Shehla Chatoor has always been extravagant – with a penchant for details, flora, butterflies, glimmer, glamour. And one knew that her first solo outing would pack in the whole shebang, delivering not just a show but an experience.

The collection was titled ‘Nur-e-Alaleh’ which means ‘light from a heavenly flower’ and following the theme, the models walked through an enchanted forest to lilting music. There were pigeons suspended in the air, clusters of chrysanthemums dotted about the astro-turfed catwalk and winged, feathered installations everywhere. There were sparkling Swarovski crystals, heavy trails and swathes upon swathes of extremely delicate hand embroideries. Classic Shehla.

Shehla Chatoor with her showstopper Mehreen Syed and Amna Ilyas


But perhaps a solo show needs to be like this. Unlike fashion weeks, it is a show that needs to get people’s attention on its own merit rather than rely on a stellar multi-designer lineup. It needs to move beyond showcasing apparel towards reflecting a designer’s signature aesthetic. The entire audience, media and society’s crème de la crème, is there just for that one designer – the show needs to give them something to talk about.

This, Shehla managed to achieve. The turnout at her show was exemplary, a far cry from the lackluster red carpets one encounters at fashion weeks. It just goes to show that crowds are drawn in by designer clout rather than just any fashion event.

The Kazmis and Sadaf Fawad Khan at Shehla's show


This was Karachi’s fashion fraternity coming together to support each other, from Fashion Pakistan Council stalwarts Feri Rawanian, Maheen Khan, Aamna Aqeel, Obaid Sheikh and Nauman Arfeen to upper-tier designers like Umar Sayeed, Maheen Karim, Amir Adnan, Huma Adnan, Wardha Saleem, Nubain Ali, Zaheer Abbas, Adnan Pardesy, Safinaz Munir with her team and bridal couturier extraordinaire Bunto Kazmi.

Add in an elegant smattering of celebrities – Sana Bucha, Hareem Farooq, Asim Raza – and the event was a veritable Instagram fantasy. Shows as well-attended are few and far between.

The heaviest bridal wear was most exquisite: Fauzia Aman dazzling in maroon and gold, Sunita Marshall in a gorgeous violet lehnga paired with an ivory backless shirt
The heaviest bridal wear was most exquisite: Fauzia Aman dazzling in maroon and gold, Sunita Marshall in a gorgeous violet lehnga paired with an ivory backless shirt


But what of the clothes? Did they make impact? Mostly yes.

The heaviest bridal wear was most exquisite: Fauzia Aman dazzling in maroon and gold, Sunita Marshall in a gorgeous violet lehnga paired with an ivory backless shirt, Sabeeka Imam in a play of pastel florals and panels running down the length of the shirt, Fayezah Ansari swaggering in a midnight blue suit and Amna Ilyas in a cape and a fitted skirt with a standout feather trail.

There were layers of raffia, tulle, feathers and layers. Shehla’s forte has always been her dedication to the most minute hand embroideries and they took center stage on a predominantly nude palette set off by jewel tones.

Fayezah Ansari swaggered in a midnight blue suit and Amna Ilyas walked down the runway in a cape and feathered skirt
Fayezah Ansari swaggered in a midnight blue suit and Amna Ilyas walked down the runway in a cape and feathered skirt


There were elaborately worked clutches complementing the clothes and shoes by Sophia Webster, sent in especially by the brand for the show. It was a first for Sophia Webster to be part of a fashion show in South Asia and one had looked forward to seeing the shoes on our catwalks. They weren’t very visible, though, most of the time – perhaps that’s just not possible with our wedding lehngas.

Nonetheless, these were designs that any bride – or her wedding-bound family – would love to own. Perhaps the one outfit that was purely there for drama rather than wearability was the finale number worn by Mehreen Syed, a gown with an extremely heavy trail that made walking very difficult. Ever elegant, Mehreen carried it with a smile – and a few heavy breaths here and there!

Showstopper Mehreen Syed carried her ensemble's heavy trail with a smile
Showstopper Mehreen Syed carried her ensemble's heavy trail with a smile


And then there were the designs that weren’t as impactful. There were clothes that played it far too safe.

Sadaf Kanwal’s powder blue lehnga may look great at a wedding but it didn’t really make impact on the catwalk. Amna Babar’s boxy shirt could have fitted better. The fully embellished shirt worked with ruffles on Rubab Ali was ill-conceived.

The misses of Shehla's solo outing include Amna Babar’s ill-fitted boxy shirt and Rubab Ali's ruffled ensemble
The misses of Shehla's solo outing include Amna Babar’s ill-fitted boxy shirt and Rubab Ali's ruffled ensemble


Also, the use of velvet, at the very onset of a longwinded Pakistani summer, was odd. Some of the capes and blazers were also very wintry – the one worn by Alizeh Gabol, for instance. Was Shehla defining trends for her design house for the year to come rather than the current ongoing season? A few more slinky sleevlesses, lighter fabrics and a greater improvisation with cuts could have helped diminish some very wintry looks.

The wintry looks — such as Alizeh Gabol's cape and this plum jacket/cape — threw us off
The wintry looks — such as Alizeh Gabol's cape and this plum jacket/cape — threw us off


It was all beautiful but one missed the fierce statements that have always been quintessential Shehla.

It was a memorable show, nonetheless – for the glamour, painstaking attention to detail and designer clout it exuded. Flying solo is a hard thing to do – and Shehla Chatoor managed well.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia has kicked off its first-ever fashion week with designs by Middle Eastern, Brazilian, U.S. and Russian designers, as well as shows by internationally renowned labels Roberto Cavalli and Jean Paul Gaultier.

In line with Saudi cultural norms and rules on gender segregation, the catwalks are open to women-only and no outside cameras are allowed to film inside.

Still, the event marks the latest turnaround for a country that for decades has been ruled by ultraconservative dogma.

While the kingdom has held fashion shows in the past, they have mostly been tied to charitable causes and did not include big names in the industry.

The catwalks kicked off Thursday and will run till Saturday, when— in another first— the fashion week will conclude with a Russian ballet performance for a women’s-only audience.

ISLAMABAD: The Austrian jazz due of Elisabeth Lohninger and Walter Fischbacher captivated audience at an hour-long concert Sunday night.

Organised by the Austrian Embassy at Marriott Hotel, the performance began with A Little Bit Tricky, a light-hearted composition that invited the audience not to take things too seriously, while Moments urged listeners to enjoy the present.

Ms Lohninger’s heartfelt vocals combined with Mr Fischbacher’s warm notes shaped their performance into an elegant one, with a bit of freshness from their improvisation that was central to the power of their music.

Speaking at the concert, Austrian Ambassador Dr Brigitta Blaha said: “Austria is country known for its music. We are very excited about introducing two dynamic Austrian jazz musicians to Islamabad and look forward to sharing our passion for good music and delicious food.”

Ms Lohninger and Mr Fischbacher have been making music together for more than 20 years.

They live in New York and have toured Europe, Japan and the Middle East. The two of them have explored diverse musical avenues, written music for other projects, and developed their own artistic styles.

“Our music is for people who enjoy all different kinds of music. All the things we have encountered in our musical lives have shaped the music we produce,” Ms Lohninger told Dawn, describing the duo’s music as experimental jazz with a slight country-song exuberance.

She added that their song Because was an explanation for why the couple was still happily married, while Rooster was inspired by a rooster that did not stop crowing all day during a vacation they took to one of their favourite islands, suddenly stopped.

Sharpened with the austere but colourful lighting, the duo’s performance was taut and transfixing. Judging by the applause they received, it would be safe to say their audience was blown away.

بولی وڈ کی ’ہوا ہوائی گرل‘ سری دیوی کی 24 فروری کو ہونے والی اچانک موت سے نہ صرف بھارتی فلم انڈسٹری بلکہ دنیا بھر میں موجود ان کے کروڑوں مداح غمزدہ ہیں۔

سری دیوی 2 دن قبل دبئی کے معروف ایمیریٹس ٹاور ہوٹل میں میں مبینہ طور پر حرکت قلب بند ہونے کی وجہ سے چل بسی تھیں، وہ دبئی میں اپنے اہل خانہ کے ساتھ اپنے ہی خاندان کی ایک شادی میں شرکت کے لیے گئی تھیں۔

اگرچہ تاحال ان کی اچانک موت کی اصل وجہ کی تصدیق نہیں ہوسکی، تاہم ابتدائی طور پر یہ خبریں سامنے آئی تھیں کہ وہ حرکت قلب بند ہونے کے باعث چل بسیں۔

لیکن اب ان کے مرنے سے قبل آخری لمحات کی رپورٹس سامنے آنے کے بعد معاملہ مزید پیچیدہ ہوگیا ہے۔

سری دیوی کی زندگی کے آخری 15 منٹس کی تازہ رپورٹس سامنے آنے کے بعد یہ بھی کہا جا رہا ہے کہ ابھی یہ کہنا قبل از وقت ہے کہ ان کی موت حرکت قلب بند ہونے کی وجہ سے ہوئی۔

ٹائمز آف انڈیا کی رپورٹ کے مطابق سری دیوی کی زندگی کی آخری 15 منٹ کی رپورٹس سے پتہ چلتا ہے کہ اداکارہ کی موت باتھ روم میں نہانے کے دوران ’باتھ ٹب‘ میں ہی ہوئی۔

رپورٹس میں بتایا گیا ہے کہ سری دیوی دبئی میں بونی کپور کے بڑے بھتیجے موہت مرواہ کی شادی کی تقریب میں شوہر اور چھوٹی بیٹی خوشی کپور کے ساتھ گئی تھیں، تاہم شادی ختم ہونے کے بعد ان کے شوہر واپس ممبئی آگئے تھے، تاہم وہ 24 فروری کو دوبارہ دبئی واپس آئے۔

رپورٹس سے پتہ چلتا ہے کہ دبئی واپس آنے کے بعد بونی کپور اہلیہ سری دیوی سے ملنے کے لیے ایمیریٹس ٹاور ہوٹل گئے۔

رپورٹ میں بتایا گیا کہ بونی کپور اپنی اہلیہ کو سرپرائز دینا چاہتے تھے، اور ہندوستان سے واپس آتے ہی دونوں نے رات کا کھانا باہر جاکر کھانے کا پروگرام بنایا۔

رپورٹ بتاتی ہے کہ سری دیوی نے تیار ہونے کے لیے شوہر سے 15 منٹ مانگے، اور وہ نہانے کے لیے باتھ روم چلی گئیں۔

رپورٹ کے مطابق جب سری دیوی نے باتھ روم سے باہر آنے میں زیادہ وقت لیا تو بونی کپور نے دروازہ کھٹکھٹا کر انہیں باہر آنے کے لیے کہا، مگر اندر سے کوئی آواز نہ آئی، جس پر فلم پروڈیوسر نے کسی طرح باتھ روم کا دروازہ خود کھولا اور اہلیہ کو پانی سے بھرے باتھ ٹپ میں بے جان دیکھ کر حیران رہ گئے۔


رپورٹ سے پتہ چلتا ہے کہ ایسی صورتحال میں بونی کپور نے مدد کے لیے اپنے ایک دوست کو بلایا اور بعد میں پولیس کو بھی اطلاع دی گئی۔


ہندوستان ٹائمز نے اپنی خبر میں ٹائمز آف انڈیا کی رپورٹ کا حوالہ دیتے ہوئے بتایا کہ پولیس کو سری دیوی کے موت کی اطلاع رات 9 بجے دی گئی۔

خبر میں سری دیوی کے دیور و اداکار سنجے کپور کا حوالہ دیتے ہوئے بتایا گیا کہ انہوں نے عرب اخبار خلیج ٹائمز کو بتایا کہ وہ یہ سن کر حیران رہ گئے کہ اداکارہ کا انتقال حرکت قلب بند ہونے سے ہوا۔

انہوں نے دعویٰ کیا کہ سری دیوی کو کبھی بھی دل کے امراض کی شکایت نہیں رہی۔

دوسری جانب سری دیوی کی میت کو لانے کے لیے تیاریاں کی جا رہی ہیں، خیال کیا جا رہا ہے کہ 26 فروری کی شام تک ان کی لاش کو ممبئی لایا جائے گا۔

اگرچہ دبئی پولیس نے سری دیوی کی لاش کا طبی معائنہ 25 فروری کو ہو مکمل کرلیا تھا، تاہم لیبارٹری کی رپورٹس موصول نہ ہونے کی وجہ سے ان کی میت ورثاء کے حوالے نہیں کی گئی۔

امکان ہے کہ آج کسی وقت بھی لیبارٹری رپورٹس موصول ہونے کے بعد سری دیوی کی لاش کو ورثاء کے حوالے کیا جائے گا، جس کے فورا بعد ان کی میت ممبئی لائی جائے گی۔



VETERAN television, radio, film and theatre artist Qazi Wajid died on Sunday, bringing down the curtain on the career of one of the most versatile actors in Pakistan.

He leaves behind his wife, a daughter and grandchildren along with a large number of his admirers to mourn his death. Hospitalised for chest pain on Saturday night, the Raja of iconic TV serial Khuda ki Basti passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning.

His funeral was attended by people from different walks of life including actors Qavi Khan, Jawed Sheikh, Shakeel, Adnan Siddiqui, Behroz Sabzwari, Ayaz Khan and Shahzad Raza (the last three had accompanied him to Saudi Arabia last month) in the evening. He was buried at Eesa Nagri graveyard.

Born in Gwalior, India in 1944 (confirmed by himself in one of his final interviews though it’s widely believed that he was born in Lahore in 1930), Qazi Wajid was one of the longest-serving actors of Pakistan. He made his debut way back in the 1950s when he was a teenager and continued to act till his last breath.

He joined Radio Pakistan as a child artist in the 1950s and was part of numerous hit shows including Qazi Jee, Hamid Mian Kay Haan and the super popular Naunehal. It was in 1956 that his first film, Bedaari, was launched in which he stood out as an actor — for stammering. The film may have been lifted from the Indian hit, Jagriti, but it gave Pakistan’s entertainment industry a name to rule the screen (both films and TV) for many years to come.

In those pre-TV days, Qazi Wajid worked extensively with Ibrahim Nafees on theatre; Khwaja Moinuddin picked him from one of these performances and transformed him into an overnight star with Mirza Ghalib Bandar Road Per and Taleem-i-Baalighan, both of which were performed on PTV in the late 60s. He continued to be part of the play and performed it worldwide, most recently in Australia.

Wajid polished his skills in Radio Pakistan but it was TV where he became an indispensable actor due to his ability to play any kind of a role. In Taleem-i-Baalighan he entertained the audience as Shamsoo The Barber. The iconic TV serial Khuda Ki Basti began with his character, Raja, who was caught cheating at a card game. He played Shakeel’s father in Ankahi and was also part of the iconic Pak-Sino PTV classic Rishtay Aur Raaste while his take on journalism in Anwar Maqsood’s Aangan Terrha is still fresh.

Be it his performance on TV, film or radio, Qazi Wajid was always on top of his game. He claimed to have never played the hero in his life because the protagonist’s role didn’t provide him the margin to explore his abilities. He was the bad guy in Noor-ul-Huda Shah’s Hawwa Ki Beti who sells his daughter and played the cool dad to Marina Khan in Haseena Moin’s Dhoop Kinaray — both the roles were poles apart and proved his mantle.

The younger generation doesn’t know much about his exploits on films and theatre. He loved acting on both the platforms. Theatre was his love and his last bow came in a show he performed in Riyadh a few weeks before his death with long-time collaborators Anwar Maqsood and Behroz Sabzwari. As for films, he once told this scribe that he acted in that medium only because of his friend the late Syed Kamal; most of his films featured him alongside the Raj Kapoor lookalike.

For someone who spent most of his life entertaining people, Qazi Wajid was a modest man. Despite winning several awards — including the Pride of Performance Award — he remained active for his countless fans and didn’t hang his boots till his death, as his biggest award was finding a place in their hearts and staying there forever.

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2018


نامور بالی ووڈ اداکارہ زائرہ وسیم کے ساتھ جہازمیں دست درازی کرنے اور انہیں جنسی طور پر ہراساں کرنے والے شخص کو ممبئی سےگرفتار کرلیا گیا۔

فلم’دنگل‘میں مسٹر پرفیکشنسٹ عامرخان کی بیٹی کا کردار اداکرنے والی 17 سالہ نامور بالی ووڈ اداکارہ زائرہ وسیم کی گزشتہ روز منظرعام پر آنے والی ویڈیو سوشل میڈیا پر بہت زیادہ وائرل ہوئی تھی جس میں انہوں نے جہاز میں اپنے ساتھ ہونے والے ناقابل برداشت واقعے کی تفصیل رو رو کر سنائی تھی۔ ویڈیو کے ذریعے زائرہ نے اپنے پیچھے بیٹھے شخص کی حرکتوں کے بارے میں بتاتے ہوئے کہا تھا کہ جب وہ سورہی تھیں تو اس شخص نے انہیں جنسی طور پر ہراساں کیا اور ان کے ساتھ دست درازی کی جب انہوں نے اس کی شکایت جہاز کے عملے سے کی تو انہوں نے اس چیز کا کوئی نوٹس نہیں لیا بالآخر وہ اپنے ساتھ ہونےوالے نارواسلوک کی ویڈیو بنانے پر مجبور ہوگئیں۔

یہ ویڈیو منظرعام پرآنے کے بعد ائیر لائن انتظامیہ اور پولیس فوری حرکت میں آگئی اور زائرہ کو پریشان کرنے والے شخص کو گرفتار کرلیا۔ بھارتی میڈیا کے مطابق جہاز میں اداکارہ کو پریشان کرنے والے 39 سالہ شخص کا نام ویکاش سچ دیو ہےاوروہ بزنس مین ہے۔ پولیس نے اسے ممبئی سے گرفتار کیا ہے۔ سینئر پولیس آفیسر لتا شیرسات کا کہنا ہے کہ تاجر کو جنسی آفنسزاور بچوں کے تحفظ کے ایکٹ کے تحت گرفتار کیا گیا ہے۔ جب کہ ڈپٹی کمشنر آف پولیس انیل کمبھارے کا کہنا ہے کہ ویکاش  کو آج عدالت میں پیش کیا جائے گا۔

دوسری جانب ائیر لائن وستارا نے اس واقعے پر معافی مانگتے ہوئے کہا ہے کہ اس واقعے کی تحقیقات کی جارہی ہیں جب کہ واقعے کی رپورٹ ایوی ایشن ریگولیٹر میں جمع کرادی گئی ہے۔

In a pivotal moment of absolute thrill, Sara (Mahira Khan) runs frantically up the stairs of her posh home, straight into her bathroom and starts to senselessly pound someone to pulp in the bathtub. The water wildly splashes up in slow motion, with a few thick spurts of blood. The pounding continues.

The poor fellow in the tub is Aami (Haroon Shahid) — her husband. And frankly speaking, he had it coming.

Aami is a music producer whose songs — such as Power Di Game, which starts the movie — rap and scream against the establishment. But behind this ever-in-vogue mindset of thrashing the government lies a very weak-willed, polio-stricken man.

Aami is constantly angry, first at his mother for not giving him the polio vaccine as a child, and then at his wife, Sara, because she was raped for three days and then delivered home without a scratch.

Shoaib Mansoor’s Verna is a pro-women film all right but with a very short-sighted, inconsiderate and amateurish point of view

Verna’s is a tricky subject to ponder by Shoaib Mansoor, a director whose film career is exclusively made up of a lot of tricky, controversial thoughts. Mansoor’s thoughts are heavy, protracted, incessant and repetitive to the point of exhaustion. There comes a time in each of his films — Khuda Kay Liye (KKL) and Bol — when one goes, ‘Enough already, we get it!’ Despite this, both KKL and Bol were intelligent and relevant works of a man who media and PR companies dub a genius, master filmmaker. Before Verna, one would be hard pressed to argue against the notion.

Running at nearly three hours, the film spotlights a very delicate topic: abduction and rape of women by powerful people whose families run the government.

Mahira Khan as the lead. This is her second film with Shoaib Mansoor
Mahira Khan as the lead. This is her second film with Shoaib Mansoor


Mansoor is vocal about a ton of social dilemmas. Firstly, he shows us our own faults for electing corrupt politicians who come with a high-and-mighty feudal mindset. Secondly, he shows us the pressure on rape victims who are dissuaded against legally pursuing justice for fear of family embarrassment. Thirdly, he shows us the importance of fighting the good fight against polio.

According to Mansoor, feeding your child a drop of the polio vaccine means they won’t grow up physically handicapped with a lack of self-confidence and turn into Haroon Shahid’s character — a man who speaks in whispers and shakes at the knees. At one point, I was afraid for the poor guy. With mounting anxiety, insecurity and disgust (a lot of it targeted at his wife), I was expecting him to turn up dead the next day. He, however, is resolute in his shamelessness and overcomes his faults by saying, “Sorry.” I think his wife forgave him because he was good-looking (Good looking people are forgiven easily, Google that fact).

Spoiler alert henceforth: If you plan to see Verna, please stop reading now, because I have an argument to make about the film’s main selling point — the revenge of the defenceless — and it cannot be made without revealing a few aspects of Mansoor’s story.

Coming back to the main topic of Verna — the rape. Judging by genre, this is the meekest rape-revenge-controversy film in the history of cinema. It is also the most amateurishly made film of the year. Mansoor makes a ton of bad decisions, starting with the cinematography. The scenes are lit by a bare-minimum of light sources and are shot with a select few lenses. As a consequence, almost all of his shots have a predictable, annoying sense of depth.

Mansoor, then, amplifies this mistake by composing his shots as if he were framing for television, which mostly limits the editing to medium shots and close-ups of the actors’ faces. On the big-screen, one can see an actor’s puffing nostrils, and quickly forget the tone of the scene.

Haroon Shahid and Mahira Khan play a couple whose marriage is strongly tested during the film
Haroon Shahid and Mahira Khan play a couple whose marriage is strongly tested during the film


Speaking of tone, for a change, yes, there is one here. It is called a monotone. Like a long, unending beep that neither goes up or down in amplitude. As if that weren’t enough, dialogue dubbing and foley (the addition of ambient sound effects) is noticeably evident. As a general rule of thumb, they shouldn’t be conspicuous.

Production design is virtually nonexistent. From the look of it, most of the film is shot in two or three houses, with furniture that was already there. The songs are pedestrian which is something I’d never expect from a Shoaib Mansoor film.

Thwarting expectations, however, is Verna’s ace in the hole. By the intermission, Sara’s character makes the most illogical decision any sane person can make.

Spoiler alert henceforth: If you plan to see Verna, please stop reading now, because I have an argument to make about the film’s main selling point — the revenge of the defenceless — and it cannot be made without revealing a few aspects of Mansoor’s story.

Mansoor hypothesises that a victim of rape who has run out of options would resort to having consensual sex with her rapist in a bid to trap him. “You can think that she was abducted for four nights instead of three,” Sara’s activist lawyer tells Aami in an effort to soothe his apprehension. Sara, then, puts on make-up and a chic black dress, and goes on a date with the man who destroyed her life (Zarrar Khan). She eats at his lush residence, laughs, fires a few incisive lines and goes to bed with him (which isn’t shown) with a slightly grim expression. The whole notion of Sara overcoming her trauma within a span of fifteen days, and then hatching a plan like this is preposterous and insensitive.

Later at a big reveal, Sara is put on the spot by lawyers, who present evidence that her night with the sex offender was consensual. Sara’s sudden, very vocal “Oh shit!” expression implies that either there is truth in the opposing lawyer’s argument or Mansoor lost control of his scene and his actors.

Verna’s pre-intermission drabness (where you hate everything and everyone on-screen) is replaced by a thoughtless plot twist designed to incite people and gain sensationalism. The question then is: do you really need to stir a ruckus to tell a strong women’s rights story?

At the time of writing this review, two days after the film’s release, the war on social media is suddenly that of men-versus-women. The consensus is that men cannot sympathise with a woman’s point of view — or her predicament. No one is arguing against the need and relevancy of such topics — they should be made — but when making a motion picture, one has to make sure that it, at least, looks and feels like a film and doesn’t take its audience for a fool.

Published in Dawn, ICON, November 26th, 2017


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