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Faiz International Festival: A candid view of world spinning out of control

LAHORE: Recollections about Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s literary genius and discussion on current affairs were the highlight of third day’s activities at the international festival at the Alhamra Art Center, The Mall, on Saturday.

“War and peace in the 21st century” was the title of a well-attended session in which British-Pakistani writer, journalist and filmmaker Tariq Ali presented his views about the global political situation in a candid manner. Moderated by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Secretary-General I.A. Rehman, the session received applause and made the audience reflect.

Mr Ali threw light on the developments in the Middle East and the hegemony of the USA and its military prowess. Once Pakistan would be destabilised, he warned, it would create mayhem in the region.

Other sessions throw light on Faiz’s literary contribution and facets of his life

He referred to the countries such as Iraq and Libya where things had gone worse due to military aggression. He said the USA had no clear plan when it attacked Iraq whose social structure was damaged. He said Nato bombarded Libya for six months.

In another session, poet Zehra Nigah in conversation with Saleem Hashmi shared the memories of Faiz, especially the days when he was staying at her palace in London. She talked about Faiz as a poet, a human being and a friend.

She said it was a pleasant experience that she spent time with Faiz in London.

Saying that even common people loved Faiz despite having nothing to do with his poetry, she recalled that once in London a person came to her house carrying a heavy bag. After a brief introduction, he said he had just come to present a bagful of biscuits to Faiz who, according to him, had gone weak as he saw Faiz somewhere in London. The only relation he had with Faiz was that he was his city fellow since he was from Sialkot and would work in a London’s biscuit factory, she said.

“Faiz was a down-to-earth person and I have never seen him angry,” she said. What kind of breakfast Faiz used to have while in London? “He had separate breakfast for every day; one day he would eat cereal, the next day a boiled egg and omelet on another day. He was very fond of omelet with thinly-cut onions,” she said.

She said Faiz also had great passion for filmmaking because he was of the view that actual medium was film that instantly finds place in one’s heart. And the message conveyed through cinema was the most powerful one. Faiz, she said, also made a film ‘Jago Huwa Sawera’ but could not complete his second film.

He would never criticise or show impatience for the young poets who would come to him to show their verses but would always ask them to keep trying, she said and concluded by reciting Faiz’s poetry including ‘Moti Ho Kay Sheesha Jam Kay Dur.’

Indian filmmaker, fashion designer and poet Muzaffar Ali in conversation with Sarmad Khoosat and Mira Hashmi said poetry was mother of all arts and he had learnt this art from Faiz. He said poetry was a big driving force and a mirror to society.

As for his choice of Rekha and Farooq Sheikh in his famous film ‘Umrao Jan Adda’, he said a woman strongly perceives culture and casting for a film is the most essential and difficult thing. He said he chose Rekha because of her explicit eyes. As for Farooq Sheikh, he said in a lighter vein the film needed a “lovable fool”. Farooq immersed himself into the role. He said before making the film he read the novel at least 50 times.

Part of the events was launch of a book ‘Zikar-e-Faiz’ by Mazhar Jamil. It was moderated by Arifa Syeda. The writer said he had several meetings with Faiz and the book explored the life and works of Faiz. He said it was difficult for him to write this book because much had been written on Faiz and he also had to select factual things for the biography.

Also, the Children’s International Book Launch on Faiz and puppetry workshop with Uncle Sargam (Farooq Qaiser) attracted quite a few people.

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