Saturday, December 08, 2012

Nadeem Paracha's series 'Crazy Diamonds'

From his write up on Waheed Murad about the decline of Pakistani film industry in the 1980s:
"The VCR had arrived and with it Indian films (on video tapes). This machine boded well with what was happening to the film industry’s main audiences: i.e. the urban lower and middle classes.
Ziaul Haq’s reactionary military coup against the Z A. Bhutto regime in 1977 and then the military dictatorship’s strict censor policies, along with its concentrated crackdown on social activities that it deemed ‘un-Islamic’ and ‘immoral,’ began to push the urban middle-classes indoors.
The VCR fitted perfectly in this new, introverted setting. By 1984, Urdu films in Pakistan had already lost almost 50 per cent of its audiences. This was also the period when many cinemas began to close down or be converted into gaudy shopping plazas and wedding halls.
A number of once famous and rich film stars found themselves out of work. Some took to drinking and slipped into obscurity; some compromised their egos (and fee) and began doing teleplays; while others ventured into taking roles in loud, violent Punjabi films whose stock and popularity rose rather bizarrely with the strengthening of the Zia dictatorship."
From the portrait of General Rani:
"For years she played well the role of a good wife, bearing six children and never venturing out of the house without a burqa (veil/abaya).
Then one day in 1963, while holidaying with her husband on the cool hills of Murree, something snapped in her.
Walking with her husband among the tall pine trees of the hills, a gust of wind blew away the burqa from her face.
Enjoying the wind softly breezing across her face, she let the wind to continue making the burqa flap away and expose her face.
Agitated by her callousness, her husband admonished her. She stopped walking. She stared back at him and then casually proceeded to take off the burqa from the rest of her body.
Then after tossing it athim, she walked away, asking him to wear it himself!
It was at a club that was frequented by the country’s top military men in Rawalpindi where Pakistan’s future dictator, General Yahya Khan, fell for her.
A compulsive drinker and womaniser, Yahya began an affair with Aqeel sometime in 1967. But throughout her relationship with Yahya, she kept insisting that they were ‘just friends.’
Nevertheless, when a leftist movement between 1968 and 1969 forced General Ayub Khan to resign as head of state, he installed Yahya Khan as the country’s new Martial Law Administrator.
It was at this point that Aqeel began being called (in the press), ‘General Rani.’ It is believed that apart from looking after Yahya’s ferocious appetite for booze and women, she also began ‘advising’ him on policy and political matters.
Those who met her in those days described her to be far more informed and astute in the field of politics than Yahya." Read also how she helped Noor Jehan/

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