An Old Path, A New Beginning

By Sonya Rehman With the onset of the new year, I’ve decided I’m going to devour atleast two books a month. Frittering away the hours on social media makes me feel numb and dumb. Currently, I’m reading two books simultaneously: the first is a work of fiction, A Strangeness In My Mind by Orhan Pamuk,…

Portals

By Sonya Rehman Down roads and dark, narrow streets, how lovely to peer into windows from afar: a portal into another life, another heart. Who sits on that wicker chair set close to the window? Is someone awake, dreaming and longing for what is out of reach? A dog barks incessantly, throaty, commanding… a few…

The Last Letter From 2015

Dear Reader, The new year is here – how surreal. Did the year whiz by for you, too? I’ve never really written a year end note, I’ve always wanted to, ever since I began this blog/online archive in 2007…gosh, has it really been that long? Anyway. I’ve been sitting on this note for days now,…

Beauty Beyond Borders

By Sonya Rehman Mahira Khan lights up the screen – be it on the small screen in a drama serial or on the big screen, in a feature film, she’s a complete natural, an earnest star, the eternal girl next door with an unshakable earthy vibe. A loveable artiste who embodies each character given to…

Bollywood Legend Visits Pakistan Encouraging Indo-Pak Artist Collaborations

By Sonya Rehman Kicking off with much fanfare this month, the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop’s three-day International Film Festival in Lahore showcased a number of Pakistani and foreign productions, in addition to bringing together renowned Pakistani and Bollywood A-listers, film critics and movie buffs on one dais. But perhaps the highlight of the evening was the attendance…

Of Nargis and Other Demons

By Sonya Rehman As if we don’t have enough issues to kick up a storm about in Pakistan, a Mobilink print advertisement published in a local Pakistani daily publication featuring Bollywood actress, Nargis Fakhri, was denounced by members of the moral brigade for corrupting an unadulterated (!) society and spreading vulgarity in the country. After a…

Foggy Reverie

By Sonya Rehman The fog tonight is thick and surreal. No matter how difficult things may get in Lahore, in one’s birth place, it is moments like these which make one recollect old memories, past dreams, one’s youth and innocence – everything raked up again…reminding you of who you were, who you’ve become, reminding you…

Airports

By Sonya Rehman The Dubai airport is freezing as hell. I’m so glad I’m wearing a blazer and a light scarf (midnight blue with tiny blue sequins – bought it in a rush because it caught my eye, looked like the night sky painted across a roll of fabric). Even though I was sweating through…

Fatherless Daughters

By Sonya Rehman Fatherless daughters, Don’t constantly seek validation, Or approval from a phantom man, Allow masculine energy to steer the reigns of your life, Call upon it, But don’t be so brazen and hardened to let your dreams die, No, Let them be nurtured with every ounce of your feminine, sensitive being, Allow a…

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…

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…

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…

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)…

The Cantt-Jumeirah Postcard

By Sonya Rehman Hi, Hope you’ve been wonderful. A quick note, some musings: Home is where people who care about you are. Not happy about leaving Lahore this week, but have to. It’s imperative to take time out for yourself now and then, to pause and just do simple household chores: wash the dishes, iron…

Lessons from a Budgie

By Sonya Rehman Z had packed up her apartment within a week. She, the kids and her husband were leaving Dubai after years to start a new chapter in another country. I wasn’t too happy knowing she was going to leave. After all, here was one person who I’d grown up with, who represented ‘home’…

“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…

The Katti Batti Diaries

By Sonya Rehman Recently in Dubai for the promotions of their film, Katti Batti, Kangana Ranaut and Imran Khan speak about their roles in the upcoming Bollywood movie and dish out advice on love and relationships… Could you tell me a bit about your character, Payal? Kangana: I can’t really reveal everything about the character…

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…

“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…

Doesn’t This Feel Like Home?

By Sonya Rehman Pad-locked heart, Welcome home, Those lost continents of your heart, Time to set sail, And re-discover, Who you lost, And how, Handing out pieces of you, An empty pantry, Generosity like that, Is stupidity, You should’ve left, Some golden honey, On those scarce days, Empathy can cost you, Too much, too much,…

Manjhi – A Real Life Hero

By Sonya Rehman A gripping story of a man and a mountain, of resilience and passion, Ketan Mehta’s Manjhi – The Mountain Man is one of the most riveting, moving, must-see films of 2015. An Ordinary Hero In the small village of Gehlaur (Bihar, India), there lived a man, a poor peasant who spent over…

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…

Review: Dekh Magar Pyaar Say

By Sonya Rehman Released this month, the Pakistani film, Dekh Magar Pyaar Say (DMPS), has to be one of the most ridiculous films I’ve ever seen. Heck, even Punjabi gandasa flicks have better storylines, and that’s where DMPS truly fell short. Starring the gorgeous Sikander Rizvi (what genes) – better known as ‘Sonya Jehan’s brother,’…

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…

The Evolution of Fawad Khan

By Sonya Rehman In the news recently for walking out of Battle for Bittora and then bagging Vogue’s Most Beautiful Male award in Mumbai, the charming, debonair actor, with his self-assured smile that makes many a heart flutter, has come a long way. In 2007, after interviewing him immediately after his debut in the Pakistani…

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…

Notes from a Gold August

By Sonya Rehman i. Why does it take the eyes of another to appreciate the beauty within? I’ve been feeling this so strongly ever since Humans of New York’s beautiful posts on Pakistan started doing the circuit online. The trouble is, rejection makes one doubt one’s worth. That’s Pakistan. The misunderstood, the rejected. So many…

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…

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…

“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…

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…

Gulmohar

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…

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….

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…

Bollywood’s Brave New Stars

By Sonya Rehman Last month, the outspoken Bollywood actor, Kalki Koechlin, created ripples by sharing a dark secret with the world: how she endured abuse as a young child. In an up close and personal interview with the popular Facebook page, Humans of Bombay, Kalki opened up about her excruciatingly painful past to encourage people…

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…

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…

Fashion’s Cross-border Connection

Sonya Rehman The mesh of Bollywood and Pakistani fashion: how Bollywood beauties have launched big lawn brands across the border, in Pakistan. Lawn has fast become a force to be reckoned with in Pakistan. Each summer, Pakistani designers designing lawn have been in fierce competition with one another, working neck to neck to ensure solid…

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,…

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…

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…

Fiza Farhan: A Pakistani Change-maker

By Sonya Rehman For 28-year-old Fiza Farhan, being caught up in a 9-5 job was hardly appealing. Rather than just another cog in the corporate machine, she always wanted to make an impact on Pakistani society. Working as the CEO and Co-Founder of a local microfinance institution, the Buksh Foundation, and the Director of Buksh…

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….

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…

Fireworks

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,…

#StartWithTheBoys

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…

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…