Turkey is the dust of an ancient empire, the backyard of Europe, the outskirts of the Arab world, hence it feels familiar. Whether it’s their television series or their literature, somewhere along these lines we see a reflection of Pakistani culture.
Recently, renowned actor, director and academic, Navid Shahzad launched her debut book titled ‘Aslan’s Roar’ with a star-studded evening in Lahore. The book examines the Turkish TV industry in detail and makes a case for the rise of a Muslim hero as a counterfoil to the prevailing dominant image of the western hero. The launch event featured an introduction to the author by former FBR Chairman Salman Siddiq who spoke about his onetime mentor at the Department of English Literature at the Punjab University with much appreciation. This was followed by a reading which gave the attendees an insight into the text’s perspective and subject matter.
Well known for her perfect enunciation, dialogue delivery and expression, Navid Shahzad’s reading was a treat for the audience which included former Governor Punjab, Shahid Hamid, Chairperson Alhamra Arts Council Muneeza Hashmi and her illustrious sister Saleema Hashmi, one of Pakistan’s foremost artists Ijaz ul Hassan, former Principal Aitchison College, author and well-known historian Fakir Syed Ijazuddin, renowned Punjabi poetesses Sarwat Mohyuddin and Anjum Qureshi. Moreover, artist Shahnawaz Zaidi, author and educationist Mira Hashmi, actors Fawad Khan and Adeel Hashmi lent a special flavour to the evening with their presence.
Published by Sang-e-Meel Publications, the book is a handsome four hundred-page research work which discusses the symbiotic nature of television and culture while positioning present day media narratives and fiction amidst powerful trends influencing contemporary TV myth making. It argues for the possibility of a ‘middle way’ for Muslims positioned between a seductive modernity and tradition through a study of Turkish and Muslim identities as represented in western and non-western film and TV narratives.
The book has received critical appraise with Arundhati Roy’s literary agent terming it as ‘brilliantly written’ while noted Pakistani poet and author, Harris Khalique describes it as a ‘remarkably insightful work on the emergence and growth of Turkish TV drama.’
About the launch Navid Shahzad said, “The event was a marvellous but humbling experience. Old friends and new came to listen, share and celebrate. In many ways, the evening was reminiscent of a Lahore that appears to be vanishing. Talking about books, music and the arts was a special feature of this magical city and this evening has inspired me to have such events on a fortnightly basis. I plan on calling it ‘The Salon Series’.”
‘Aslan’s Roar’ is available nationwide at Liberty Books, Variety Books in Lahore and Mr. Books and Saeed Book Bank in Islamabad. The paperback version will shortly make an appearance on digital platforms such as Amazon and Kindle.
— A. Jafri