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Season of Pakistan in Paris

Season of Pakistan in Paris

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This is clearly the season of Pakistan in Paris as various cultural manifestations tracing back to Pakistan become evident in the city.


Exhibition Across at Fondatin Alliance Française
Exhibition Across at Fondatin Alliance Française © Doumé. courtesy: FAF


Some curious readers may ask as to why am I writing about Pakistan when we have such a geo-centric name. We wish to reiterate that, for us, Indians are people with Indian roots in their hearts, body, mind or soul no matter what their geographic, national or political affiliation is.


Pakistan is and has been an integral part of the Indian sub-continent for thousands of years. Countries from the sub-continent share a common and rich cultural heritage. Indus valley civilisation's ancient cities of Mohanjodaro and Harappa, universities of Taxila are as much a part of the Indian lineage as they are of the modern-day Pakistan. The shared culture is prevalent in performing arts, dances and music such as sufi music, qawwali, kathak, ghazal etc. to such an extent that it would be impossible to create another partition and debate on who do they belong. Gastronomy is another non-negligible aspect of a sense of sharing. So, let us leave aside the geo-political differences to whom it may concern and celebrate a common thread that binds us all and gives us an identity as people from the Indian sub-continent.


Guimet musuem is currently running the Gandhara Cycle that brings to focus the prehistoric, antique and contemporary Pakistan- looking closely at periods from thousands of years ago at the largest terrestrial mammal- baluchiterium- to the art of Gandhara- the Buddhist art around 1st-3rd century AC, that was influenced by the Greco-Roman art during the empire of successors of Alexander the Great and Kushan Empire. Indian in origin, it was first discovered in Peshawar and was to influence, in its turn, the Buddhist art of China, Japan and Korea.


Foundation Alliance Française is currently celebrating the 'Pakistan in Paris' under its theme 'Alliances in resonance'. The subject of Pakistan from a French viewpoint is poorly understood with the media onslaughts of violence, grief and poverty stricken images. However, the program will bring to forefront artists from various fields who will share their art and vision with the audience with an aim to bring about a better comprehension of their culture.


For those who are interested in the current affairs and wish to look at Pakistan from an insider's view can head for the cinema dealing with the subject of Pakistan. The medium has been used by Pakistani and international film makers to express their viewpoints as can be seen in films such as 'Khamosh Pani' of Sabiha Sumar that deals with the chagrins of a mother whose son is attracted to fundamentalists or with Michael Winterbottom's Angelina Jolie starrer mainstream film 'A Might Heart' that chronicles the assassination of American Journalist Daniel Pearl. A.J.Kardar's 'A Day shall Dawn' will give an insight in to the lives of Eastern Pakistani fishermen whereas 'Life in the Gutter Gate' by Firozeh Yusufzai will take the viewers into the lives of two rag picking children in the streets of Lahore. We will see the period of India-Pakistan partition in Shireen Pasha's 'Hima Remembers'. Nasir Khan's 'Made in Pakistan' aims to break the Western stereotypes of Pakistan in the cycle 'the Tuesdays of Courrier International' followed by a debate.


On the cultural front, there are performing artists, such as Rafi Peer's theater whose heritage dates back to the time before partition and other contemporary artists, all of whom, in some way, are trying to bridge the gaps by bringing their vision of a world with fusion- in music as well as in arts. Kathak dancer Nighat Chaudhry's parents migrated to London when she was young but she chose to retrace her steps back to Lahore to integrate the nuances of the dance. The collaboration of Pastoral Baluchi Group of Baluchistan with the Trio Guerbigny to mix the sounds of shepherd songs with saxophones, guitar, violin and accordeon has resulted in a new musical expression. There is the Berkeley educated Mekaal Hasan who made his band to create fusion music combining Eastern sensibilities and Western sophistication.


Like Mekaal Hasan, the younger generation of Pakistanis are no less accomplished- Cousin sisters Zeb and Haniya have a successful first song-composition " Chup " in their repertory at Lahore- the 'cultural hub of Pakistan'- whereas starting from Islamabad, four adventurous friends have undertaken an unimaginable journey of 8000 km to Paris in a highly decorated Volkswagen Coccinelle car arriving in 2 months ! Their car 'foxy shahzadi' is on display at the exhibition 'Truck Art'.


Here's to their spirit of adventure and of a shared heritage !


Related Events:

 Nighat Chaudhry
Nighat Chaudhry photo courtesy FAF


Exhibition: Pakistan: end of the ancient world (1st-3rd century)

Photographic Exhibition 'Across' of Pakistani and Indian Punjab

Exhibition Truck Art- the Art on Wheels Tour


Films and documentaries

Screening of the documentary film 'Made in Pakistan'

Pakistan at Cinéma Pagode

Cinema Cycle- Pakistan at Mac Mahon Cinema

Documentary- 'Indus: the master of rivers'

'Pardesi' of Michel Follin

Documentary 'Pakistan Zindabad'

'Khamosh Pani' at Guimet Museum


Cultural events

Kathak Performance by Nighat Chaudhry

Fusion Concert- Koyi Baat Nahi

Puppet show 'A Simple Story' by Rafi Peer Theater Workshop

Concert- Mekaal Hasan Band

Concert- Zeb and Haniya

Qawwali- Najmuddin Saifuddin and Brothers



Conference: Pakistan before the history: French excavations of Baluchistan

Conference: Jinnah and Pakistan: Dream or reality



Hockey on the Grass- India/ Pakistan