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Panellists decry declining standards of various art forms in country

Karachi

December 5, 2020

Amidst book launches, sessions on various literary genres of Urdu, and talks on Saraiki and Balochi literature, the second day of the International Urdu Conference being held at the Arts Council featured talks on the current situation of various forms of arts in the country and the role of women in literature and society.

The discussion on art forms in Pakistan was moderated by journalist Uzma Alkarim. The panellists represented various arts forms such as theatre, dance, painting and television drama.

Sheema Kermani, a classical dancer and social activist, lamented that performing arts, particularly classical dance, had not been made part of the curriculum at schools.

She regretted that a constant decline was being observed in all the fields of the performing arts. One key reason for this, she noted, was that people were in haste to become famous instead of honing the skills.

In Kermani’s viewpoint, hyper-commercialisation was another reason why performing arts had been on the decline in Pakistan. Artist Shahid Rassam presented his view that art was supposed to bring about a change in society. He said the price tag attached to a painting could not tell of its original worth.

Discussing the cinema, Kashif Grami regretted that the film industry could not even meet the standards it had had in the early years of cinema in Pakistan. He said a revival of the cinema was predicted time and again but it could not actualise.

Amjad Shah said since the country had had a decline in most fields of life, the arts were no exception. Writer Bee Gul, however, hoped that the situation might improve in the days to come and that with a new generation, came a fresh chance to push things in the right direction.

Playwright Haseena Moin was not at ease as she pointed out that the session’s participants were from different fields of arts and therefore, a coherent discussion, could not be achieved. She advised the organisers to choose one field of arts for such sessions.

Women and literature

Earlier in the day, a session featured women writers, educators and activists who shed light on the role of women in literature.

The session was hosted by Nusrat Haris and those present on the stage were educator Dr Tahira Kazmi, writer Noorul Huda Shah, poet Dr Sughra Sadaf and women rights activist Mahnaz Rehman. Via video-link, poet Yasmeen Hameed and social activist Fozia Saeed also addressed the session.