Director hits the right note with film on folk music

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‘Indus Blues’ weaves the story of the reality facing those holding strong to the folk music, the rapidly disappearing instruments and threatened craftsmanship that have been intertwined with the diverse cultures present in Pakistan along the Indus for ages. (Photo courtesy: Jawad Sharif)
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‘Indus Blues’ weaves the story of the reality facing those holding strong to the folk music, the rapidly disappearing instruments and threatened craftsmanship that have been intertwined with the diverse cultures present in Pakistan along the Indus for ages. (Photo courtesy: Jawad Sharif)
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‘Indus Blues’ weaves the story of the reality facing those holding strong to the folk music, the rapidly disappearing instruments and threatened craftsmanship that have been intertwined with the diverse cultures present in Pakistan along the Indus for ages. (Photo courtesy: Jawad Sharif)
Updated 31 October 2018
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Director hits the right note with film on folk music

  • Documentary aims to highlight difficulties faced by artistes in Pakistan, Sharif says
  • Indus Blues also throws light on endangered genre of music and instruments used

DUBAI: By panning the camera on the dying breed of folk artistes across the country, Pakistani filmmaker Jawad Sharif said that he hoped to unearth the genre’s “hidden gems” through his latest venture, Indus Blues.
Speaking exclusively to Arab News, Sharif said that virtuosos in the field continue to live a difficult life in Pakistan, as “being a music performer is a social taboo in society.”
During the research phase of his project, Sharif says he came across several instances of people who were of the opinion that the income earned by musicians was haram (against Islamic principles or forbidden), thereby making it an arduous task for the folk artistes to earn a decent livelihood.
“While we had a general impression about people looking down upon musicians as a lower segment of the society, we were shocked during our research about how difficult life was for them. This is why folk musicians are leaving their art form in droves,” he said, adding that this very experience forced him to create “Indus Blues.”
Having won notable awards for ‘K2 & the Invisible Footmen,’ a feature film which was screened at several international film festivals, Sharif said he was hoping to reach a wider audience in the Gulf region through his latest venture.
‘Indus Blues’ premiered at the Regina International Film Festival in Canada earlier this year and earned critical acclaim, taking home the Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature at the Guam International Film Festival 2018, in October this year.

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The film, which took more than three years to complete, weaves the story of nine instruments and a group of musicians who choose to face society's harsh realities every day in order to protect their endangered craft – the very art form that has been an integral aspect of the diverse cultures representing Pakistan, along the Indus, for ages.
Through his journey of a thousand miles, Sharif takes us through the northern Karakoram mountains to the southern coastline, all the while in search of Pakistan’s folk treasures.
When he finally chances upon them, he discovers that instead of a culture that should be thriving, artistes from this specific genre of music were struggling to make ends meet as they continued to fight the odds against those who did not see the value in keeping the art alive. “There are elements in the society who are against this valuable heritage,” he said, analyzing conversations with several community members who expressed resentment for the craft.
Narrating details of one such interaction, he talked about an incident whereby his production team was moments away from being attacked. “In the concluding sequence of the trailer, a student union at a prominent educational institution in Peshawar stopped us from covering a sarinda (a stringed folk musical instrument similar to lutes or fiddles popular across the Indian subcontinent) performance, even though we had the permissions to do so, because, according to them, it was not a part of their culture,” he said.
With a desire to compel people to think otherwise, Sharif lamented that our culture would be half empty “if [we] close our eyes to our rich musical heritage.”
“In a country riddled with political turmoil, economic challenges, and social identity crisis, musicians and instrument craftsmen find it hard to survive and sustain their art. We have to share these hidden gems. The world should know that Pakistan is a home of beautiful instruments and musicians,” he said.


China calls for de-escalation of tensions in South Asia

Updated 19 March 2019
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China calls for de-escalation of tensions in South Asia

  • FM Qureshi is visiting Beijing to attend the strategic dialogue between the two countries
  • China applauded Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts

ISLAMABAD: China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday called for de-escalation of tensions in South Asia and emphasized the need for dialogue to resolve all outstanding dispute in the region, said an official handout circulated by Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday.

China’s top diplomat made the statement during his conversation with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who is currently visiting Beijing to attend the China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue.

“The two sides reaffirmed support to each other on all core issues of their national interest,” the handout read. “They underlined that state sovereignty and territorial integrity are cardinal principles of UN Charter and international law.”

Discussing the situation in Afghanistan, both leaders expressed support for the ongoing efforts for peace and reconciliation in that country, reiterating “support for Afghan-owned Afghan-led inclusive peace process and called on all stakeholders in Afghanistan to become part of an intra-Afghan dialogue.”

China and Pakistan also agreed to continue their mutual collaboration and reaffirmed their commitment to the economic corridor between Gwadar and Xinjiang as they pledged to work for the smooth implementation of the project, especially its Special Economic Zones.

“While rejecting the negative propaganda against CPEC, they expressed a strong resolve to safeguard [it] from all kinds of threats,” Pakistan’s official statement said.

The two sides also agreed to increase cooperation against terrorism by strengthening communication and coordination in different areas of importance. “The Chinese side highly appreciated Pakistan’s commitment and efforts to counter terrorism,” the handout read, adding: “Foreign Minister of Pakistan expressed appreciation for Chinese support for Pakistan’s efforts.”