An Anthropologist’s 20-Year Quest To Document Pakistan’s Ancient Rock Art

By Sonya Rehman Pakistani anthropologist, Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro, is a man on a mission. Having spent over two decades tirelessly researching art and culture in Pakistan, Kalhoro stands as possibly the only Pakistani who has documented the country’s most ancient rock art, some of which can be traced back to prehistoric times. With eleven … More An Anthropologist’s 20-Year Quest To Document Pakistan’s Ancient Rock Art

Artist Wardha Shabbir On Connecting The Dots In Her Beloved City

By Sonya Rehman Since she was a child, Wardha Shabbir would often watch her mother meticulously tend to their garden which was often full of pretty foliage, including a vegetable patch and also a mango, guava and pomegranate tree. In her free time, Shabbir’s mother would draw little “motifs with very fine lines.” Her mother’s … More Artist Wardha Shabbir On Connecting The Dots In Her Beloved City

In Conversation With Zahra Paracha – A Rising Star In Pakistani Music

By Sonya Rehman Singer and music producer, Zahra Paracha, found her refuge in music from a young age. Having endured a personal setback which affected her deeply for years, the artiste sought an outlet where she’d be able to express herself without fear and judgment. Words felt pointless, almost trivializing her pain, but it was … More In Conversation With Zahra Paracha – A Rising Star In Pakistani Music

Rediscovering Pakistan’s Cultural History

By Sonya Rehman 43-year-old photographer, Maria Waseem, attributes her passion for documenting Pakistan’s heritage through photography as a “gift” from her mother. While growing up in Mangla, Azad Kashmir, Waseem recalls watching her mother develop photographs in a darkroom set up in their house. At the time, Waseem’s mother was working on her college thesis and … More Rediscovering Pakistan’s Cultural History

Her Ode To Lahore

By Sonya Rehman When the Covid-19 crisis hit last year, 28-year-old Ifrah Khan turned to a craft that she had enjoyed practicing for years as a hobby. During the early months of the pandemic, she desperately needed to ground herself and find some solace in art. For Khan, jewelry-making has always been a process that … More Her Ode To Lahore

Crafting Minimalist Jewellery With A Touch Of Heritage And Folklore

By Sonya Rehman Designing jewelry for a little over two decades, Puja Bhargava Kamath’s pieces are a glorious balance of understated design and traditional aesthetic, with a strong emphasis on craftsmanship. Having steadily made a name for herself in jewelry design through her label, Lai, the New Delhi native (currently residing in California), works with master … More Crafting Minimalist Jewellery With A Touch Of Heritage And Folklore

The ‘Flower Craft’ Artisan From Hazara

By Sonya Rehman Throughout her life, Naseem Akhtar had a natural inclination towards hand embroideries. As a young woman, she would stitch gorgeous cushion covers in her free time, while also experiment with crochet work. However, when she got married, Akhtar and her husband were struggling to make ends meet. It was around this time that she … More The ‘Flower Craft’ Artisan From Hazara

How One Scottish-Pakistani Designer Is Helping Sustain Traditional Needlework In Chitral Valley

By Sonya Rehman Growing up in Edinburgh, Scotland, as a young Pakistani, designer Adil Iqbal consistently felt driven to connect with his roots. What did the Pakistani identity entail? And more importantly, what did Iqbal’s own identity encompass as a Scottish-Pakistani born to immigrant parents? It was these very questions which inspired Iqbal to begin … More How One Scottish-Pakistani Designer Is Helping Sustain Traditional Needlework In Chitral Valley

The ‘Jewel From Cholistan’ Leaves Behind A Lasting Legacy

By Sonya Rehman The acclaimed Pakistani folk singer, Krishan Lal Bheel, passed away last week following serious health issues. Leaving behind his wife and two children, the arc of Bheel’s career was rich and vibrant, much like his larger-than-life personality. Hailing from Cholistan, a desert in South Punjab, Bheel began his career in singing over … More The ‘Jewel From Cholistan’ Leaves Behind A Lasting Legacy

This Pakistani Streetwear Brand Is One To Look Out For

By Sonya Rehman It’s hip, it’s edgy and it epitomizes South Asian streetwear. Rastah, an Urdu word meaning path or journey, is a Pakistani fashion label which is swiftly beginning to carve its very own, gritty niche in the global streetwear industry. Launched in 2018 by Zain Ahmad, Adnan Ahmad and Ishmail Ahmad, the founders … More This Pakistani Streetwear Brand Is One To Look Out For

A Conversation With Lollywood Screenwriter Nasir Adeeb

By Sonya Rehman With 412 films to his credit, veteran Pakistani writer, Nasir Adeeb, needs no introduction. Having started out as a clerk in the once prolific Pakistani film industry, Lollywood, Adeeb’s early days as a struggling writer were filled with hardships and self-doubt. At the time, the film industry was exceptionally hard to break … More A Conversation With Lollywood Screenwriter Nasir Adeeb

Meet The Photographer Using Instagram To Highlight Culture In Sindh

By Sonya Rehman Emmanuel Mansingh was only 9-years-old when he discovered National Geographic magazines belonging to Christian missionaries in a church in the city of Nawabshah (in Sindh, Pakistan) that his father used to work in. At the time, Mansingh was enchanted by the magazine’s pictures featuring tribes, cultures and communities around the world. “I remember feeling … More Meet The Photographer Using Instagram To Highlight Culture In Sindh

Hitting The Right Notes: Pakistani Music’s Comeback

By Sonya Rehman After refining her craft in music production in Canada for five years, Haniya Aslam, returned to Pakistan last year to pick up from where she left off. A part of the local music scene for over a decade, Aslam thinks that the new phase in Pakistani music, that’s swiftly unfolding, is an exciting … More Hitting The Right Notes: Pakistani Music’s Comeback

A Palace Full Of Secrets

By Sonya Rehman A little over two hours, an assorted playlist and insipid coffee (from a petrol station) later, we arrive at our destination in the heart of the historic Chiniot city in Pakistan. Maneuvering through cramped lanes, past sputtering rickshaws, vegetable vendors and furniture shops with their beautiful pieces on full display (side note: … More A Palace Full Of Secrets

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, … More An Ode To Cultural Heritage

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 … More Deradicalizing Pakistan Through Comic Books

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 … More Wall of Tolerance: Lahore Diffuses Terrorism with Community Art

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 … More Rekindling The Indo-Pak Connection Through Poetry

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

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

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

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!

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

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 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

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 … More Pakistan’s First Woman Cartoonist Shapes Young Minds and Society

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 … More Youth in Full Bloom

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 … More Her Quirky Art World

Lahore’s Last ‘Lollywood’ Poster Artist Looks Back on a 50-Year-Career

By Sonya Rehman It takes us (my photographer and I) a good 20 minutes or so to find his office. The tiny lanes are claustrophobic and busy as we drive past tea-sellers, donkey carts, badly parked cars and motorbikes, printing shops and offices that seem to spill over in a mesh of weekday chaos. We … More Lahore’s Last ‘Lollywood’ Poster Artist Looks Back on a 50-Year-Career

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 … More Pakistan: A Revolution in the Arts?

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 … More From War came Art

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. … More Daughters of Lahore

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 … More Desi by Design