Veteran TV writer Noorul Huda Shah in conversation with writer Asif Farrukhi in the session titled Jilawatan Se Jungle Tak.
The first day of the seventh edition of Karachi Literature Festival ended yesterday on a high note. Despite the fact that Nandita Das (dropped out of the festival at the last minute due to bad health) and Anupam Kher (visa issues) couldn’t make it, there were plenty of literary icons and intriguing sessions on display that had attendees interested. One such session - Jilawatan Se Jungle Tak – featured television veteran Noor ul Huda Shah as she spoke at length to renowned writer and intellectual Asif Farrukhi.
The session, attended by several notables from the literary world, was riveting as Noor ul Huda talked about different aspects of her career. Asif Farrukhi kept the mood light and humourous as the conversation veered from Huda’s early days as a short-story writer to her jump into poetry and finally her days as TV serial writer (and the enormous success of the hit TV show, Jungle).
Noor ul Huda Shah, in turn, spoke about her mother, her mother tongue and her love for Sindhi language. She told the audience about another Noor ul Huda Shah (who was named so after the success of Jungle) and confessed that had she not belonged to a Syed household, she might not have been able to write about the topics she eventually did. The narration of her poem and short story captivated the audience who clapped in applause, quite generously.
The veteran writer later disclosed that once Jamiluddin Aali sahib was surprised to learn that she was a Sindhi writer (writing in Urdu) as he considered her Ahl-e-Zaban to which she retorted that I consider myself Bay-Zaban. The conversation inevitably moved to the topic: why dramas from the ’80s were better and as the one-hour mark was reached, it didn’t seem enough because the conversation was riveting and intelligent. All in all, this was a session worth one’s investment of time and energy.
In comparison, the second session that caught our attention (and sadly didn’t live up to expectation) was the book launch of Ali Khan and Ali Nobil Ahmed’s Cinema and Society: Film and Social Change in Pakistan.
This particular session seemed doomed from the start since two of the speakers – Meenu Gaur and Ali Khan – didn’t make it to Karachi. Consequently, the audience had to make do with moderator Asif Noorani (who chose to speak rather than listen). It would’ve made more sense to feature Noorani as a speaker rather than the moderator.
Meanwhile journalist/ filmmaker Hasan Zaidi – who was featured on the panel as one of the speakers would have been the ideal person to moderate this session.
Instead of promoting a book on Pakistani cinema, Noorani started the session with critique, which was unexpected given the fact that there aren’t many books on Pakistani cinema to begin with.
Halfway through the session, people in the audience started leaving as they thought that the author was being targeted needlessly. I agree. Even Hasan Zaidi wasn’t allowed to speak freely and that’s not Asif Noorani’s fault. People would have loved to listen to him had he not been the moderator.
The book launch became sort of a book-critique session and if the KLF is serious in making people aware of books and nudge them towards reading, they must choose their moderators wisely in the future.
- Omair Alavi is a freelance broadcast journalist and can be contacted at [email protected]