Lyari Notes is a documentary about four young girls and their love for music that encourages them to defy situations and take a ride all the way from Lyari, one of Karachi’s most crime-ridden areas, to Hamza Jaffri and Nida Butt’s MAD School. Their lessons come free of cost yet it’s a tough call the girls are making for not only do they have to travel from Lyari but their families are least interested in their musical learning. Lyari Notes seems to be a risky project for its maker Maheen Zia but that risk transcended borders, too. A film about Pakistan, shot in Pakistan has in fact been edited and completed in India by Miriam Chandy Menacherry. It’s a unique collaboration of sorts that wasn’t as easy to pull off.
In a recent interview with The Hindu, co-director Maheen confessed that not only was it hard to film the story but it was also particularly difficult to coordinate between India and Pakistan given the hostility that surrounds the politics of the two nations. For instance, there were hassles in sharing the IDFA Bertha Fund between India and Pakistan that nearly threatened the continuity of the project. “Eventually it was crowd funding that got us out of that sticky patch. We managed to raise over 11,000 Euros from about 100 donors, who were more than just family and friends,” Zia told The Hindu.
“There are these four girls, best friends, who find their own voice at a time of escalating violence - that is a soft angle. It was a delicate balancing act, and between Indian and Pakistan, for over three years, we’d shoot and edit and go back and forth until it worked itself out,” Miriam added.
However, overcoming all these challenges, the film premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) last month to much appreciation from critics and audiences alike. A shorter version of the 70-minute film will be shown on Al Jazeera this month but the two makers hope to showcase the film in their respective countries soon.