inaugural Lahore Literary Festival Draws Major Names and Capacity Crowds

By Sonya Rehman Featuring renowned Pakistani and foreign novelists, poets, journalists, historians and other scholars, the inaugural Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) drew capacity crowds to the Alhamra Arts Council on Mall Road on February 23 and 24, 2013. Tariq Ali, William Dalrymple, Tehmina Durrani, Musharraf Ali Farooqi, Mohsin Hamid, Intizar Husain, Ayesha Jalal, Ahmed Rashid,…

The Lahore Literary Festival [LLF]

By Sonya Rehman The Lahore Literary Festival [LLF] made its debut this February in 2013, featuring some of the biggest names from the literary world – from both Pakistan and abroad. The event took place at Alhamra (on Mall Road) in Lahore, on the 23rd and 24th of February. Spoke with some interesting people on…

HELLO! Pakistan Chats with Ghazala Rahman

By Sonya Rehman In her beautiful home, furniture designer, Ghazala Rahman, talks about her love for craftsmanship and the journey that led to her furniture outlet, ‘Indesign.’ Ghazala Rahman, the woman behind the well-known furniture shop in Lahore cuts an intriguing figure. She is a dignified woman, bold in her approach to her work and…

Paying Tribute to the Legends of Lollywood

Waheed Murad, Sultan Rahi, Mohammad Ali and Mustafa Qureshi – all contributed to Pakistani cinema extensively, entertaining generations with their craft. By Sonya Rehman Waheed Murad The handsome poster boy of the swinging 60s and 70s, the blue-eyed boy of local cinema, Waheed Murad – dubbed as ‘Chocolate Hero’ – stands as one of the…

Shining the Spotlight on Lollywood’s Finest Stars, Featuring Exclusive Images from well-known Fashion Photographer, Tapu Javeri

By Sonya Rehman Featuring some of the most well-known Pakistani film industry trail-blazers this month, we collaborate with Tapu Javeri who has photographed the country’s leading and iconic celebrities for years. In this exclusive feature, Tapu shares with HELLO! Pakistan some of his photographs from his books: Tapulicious Volume I (published in 2010) and Tapulicious…

A New Play Comes to Islamabad

By Sonya Rehman Last month, sitting in a house in Islamabad, four actors were two weeks into rehearsals for their play, ‘God of Carnage’ – an intense, albeit, comedic play written by the French playwright, Yasmina Reza. The play, performed in London in 2008 – starred Ralph Fiennes, while Jeff Daniels and James Gandolfini (among…

‘Liberalism’ in Pakistani Society is Solely Defined by its Artist Community

By Sonya Rehman Recently, I came across an article  penned by a Pakistani journalist for Reuters. The author had written about “the secret side of Pakistan,” vis-à-vis underground parties, girls in skirts, and alcohol guzzling youngsters – basically a gora’s mini-guide to how the liberal elite in Pakistan party it up. The article got me…

Catching up with Pakistan’s Literati

By Sonya Rehman HELLO! Pakistan talks to well-known Pakistanis closely associated with the writing and publishing business to find out their opinion on the country’s literary scene. Is Pakistan’s English literary scene flourishing, or, are there only a handful of established Pakistani authors (who write in English) that are given coverage by the media over…

Painting the Iconic Marilyn Monroe with a Pakistani Twist!

By Sonya Rehman 24-year-old Karachi-based artist, Summaiya Jillani, took a little over two weeks to paint her version of the iconic, beautiful, Marilyn Monroe. Featured in colourful ethnic wear, with her braided, blond hair draped on one side of her shoulder, in addition to chunky earrings, the painting is pop art eccentric, animated and pretty…

Artist Laila Rahman on the backdrop for ‘The Taming of the Shrew’

By Sonya Rehman   It took independent painter, Laila Rahman, nine days to complete the large (12.5 feet in height and 9.5 feet in width), oil on canvas backdrop for the Urdu adapted version of Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ – a production that was performed at The Globe in London. “It was great…

Ministry of Sound comes to Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman Well-known dance brand, Ministry of Sound kick-started its 2012 world tour with Lahore, Pakistan as its first destination on the 18th of February. The renowned Dutch DJ and Record Producer, Sander Kleinenberg, was set to spin his magic in the city thanks to ‘Full Circle Corporate Marketing (FCCM)’, a local event management…

Lives Forsaken at the Bahawalpur Zoo

By Sonya Rehman Published by Markings, ‘BHV Zoo’, by Karachi-based photographer, Amean J, is a somber, melancholic depiction of the animals that inhabit the Bahawalpur Zoo. Set against stark, white pages, the black and white photographs illustrate a forlorn, ghost-like ambience of the zoo, with animals who wear expressions of abandonment, and resignation to life….

Karachi Comedian Eventually Finds Laughs in Lahore

By Sonya Rehman From diapers to the Taliban and synchronised wedding dances to gym workouts, there wasn’t much real-life terrain that Sami Shah didn’t cover to ensure his unfamiliar audience was in fits of laughter. But it didn’t start out that way. It was a Sunday, the last day of the three-day event, and the…