Page 1

APRIL 21-27 2013

INSIDE: Is the Lahore Metrobus folly or far-sightedness? Bollywood’s Women: Caught between idol and item?

APRIL 21-27 2013

Cover Story


Is the Lahore Metrobus a folly or far-sightedness?

Arrive at a fair assessment after reading Gulraiz Khan’s dispassionate review

The Mistress of Spices


Shayma Saadat’s award-winning blog pays homage to the food she grew up eating




Bollywood’s women: Caught between idol and item?

Objectification of women continues as cinemas remain a big business in India


6 People & Parties: Out and about with the beautiful people

40 Book Review: Facebook COO

Sheryl Sandberg asks women to ‘lean in’ 42 Science: New findings from the world of research

Magazine Editor: Mahim Maher and Sub-Editors: Ameer Hamza and Dilaira Mondegarian. Creative Team: Amna Iqbal, Jamal Khurshid, Anam Haleem, Essa Malik, Maha Haider, Faizan Dawood, Samra Aamir, Sanober Ahmed. Publisher: Bilal A Lakhani. Executive Editor: Muhammad Ziauddin. Editor: Kamal Siddiqi. For feedback and submissions: Printed:


Amna Kardar and Xinhua Mall launch a multi-designer boutique “Shopaholic” in Lahore


Sarah Gandahpur

Noor and Saim

Neha and Afshan

Sarah, Salman and Amal

Asifa, Nabeel and Saima

Ayesha and Mohsin


Fariha Pervaiz APRIL 21-27 2013

Amna Kardar

APRIL 21-27 2013



Madiha, Ammara and Hadiya Mr and Mrs Malik Nadeem

Fizzi, Uzma, Gull, Saima, Zillay and Noor

Maha and Sana Bhatti Sahr

8 APRIL 21-27 2013

Saira and Hina

APRIL 21-27 2013


Kamal Lawn by Zara Shahjahan comes to Karachi

Cybil, Ayesha Omer and Nomi Ansari

Zara Shahjahan

Aamina Sheikh and Erum

Farah Leghari, Cheena Chapra and Safinaz Muneer Faryal Jumani

10 APRIL 21-27 2013


Ayesha Hashwani with her daughter

APRIL 21-27 2013



Amir Butt, Farukh Shahab, Neshmia and Ashraf

Kaukab and Saba

Monica, Iqra,Shazad and Mubashira

Amir Adnan Fauzia

12 APRIL 21-27 2013

Yousuf Bashir

APRIL 21-27 2013


Tashfa and Rehab

Sakib and Humaira

Sarah and Sam

Amina and Haider


Ahmer Farooq’s art exhibition titled ‘Secrets of Eve’, opens in Lahore Aasia and Mujtaba

Fahad and Sundus Ahmer

14 APRIL 21-27 2013


APRIL 21-27 2013

PEOPLE & PARTIES Élan lawn launches in Karachi

Ayesha Omer

Khadijah and Abdullah

16 APRIL 21-27 2013

Shehla Chatoor with her daughter

Syeda Saamia and Ayesha Saleem

Huma Adnan Sanam Chaudhri

Zainab and Nighat


Sherezad Rahimtoola and Alyzeh Rahim

Zurain and Sana


Dr Haya and Dr Komal

Ayesha and Rukhsar

Farhan Wahid

Umtus Sana


Nadir and Maha

Mahin Hussain


17 APRIL 21-27 2013

APRIL 21-27 2013

APRIL 21-27 2013


20 APRIL 21-27 2013

Is the Lahore Metrobus a folly or far-sighted? The Rs30 billion project has been polarising at best, eliciting more opposition than support; is that fair asks Gulraiz Khan The first thing you will notice is the eerie quiet after the doors shut. There are perhaps a few whispers, a cough, the humming of the air conditioning, and the pssst sound every time the driver applies the air brakes. It is actually a reverent silence, the silence of the people of Lahore traveling in the brand new Metrobus. I experienced it on a late winter afternoon as I headed to meet a friend for coffee. Since I didn’t have a travel card, I got a token from the self-service ticket vending machine at the station, and walked down to the platform. I looked up at the LED information board — the next bus was arriving in one minute. A red bus pulled up. People queued. The bus docked, its doors opened simultaneously. Two women walked out, the rest of us shuffled in. The doors shut behind us. And then there was silence. Shahbaz Sharif is a true Lahori, theatrical in his very essence. All his work is imbued by immense drama. He dreams up grand projects, and executes them at lightening speeds. By the time the opponents grasp the idea of his latest (Continued on page 26) APRIL 21-27 2013


COVER STORY fancy and start protesting, the project is up and running. The Lahore Metrobus has been no exception. Reactions to the Rs30 billion project, like any big-ticket number, have been polarised. Opponents have called it a wasteful political gimmick, a blot on Lahore’s beauty and insensitive to the city’s fabric and heritage. It has been oft-compared to the Berlin Wall for its ubiquitous iron bars. Opponents claim it has divided the city between the haves and have-nots and done little to relieve traffic congestion. The Metrobus has also been termed an unjust expenditure, with the 27-km line costing more than allocation to any other sector (including education, health, water) under the Punjab Annual Development Programme 2012-13. Barring self-praise from the provincial government, there are few vocal supporters. Most opinion leaders have avoided a dispassionate review that a project of this size and impact deserves. Which one is it? A case of political folly or far-sightedness?


26 APRIL 21-27 2013

Tyranny of geography In sprawling cities, the tyranny of geography is unleashed on the most disadvantaged residents. In developing world cities such as Karachi and Lahore, for millions of working class citizens jobs and homes are set miles apart. Access to personal mobility — a motorcycle or car — is a distant dream. For them, a disproportionate part of the day, and a large share of their wage, is spent commuting to and from work. Karachi, to state very generously, has a semblance of a ‘bus network.’ About 18,000 disheveled buses, coaches, wagons and mini-wagons ply hundreds of routes on an arbitrary number and naming scheme. For a city of 18m, that’s about one bus per 1,000 people. There is not a single

map, however basic, that charts any part of the network, and navigating it, therefore, is a job for the seasoned, or the needy. No one ‘chooses’ this mode of transportation. Of course, strikes, shutdowns, celebrations and official holidays bring the entire network to a shuddering halt, leaving those who depend on it stranded. Lahore, a city roughly half the population, never truly bothered with mass transit, until now. According to the Lahore Transport Company, there are 650 buses on 30 routes, with plans to add 2,000 new buses and realign the entire route network. That’s roughly one bus for over 3,700 people. Rickshaws and taxis are increasingly unaffordable, even for the middle class. With CNG shortages and escalating fuel prices, the regular fares for a 10- to 15-km journey easily hits three figures. Most labourers and low-paid workers, therefore, use bicycles, and the bulk of the labour force opts for motorcycles. The rest, who can afford them, have cars. The only answer, it seems, is to start thinking seriously

about an efficient, dependable, and respectable mass transit system.

Why mass transit? The conventional wisdom goes that as cities approach the one-million population mark, the administration needs to invest in a mass transit system — to move a large number of people back and forth. Unfortunately, that conventional wisdom eluded Pakistan’s city managers. They decided to restrict themselves to building roads, and let the private sector handle transport. The love affair with asphalt — roads, expressways and flyovers — was ground in the belief that they would magically resolve congestion. The experience of South East Asian capitals — Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila — was lost on them. These cities built expressways upon roads upon expressways throughout the 1990s, only to realise that their cities were choked by the turn of the century. More asphalt led to more demand and in the absence of mass transit networks, it only worsened congestion and air quality. They went back to the drawing board, and drafted mass transit schemes.

cost $163m per km. Assuming that it would cost $150m per km, how much would the 27-km Lahore Metrobus have cost if it were railbased? Rs405 billion. So if we want to drastically transform our cities, and do it cheap and fast, the option we do have is the Bus Rapid Transit, or the poor man’s subway.

‘Surface subway’ Jamie Lerner, three-time mayor of Cuiritiba, in southern Brazil, came up with the idea of the ‘surface subway’ in early 1970s. A subway should have speed, reliability, comfort and good frequency. Lerner strived to have all these conditions on surface — hence the term ‘surface subway’ for the world’s first bus systems with dedicated corridors, off-board fare collection and the look and feel of a modern subway. Today, 75% of Cuiritibans get to work by a bus in the morning, and 2.3m passengers use the BRT system every day. Other cities, including Bogota, Lima and Sao Paulo, replicated the BRT. The previously crime-riddled neighbourhoods, notorious for their drug cartels and high homicide rates, are now safer, more accessible. A large part of that success is attributed to BRTS. Since 2000, 14 Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shang-

Flashy trains? The phrase mass transit conjures images of modern trains seamlessly transporting hundreds of thousands deep underground, or on elevated tracks. The former Punjab government, under Musharraf’s rule, claims it had a similar vision for Lahore. They have, however, possibly spent more on recent advertising bemoaning the scrapping of their vision by Shahbaz Sharif’s administration in favour of the Lahore Metrobus, than the planned system itself. There is one small glitch: rail-based transit systems, elevated or underground, are stratospherically expensive. Subway lines, on average, cost between $100m to $250m per kilometre. The upcoming phase of Delhi Metro would

27 APRIL 21-27 2013

COVER STORY hai and Guangzhou, have built around 500km of BRTS. India is following suit, with five BRT systems, including Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Pune, six under construction and eight in the pipeline. Jakarta has been implementing a massive system since 2004 by the name of TransJakarta. As of February 2013, TransJakarta has 12 corridors, totaling 172km, served by 520 buses that carried 310,000 passengers per day in 2011.

Pakistan’s debutante Pakistan is a late entrant to the BRT club, with its first line opening in Lahore in February 2013. Within a few weeks though, it was carrying over 140,000 passengers a day. The corridor, when viewed independently, is well designed, and meets criteria laid out by the New York-based Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. It has barrier-controlled, automated off-board fare collection, a service interval of less than 2 minutes in peak hours, a segregated right-of-way, modern stations with well-designed signage, information systems and a precision bus docking system synchronised with sliding, automated glass doors that give it the look and feel of a subway station. The stations allow you to park your bicycle as well, a facility that may appear wasteful now, but will come in handy later. On the flip side, while the single corridor may not have rid Lahore of congestion and transformed lives instantaneously, it most certainly is the first solid brick in the foundation of a modern, efficient, dependable mass transit system. Karachi has in the meanwhile, hardly moved from the drawing board. The Metrobus has its flaws. BRT corridors need to be part of a larger transit system with feeder services. It has also been designed ad hoc, independent of land-use patterns. Environmental feasibilities, a pre-requisite, were completed halfway through the construction. And, the unending stretch of iron bars does look ugly. Unfortunately, they are imperative to enforce the segregated right-ofway, and avoid accidents involving adventurous citizens crossing the passage. Once we all learn to be law-abiding, the iron bars could be replaced with low-rise kerb stones. The Metrobus, therefore, has to be seen as such — a first experiment that would inform future urban mass transit in Pakistan. It has been expensive, but like all greenfield projects, it had to be built from scratch. A second line will 28 would cost far less. APRIL 21-27 2013

Opponents bemoan that the one-way fare, irrespective of distance, is Rs40. While that may be high for travelling between two or three stations, an auto-rickshaw, the only other alternative in Lahore in most cases, would cost far more.

Building on to the system Don’t forget a BRT system helps with public backlash when fuel prices go up. Private buses may squeeze the passenger but in a BRT system the government can subsidise fares directly. The BRT technology allows these policies to be swiftly implemented. Every trip on the Metrobus is recorded; therefore, for each trip made, the government could subsidise part of the fare. The Metrobus should, therefore, be re-judged in light of its potential. Its cost should be weighed against the existing congestion and opportunity cost incurred in winding traffic jams across the cities. It is the cheapest, and extremely effective form of mass transit that has been built fast and to good standard. In a country as hungry for development as Pakistan, there could always be alter-

native ways of spending every rupee. But some projects are more urgent, and can have a greater multiplier effect, than others. Better public transport is not wishful thinking, it is a right. Just like large parks and public spaces, mass tran-

sit systems democratise space and geography. And that is one of the more important prisms through which to judge the Metrobus on whether it is an expensive mistake or a judicious investment.

Karachi: the past, present and future of public transportation Karachi has been unfortunate. It is consistently relegated to the bottom of quality-of-living indices. The Economist Intelligence Unit called it the 6th worst city to live in. This notoriety has stuck largely because it is the only city its size (18m) without a mass transit system. This was not always the case, though as early investment proves. The first steam tramway was conceived as early as 1881, when the city’s population was around 75,000. It started working in 1885 in Old Town and Saddar. By its 70th anniversary in 1955, there were 64 trams for 1.5m people. In 1969, the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) opened from City Station to Drigh Road. It was an instant hit, carrying 6m passengers yearly. It grew throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and a loop line was added across north and west, making it circular. At its peak, 104 daily trains ran until decay set in and the grip of private transporters grew tighter. The tramway was shut in 1975, leaving the congested south at the mercy of private buses. When Karachi hit 9m people by 1999, KCR was shut too. Over the next 16 years, the population has doubled but there is no mass transit for it. Not that none have been on the drawing board. A revival of the KCR has been on the cards since 2001 but 12 years on, work has yet to start. It will rebuild 50km of the loop, cost Rs260 billion, and take nine years, according to the Japanese donor agency Jica whose study on Karachi’s transport needs has been key to the effort. There is a small caveat though. One circular railway will be a drop in the ocean of Karachi’s insatiable demand. The city has grown immensely and without feeder services, the KCR will only cater to a fraction of the city. These arguments do not, however, imply that it is not essential. They show what else will be needed in future. That is where Lahore has shown us the way forward with its Metrobus bus rapid transit system. BRT systems are long corridors that move people across the length and breadth of a sprawling city on passageways reserved for buses in the centre of a road. These

surface subways can work spectacularly for Karachi, especially because of its geography. Karachi is roughly 60km by 60km square, tilted precariously on its bottom-left corner. The city grew in triangles from the Karachi Port and Mereweather Tower area. Indeed, if you look at the layout of the old town you will see several corner buildings are actually triangular. Since commerce was concentrated in the south, at the city’s starting point, the harbour, people also flowed south for work every day. To this day, this pattern largely persists. The earliest major arteries of Bunder Road, Frere Road and McLeod Road aided this flow. Future arteries, such as Shahrah-eFaisal, New MA Jinnah Road, Shahrah-e-Pakistan and University Road, reinforced it. This gives the city nice, broad, straight routes that would be perfect for BRT corridors. They would not only intersect with KCR at its southern tip, City Station, but also halfway across the north as the train loops from east to west. The system would still need more radial BRT arteries that connect these northsouth corridors and feeder services in northern suburbs. Individual light rail transit loops, like high-capacity trams or trolleys, could supplement the system in the congested south, including Saddar, Burns Road, Old City areas, and possibly Clifton. Some plans being studied support this. Jica has prepared a master plan 2030 that incorporates the KCR and other forms of rail. Any future work has to factor in the private bus network which will resist change. But the former mayor of Bogota Enrique Penalosa has a solution that worked in his city when he brought in BRTS. Get the old bus owners to run the new ones. Rickshaws should not be forgotten either as they can service areas where buses cannot reach. If Karachi learns from the mistakes of other cities and builds a mass transit system, its economics would improve as people and goods would move freely but it could also reconfigure the tattered fabric of society for the better. GULRAIZ KHAN 29 APRIL 21-27 2013



Shayma Saadat’s award-winning blog on Pakistani, Afghan and Iranian food based on family heritage will make you want to revisit your own culinary past

30 APRIL 21-27 2013

Persian eggplant caviar served with traditional flatbread and fresh herbs or Kashk e bademjoon o sangak e sabzi khordan. This is followed by Zereshk Polow or ‘jeweled rice’ adorned with almonds and pistachios, served with saffron-laced chicken and barberries. And finally, Baghlava Cake, a family heirloom recipe made with almond flour and pistachios and served with fragrant cardamom tea.

We all have our stories to tell and through food writing, I tell mine

This was the $40 meal Shayma Saadat prepared for her pop-up Nowruz Supperclub at The Depanneur in Toronto to herald in Spring. It was sold out. For if food be the language of heritage, Shayma has mastered the art of speaking it. Her blog, The Spice Spoon, is

Food writer Shayma Saadat of the award-winning blog, The Spice Spoon

Morabayeh Holou (Peach Compote)

a culinary guide through her Pakistani, Afghan and Iranian ancestry. Each recipe pays homage to the food she grew up eating and much of it will be familiar to any reader in Lahore or Peshawar. She has a knack for reminding us what exactly we love about our food. Take the description of the “humble samosa” which is “that flaky, deep-fried triangular parcel stuffed with cumin-laced, spicy potatoes.” And almost everyone has a Nani Ami like hers who made some form of Aloo Keema Bun, a ‘meat and potatoes’ dish fragranced with notes of spicy ginger and black cardamom and cooked slowly over a low flame. The recipes, stories surrounding them and mouth-watering photographs have landed The Spice Spoon on The Independent’s list of the Top 50 Food Websites around the world. Her award-winning recipe for Borani Esfanaaj, a yoghurt and spinach dip, was published in the Food52 cookbook. The cooking has more appeal than merely producing an attractive-looking plate of food. However, just as the blog draws on a strong sense of place, it emerged from one of isolation 31 Chana Dal (Lentil Soup)

APRIL 21-27 2013

FEATURE that coloured her early days after moving to Toronto from Rome four years ago. “While my husband worked long hours, I found inspiration in the kitchen by recreating the tastes which reminded me of my childhood,” she told T magazine. An economist by training, Shayma had worked with the United Nations in Rome and when she moved to Canada, she took up the post of a senior policy adviser to the government. But her passion lay in the kitchen — a place where she not only explored her memories but also where she could capture her creations in stunning photographs. Shayma grew up in Lahore, which features heavily in the posts. “I loved those kaanch ki churiyaan; glass bangles you’d find right before Eid at the Anarkali Bazaar in Lahore’s Old City... after churiyaan shopping I would grasp my grandmother’s hand and walk towards the sandal shop, passing the fruit chaat kiosk on the way,” she writes as a preface for that recipe. The sepia-toned family photos pepper the posts and provide a window into a Pakistan that most people outside the country are unfamiliar with. “I feel that there are many narratives of Pakistan which need to be told... the ones you commonly hear are about a country riddled with violence and poverty,” she says. “We all have our stories to


Chicken kebab sliders tell and through food writing, I tell mine.” Initially, though, Shayma was not entirely sure if her readers would be necessarily interested in her personal stories. That did not turn out to be the case. “It was these highly personal posts, about my family, which resonated with my readers,” she says. “On some level, my non-Pakistani readers felt that they too could relate to my stories about spending summers with cousins climbing trees and being reprimanded by our parents for eating ice cream from the corner shop right before suppertime.” These stories go back in time and the tricky business of memory is accuracy. The same applies to the recipes. And so while Shayma is well travelled, having lived in Nigeria, Kenya, the USA and the UK, her food steers clear of fusion. “The interesting thing is that the more I moved around, the more I wanted to preserve the originality of our family’s dishes,” she explains. And so, her recipe titled Nani Ami’s Sawayyan is prepared in the authentic Punjabi manner and her mother’s Chutney Surkh-e-Murch (red pepper chutney) celebrates Afghan cuisine. But as is true for the region, which has a shared history, the recipes tell a story of cross influences. “Being the product of an Afghan and Pakistani household, our family dishes have evolved over time; incorporating ingredients and methodologies from both kitchens,” says Shayma. “For example aush, my aunt Shahla’s culinary opus magnus, is a soup of Afghan origin, which is prepared with various vegetables and mint leaves in a tomatobased broth. [It] has a heady kick of Pakistani spices which have been added to the recipe over time.” Ab Doogh Khiar (Cucumber Soup)

The beauty of the blog is it has also served the purpose of recording family recipes that were mostly passed down by word of mouth Sawayyan (Vermicelli Pudding) The blog is also a reminder of how unique and different the food from this region is. Pakistanis tend to use more red chilli pepper which is not a common practice while preparing Afghan or Persian dishes, she explains. In a Persian kitchen, a lot of fresh herbs like tarragon, mint, parsley and coriander are used. They also like to prepare fruit-based meat stews — an element you normally won’t find on a Pakistani table. In an Afghan kitchen, rice takes centre stage in a lot of dishes; spinach, potatoes, chickpeas or tomatoes form the base for elaborate rice pilafs. Also, frequently stocked in almost every Afghan and Persian kitchen is quroot (dried curd), which is used in several of their dishes. “Now there is no looking back,” she says. Equipped with a pantry full of food and a captivating persona which compliments her hereditary good looks, Shayma is a rising star in the fraternity of food bloggers. Recently, she spoke at TEDx as a Pakistani food writer and left an indelible mark on the hearts of food enthusiasts. She also has a contract with BBC’s Good Food magazine for a few on-going features and many speaking engagements, magazine commissions, pop-up events on Afghan cuisine at restaurants and workshops. Her interaction with people extends beyond the blog to ‘food swaps’ on a regular basis. She recently received a package of dried Sicilian chillies from a Twitter friend in Rome in exchange for a box of Quebec maple syrup cookies which she sent her. And thus the journey continues as do the discoveries with family and friends, readers and fans, and her husband and her eight-month-old son, who she calls ‘Tiny Spoon’ on the blog. “I have come to learn that pears poached with cardamom and cassia (Chinese cinnamon) are utterly delectable — I steal a bit from my son’s share to spoon over Greek yoghurt for my breakfast.”

33 APRIL 21-27 2013


The Delhi rape case may have put the spotlight on the Indian film industry’s objectification of women but as long as box office success is the yardstick, filmmakers are unlikely to change the way this topic is shot 36


The darkened cinema is the space where desire is explored without fear. Each member of the audience can privately lose themselves in the moving image projected onto the great glowing screen in front of them. And over the decades, Bollywood has given us symbols of desire that have ranged from the siren to the scrubbed village lass to the struggling young widow. Indeed, as Talaash (2012) proved, we can even be lured into the arms of a phantom even as we fear annihilation lurking beneath her papery skin. But desire has its daemons too. And the other end of frustrated desire is the social crime of rape. Bollywood has certainly not shied from this type of violence. The symbols are familiar, repeated in film after film — the broken anklets, the ripped sari blouse at the shoulder, the clap of thunder and shards of lightening. A shaking hand stretched across the mandir’s threshold. A rape scene was invariably part of any commercial Bollywood film from the 1970s onwards. It was plotted as the villain’s final, unforgiveable act that then neatly dovetailed into a justification for the hero’s subsequent obsession with vengeance. “The social fabric at the time was

such that people were identified [by] the part they played within a family — husband, father, son, and wife,” explains popular poet and scriptwriter Javed Akhtar, who along with Salim Khan, scripted some of the blockbusters of that time such as Zanjeer (1973) and Deewar (1975). “In that context, what [could] be the greatest source of humiliation other than hurting the hero’s sister in the most vulnerable circumstances?” The hero’s moral outrage allowed us to forgive the slaughter that would follow. The portrayal of rape mirrored the morality of the day. “Earlier, [at] a certain level, the morality was very black and white,” says Reema Kagti, who is among the new generation of filmmakers and has directed Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd (2007) and Talaash, both of which feature offbeat plots with strong female characters. “The rape scenes were there for titillation,” she adds. “That’s why every film had one. In today’s films, the item number is the equivalent of [the] rape [scene].” A strong indictment but simply an accurate analysis that while times may have changed and there may be fewer rape scenes in Hindi films today, the industry continues to objectify women. How else, argues film editor

There is more freedom now when it comes to portraying women in Hindi films. Earlier, there was duality: sati savitri vs. titillation Film editor Deepa Bhatia, who has worked on My Name is Khan and Rock On!!

Deepa Bhatia, who has worked on My Name is Khan (2010) and Rock On!! (2008), can we explain Katrina Kaif dancing to ‘Chikni Chameli’ like a Barbie doll? “She is saying look at me. It is commodification and that is the way it is,” says Bhatia. “You needed to show flesh under some pretext. Now heroines are item girls so everything is up for grabs.” The problem though, many believe, goes beyond that. It lies is in the subliminal message packaged in suggestive songs and saucy dialogue. It persists in the age-old picturisation

Insaaf ka Taraazu (1980) Zeenat Aman and Padmini Kolhapuri, who plays her sister, are raped by Raj Babbar. The entire scene reeks of lasciviousness. In one regrettably unforgettable shot, Zeenat’s character is shown lying on the ground as seen from between his knees

Zakhmee Aurat (1988) Dimple Kapadia plays a cop who is gang raped but then exacts revenge by castrating rapists. Considered a B-grade film and a real low when it came to portraying women

Bandit Queen (1994) Arundhati Roy eviscerated Shekhar Kapur for his cinemat-

ic portrayal of Phoolan Devi. He never met in the flesh but based his film loosely on Mala Sen’s book on her with many deletions. Among a slew of criticisms, Roy asks why the rape of a “nice woman (saucy, headstrong, foul-mouthed perhaps, but basically moral, sexually moral) — is one thing. The rape of a nasty/perceived-to-be-immoral woman, is quite another”. APRIL 21-27 2013


FEATURE Ghar (1978)

Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2004)

About a young couple (Vinod Mehra and Rekha) whose domestic bliss is shattered when she is raped by four goons while they are returning from a late night film show. The entire scene is shot, however, through the rapists’ faces. One of the most sensitive picturisations of the crime in Hindi cinema

The female lead (Chitrangada Singh) is raped by local cops when she is working in the remote areas of Bihar. The director spares us the gory details and conveys the trauma subtly. In fact, she is even shown going back to work in those areas. Unconventional, rare portrayal

of romance: the man relentlessly pursuing the woman, who after rejecting his advances, finally gives in. “Films unintentionally give respectability to the term eveteasing,” admits Javed Akhtar. “It makes the act seem innocent when it is not. They show the hero singing and following the woman to woo her even when she says no and that gives credibility and sanction to the act of eve-teasing; [showing] that this is a part of love.” The mixed message is part of the problem — not just because the woman dressed in western clothes is ‘asking’ for trouble but also because the ‘sati savitri’ innocent woman is also a target. This conveys that no matter what your persona, as a woman you are vulnerable to assault. As sociologist and film buff Shiv Viswanathan puts it: “The equation of western to immoral bothers me. The rape of the innocent, or not so innocent, this double gradient is what worries me.” The objectification of women came under the scanner after the horrific Delhi bus rape in December. Some actresses, among them Kareena Kapoor, Neha Dhupia and Ayesha Takia, have decided, according to 38 industry sources, against doing item APRIL 21-27 2013

numbers in future projects. In the very least, the tragedy has precipitated debate. On one end of the spectrum are the directors who have reacted sharply to discussion linking films to the incidents of rape and sexual violence across India. “Cinema has only been around for a 100 years; men have been treating women badly for much longer than that,” argues filmmaker and choreographer Farah Khan. “So how can one blame cinema for what is going wrong in our country today?” Kagti is equally dismissive and uses an example to question people who say viewing informs behaviour: “How come people don’t [emerge from the cinema] a little [more] honest [after] watching Munnabhai M.B.B.S. (2003)?” Other voices in the industry, albeit

A rape is commited every

minutes in India reports the BBC. Many of the crimes don’t make it to the media

smaller in number, call for greater introspection. “Cinema is such a huge influence, so how can you say attitudes are not shaped?” counters

Damini (1993) About a woman (Meenakshi Seshadri) who fights to get justice for her domestic helper who is raped by her brotherin-law and his friend on Holi. The horror of the incident is again conveyed through the perpetrators, their coloured faces, without dwelling on the woman

Deepa Bhatia. “It has such an impact when it comes to clothes or syntax. So it does affect the way you view women. In the 1980s, when Karisma sang ‘Sexy, sexy sexy, mujhe log bole’, it changed the way women were viewed in this country.” It appears that filmmakers who wish to challenge the dominant themes can do so elegantly (see Not Herd Mentality). Javed Akhtar for one believes that Indian audiences are ready for films which show a more nuanced portrayal of women and relationships. He cites the success of films like Kahaani (2011), Zindagi na Milegi Dobara (2011) and Band Baaja Baarat (2010) It appears, however, that a few films do not a successful trend make. “It is difficult to find financial backing for films that tell women’s stories,” says Kagti. “There may be one Kahaani, but there are thousands of male-oriented films. Audiences, and not just in India, are not interested in watching women-oriented films.” Cinema is, after all, a business, a big business in India. And as Bhatia argues, as long as box office success remains the goal change is unlikely. “You can’t hold a gun to filmmakers and force them to change their perspective.”


Delicate truths, plainly put

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, according to its author Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, is a “sort of a feminist manifesto” which she hopes “inspires men as much as it inspires women”. Whether it becomes an inspiration has yet to be decided, but if it is a feminist manifesto, it is a rather strange one. Sandberg’s is, if you will, a mellow feminism heavily laced with practicality. It is a feminism which is does not believe that referring to women as ‘womyn’ will make gender equality a reality. It demands — and this is one of the chief reasons Sandberg is catching a lot of flak — that women ‘lean in’. Enough with whining about things they have no control over, women need to believe in themselves, be ambitious, speak up more often and be prepared to take BY ORR ALI on more challenges. One of Forbes World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, Sandberg understands too well how difficult it can be to overcome gender stereotypes, so she peppers each chapter with advice. For instance, in ‘Success and Likability’ (chapter 3), she explains, quoting the results of the famous Howard/Heidi experiment, how success and likability are inversely proportional for women. “If a woman is competent, she does not seem nice enough. If a woman seems really nice, she is considered more nice than competent”. Her advice here is, ‘Think personally, act communally’. She asks women to be “delicately honest” rather than being “brutally honest”. Sandberg admits in the introduction that the book is most relevant to women who “have choices about how much and when and where to work”. But Pakistani female medical students should definitely buy a copy. After these future doctors have read how it is possible to achieve a work-home balance, they should go back to page 13, and reread Judith Rodin’s words (“My generation fought so hard to give all of you choices. We believe in choices. But choosing to leave the workforce was not the choice we thought so many of you would make.”). It is also a helpful read for anyone struggling in the corporate world Sheryl Sandberg was big as the COO of Facebook but the Ted Talk in as Sandberg talks as a successful business leader. People December 2010 catapulted her to a new level of fame. In its 15 minutes need to be less risk-averse, more involved, less afraid of and 30 seconds, Sandberg drew on her experience at Google, the World learning something new. Sandberg’s revolution is not a Bank and US Treasury Department to speak on why we have too few women leaders in this day and age. The harsh truth is that, “Women are soldier marching to destroy mankind; not making it to the top of any profession anywhere in the world,” she it is more like a bride walking down the said. They systematically underestimate their own abilities. They do not aisle, one step at a time. And then one negotiate for themselves in the workforce. Men attribute their success to day this kind of sexist comparison will themselves, and women attribute it to other external factors. seem outdated.

The Facebook COO uses her story (and hard data) to look at how women unintentionally hold back in their careers but don’t have to

Women on top? Not really


Our three

refreshing picks of

women who 40

say it like it is APRIL 21-27 2013

Move over David Sedaris, this is the book by the funniest woman on the planet who is as famous for her Sarah Palin impersonation as her series 30Rock. This is the read about how Fey became such a success while being so irreverent. No lectures on feminism here, just advice not to eat diet food during a meeting. And you have to see the joke on salted peanuts on page 4.

Down came the rain Published a year after Tom Cruise criticised her for using anti-depressants after having a baby, this book by Brooke Shields is a must-read for any woman who needs support which tends to be scant at this crucial juncture in their lives. Shields is honest about the crippling depression and details her recovery through medication, talk therapy and time.

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman One of the original feminists, Wollstonecraft wrote this dense treatise in 1792. While it is not light reading, it is worth the hard work as Wollstonecraft put forward some notions that are perhaps relevant in Pakistan today. For example, she argued that a confined existence makes women frustrated and transforms them into tyrants over their children and servants.


Measure to manage F

romÊ brainÊ drainÊ toÊ bloodÊ toxicityÊ levels,Ê hereÊ areÊ aÊ fewÊ newÊ findings from the world of research with a focus on Pakistan

How much you think you weigh could be important in managing how much you weigh. But it turns out that female university students in Karachi seem to be getting it quite wrong. Nine researchers published a study in BMC Public Health in March on a survey of 338 students they did in four universities in Karachi from September to November 2009. One-third of the women misclassified themselves. Underweight women were likely to consider themselves normal and be most satisfied with their weight. They found that 27% of them were underweight, 51% normal weight and 21% were overweight, given BMI data. Alarmingly, a little less than half of the 92 underweight girls thought they were normal. Only one female student thought she was underweight despite being truly overweight.


The mass exodus of doctors from Pakistan is going to pose a challenge in the future. This much we know. But where have they been going? Ireland as it turns out. A study by six experts from Trinity College Dublin gives the breakdown in the journal Health Policy this April. Between 2000 and 2010, Ireland became increasingly dependent on foreign-trained doctors to staff its health system. Registration data for that 10-year period was obtained from the Medical Council of Ireland. The proportion of foreign-trained doctors rose from 13.4% of all registered doctors in 2000 to 33.4% by 2010. The largest increase was in foreigntrained doctors from outside the EU, rising from 972 (7.4%) in 2000 to 4,740 (25.3%) of registered doctors in 2010. The biggest source country in 2000 was Pakistan. By 2010, South Africa had overtaken. The number of foreign-trained doctors from other EU countries doubled from 780 in 2000 to 1,521 in 2010. APRIL 21-27 2013

Hepatitis C, caused by hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a contagious disease of the liver which infects more than 170m people worldwide and around 16m in Pakistan. HCV-associated infection spreads mainly by blood-to-blood contact. In recent years, many studies have been conducted to determine the prevalence of HCV infection in Pakistan. However, no data has been available from Balochistan, the largest province. But in a study published in Virology Journal in March, seven researchers from Kohat University of Science and Technology examined 356 samples from young men who were blood donors in Quetta (17 to 25 years) at the Combined Military Hospital. They found that 20% of them were infected.

We are happy to report that the Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research has found that Pakistani immigrants to Norway are not contributing to the cigarette-smoking epidemic there. The journal Ethnicity and Health published the paper in April based on a study of 14,768 people who answered questions on smoking, education and backgrounds. It turns out that Turkish men smoked the most (56%), followed by Iranians (42%) compared to 27% of Norwegian men. Pakistani men mostly reported never having smoked. It was virtually the same for Pakistani, Vietnamese and Sri Lankan women.

Three University of Karachi and Manchester Metropolitan University experts have reported for the first time high blood manganese levels in poor children who are already iron deficient. Pakistani children are already iron deficient but this opens them to the risk of higher absorption in the gut of trace metals such as manganese. Therefore, children living in heavily polluted cities like Karachi may be prone to manganese toxicity. A total of 269 poor children (aged 6-60 months) from low-income families were included in the study at three hospital out-patients departments. They wrote that blood manganese concentrations were much higher in children with anaemia. The findings were published in the journal, Public Health Nutrition in March. The trace metal can be found in drinking water, street dust and vegetables.

The Express Tribune Magazine - April 21  

The Express Tribune Magazine for April 21st 2013

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you