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A space for Lyari-based filmmakers to tell their stories

By Zoya Anwer
May 04, 2018

The spacious room of the Sindh Tech Skills Development Centre in Khadda Market, Lyari, was packed with visitors last week with many queuing in the back of the room to watch the seven films screened at the Lyari Film Numaish.

The event, which was organised by the Sindh Tech Skills Development Centre in collaboration with the Goethe Institut, catered to filmmakers from Lyari only in order to give them a platform to tell their own stories.

The short films – ‘Mein Hero’, ‘Guli’, ‘Lyari at a Glance’, ‘Don Akhbar’, ‘Goal’, ‘Ghoongh’ and ‘Lyari: A Prison without Walls’ – narrated the tales of the area which was severely affected by violence just a few years ago.

While some films depicted the struggles of the residents as they strive to prove themselves with limited opportunities, others depicted their plight as their lives revolved around the episodes of clashes between various groups in the locality.

Film ‘Lyari at a Glance’ by Sabeer Ahmed showed the area’s history squeezed into five minutes, while Adeel Wali Rais’s ‘Goal’ was about a passionate but realist football player going to Barcelona, Spain to represent Pakistan, who knows his future in sports isn’t very bright yet he doesn’t want to give up.

Dostain Baloch’s ‘Don Akhbar’, a documentary which has been screened in other forums as well, addressed the importance of the area’s newspaper, Janbaaz – a paper which breaches the ethics of print media by publishing gory images and contemptible statements of local leaders. Abdul Wahid and Basit Askani’s ‘Ghoongh’ was a fictional story about a young mute man who sells newspaper to support his ailing father and sister. His father succumbs to death when he is unable to deliver the medicine after he is intercepted by goons.

The last film, ‘Lyari: A Prison without Walls’ by Nazeen Baloch, the only woman director, revolved around a boy who is obsessed with football like his father but life comes full-circle for him when he has to give up on the dream to play for the national team to earn money to pay for his mother’s treatment.

The screenings were followed by a discussion between the directors of the films and with filmmaker Meher Jaffri in which the participants spoke about the inspiration behind their work and their commitment to change the stereotypical narrative about Lyari.

Fahim Shad, the director of ‘Mein Hero’ shared that he was unimpressed by the representation of his neighbourhood in the media, especially when reporters would come and ask anyone and everyone about the gang-war leaders, implying that the residents were equally involved in the violence.

“Once a journalist compared Lyari with Waziristan, which was not only distasteful but hurtful as well,” said Shad. “After witnessing such incidences, I and many of my friends decided to tell our own stories, to provide the counter narrative to tell the other side of the story.”

While answering a question about promoting a positive image of Lyari instead of showing its difficult past, Dostain Baloch said that filmmakers were mere observers and they show the reality as it is.

“We are just telling our stories which have been affected by the past, and there have been many positive ones as well. I think as residents of Lyari, we just need to focus on sharing our tales, as they are, and those very tales will break the stereotypes set about our people,” he explained.

Researcher Nida Kirmani, who gave opening remarks during the programme, said that the response to the event exceeded their expectations and they were glad to see a lot of women attendees. She added that the organisers hoped to hold more such events in future.