The Gurmani Centre for Languages and Literature, in its continued efforts to draw attention to the contemporary literary and artistic circles of Pakistan, spearheaded a series of events curated for this purpose.
Dr. Moeen Nizami, Professor of Persian at LUMS, and Bilal Tanweer, Professor of Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies at LUMS, presented the following in Spring Semester 2019: the Halqa-e Danish Ham-‘Asr Urdu Afsana series, the Ahmad Bilal Awan Bazm-e Adab series, and the Raag Shaam series. In addition, the semester also saw the continuation of the Khoka Natak series, a student-led initiative curated by Waqas Manzoor who is currently pursuing an MPhil at LUMS.
In a similar vein, the Halqa-e Danish series brought in renowned contemporary Urdu fiction writers, including Ali Akbar Natiq, Ikramullah, and Dr. Tahira Iqbal. The series also paid tribute to the late Fahmida Riaz. Over the course of the semester, audiences were familiarised with their works through excerpt readings as well as with their writing processes and struggles.
On a more concentrated level, the Ahmad Bilal Awan Bazm-e Adab series was oriented around the theme of Pakistani literature. Dr. Aziz Ibn ul Hassan, Dr. Maryam Wasif Khan, Dr. Najeeba Arif, and Dr. Nasir Abbas Nayyar were invited to lead discourses on the history of Pakistani literature as well as its role in the contemporary literary setup. The speakers covered a broad range of arguments and discussed the distinguishing features of the Urdu novel and short story fiction writing, the politics of regional languages, and the development of Pakistani literature in both literary and religious streams.
The Raag Shaam series, introduced in Spring Semester 2019, aimed to introduce audiences within LUMS to the various nuances of Indian classical music. Moderated by Ali Aftaab Saeed, Bilal Tanweer, and Dr. Moeen Nizami, the series invited Ustad Imran Jafri to guide the audience through various kinds of raag—and to discuss the more technical aspects. Over the course of the series, the audiences were introduced to raag Aiman, Raag Darbari, Raag Bhairavi, Raag Bilaval, and Raag Khamaj, and was privy to rich, evocative performances by Imran Jafri, Shayan Jafri, and Ali Aftaab Saeed of various popular—and beloved—musical scores.
Khoka Natak, a student-led initiative that aimed to introduce street theatre to the culture of LUMS, in its second installation of the series continued this Spring Semester 2019 with a variety of fresh performances. These included an action comedy on Patras Bokhari’s piece ‘Cinema ka Ishq’, a performance based on Krishan Chander’s play ‘Vo admi jo mar chuka hai’, as well as a comedic, improvised performance of Ibne Insha’s ‘Sadarat’. Additionally, the series also featured an originally-scripted mime performance on the colours of basant, as well as a dance performance to Hadeeqa Kiani’s ‘Aaj Rang Hai’, which celebrated the festive colours of Holi.
Of notable interest was a tribute titled ‘Rebel Angel’, held in honour of the late graffiti artist, painter, and LUMS alumni, Asim Butt. Asim Butt pioneered the Stuckist art movement within Pakistan and popularised the use of graffiti as a form of protest art. The event was curated by Younis B. Azeem and arranged as a panel discussion. The panel comprised of Nazish Afraz, Khurram Husain, Nafisa Rizvi, and Shehrbano Hussain, and they spoke of Asim’s life in various capacities—as friend, brother, artist, and visionary.
Another independently-arranged event was Nad-e-Ali’s photography exhibition The Other Horses, curated by Ali Sultan. The subject of the exhibition was Lahore’s Shabih-e Zuljinah’s processions. The photographs displayed the spectacle of these processions through instances of its flagellating crowds, caught in deep devotional reverie, as well as monochromatic images of the horses’ caretakers. Nad-e-Ali commented that Arif Mahmood and Robert Frank were two notable influences on his own work, and, for further understanding, supplied the exhibition with a catalogue of images and essays. It will be on display throughout the semester.