Sunday February 05, 2023

‘Indus Blues’ screened at PNCA

By Aijaz Gul
June 15, 2019

Islamabad : Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) and NGO FACE screened director Jawas Sharif's documentary feature film, Indus Blues, at the PNCA on Friday.

Directed by Jawad Sharif, the stage line of the documentary is "The forgotten music of Pakistan". The film is about music and musicians, craftsmen, locations, dancers, culture, locations, people, problems, prejudices musicians face and demise of several musical instruments and musicians. One of the touching aspects of film is musicians passing the life at a time when the going is rough. They are not living buy barely existing. Jawad Sharif moves the film smoothly at a brisk pace, not making his shots too long or too short, thereby giving even a documentary a lively tempo and velocity to keep our interest sustained for seventy-five minutes. What we see during this duration is sad. Jawad knows what he is doing as seen earlier in images from documentary film K2 and the Invisible Footmen. Use of shots ranging from close ups to aerial shots. We see women, cute children and even snakes neatly incorporated. The films are a mirror to our culture and civilisation. We even get to see musicians and singers hit by bricks on the streets. The prejudices, bias and hatred is evident.

The idea of making Indus Blues was born in Germany where Jawad heard about our musical instruments being burnt to ashes at home. Initially, Jawad’s idea was a short documentary which changed with the passage of time, and as he moved, so did the scale of the film. Much of musical heritage and instruments were gone but eleven instruments were selected to be explored and their craftsmen and musicians who created magic with pieces of wood and strings. It is ironic that offspring of musicians are not ready to touch on what their parents survived for lifetime. The new generation is now going to saxaphone.

The filming locations in search of musicians and instruments took the filmmaker and his crew to two thousand miles from Gilgit Baltistan to KP to interior Punjab to Lahore to interiors of Sind and the rest. Jawad makes a sad comment that our urban elite is entirely unaware of these musicians and instruments.

Indus Blues has won prestigious award at Guam Film Festival and expected to enter other film events but the harsh reality is, like many other countries, documentary film in Pakistan has no place in cinema or TV networks because it is not commercial and would not get the "Rating”, a pre-requisite for the deep-rooted commercial world of cinema and TV.

Mehnaz Paerveen, Director of FACE, took the production and distribution of Indus Blues in association with Bipolar Films, as a challenge and intends to go on with such offbeat themes and subjects, relevant to us , notwithstanding bleak theatrical/commercial prospects.