Distance from Delhi: 423 km
Time difference: 30 minutes behind India
Moving forth with our Padosi Post series, we finally arrive at the padosi we perhaps know the least and are expected to disapprove of the most (for reasons that for most millennials border more on archaic absurdities than any geographical boundaries!). As army troops on both sides of the border stand ever alert to slightest turbulences, there remains but only the hope of Art to cross over. And it does, despite bans on artist migrations and collaborations. It remains united through Manto even today, with filmmakers on both sides creating cinema and theatre to honour the writer who never honoured borders. We’re the same, born before or after 1947. Here’s what our dear friends are creating, in Pakistan’s cultural capital…
The Show Goes On
Theatre has been one of the strongest art forms in Lahore, and a recent revival has helped push this traditional legacy to the forefront again. The recently held annual NAPA International Theatre and Music Festival, organised by National Academy of Performing Arts, hosted a number of original plays by Pakistani scriptwriters and included collaborations with foreign directors. The World Performing Arts Festival also restarted at the prestigious Lahore Arts Council Alhamra in November last year, bringing new hope to the scene.
Arrival of Art Fairs
After Kochi, it seems only natural that Lahore should enter the contemporary art fair forums too, the city’s visual arts heritage is testimony to that need. Lahore Art Biennale’s first edition is lined up for spring 2018 and sitting here we can only laud it and wonder why arts practices that cross over like everything else between our cultures are no more allowed to do so. Lahore is also home to the reputed National College of Arts Lahore and a number of independent galleries that provide much needed platforms for experimental contemporary artists. Find out more here.
A Lahore of Letters
The Sixties and the Seventies were the era of Urdu literary magazines. There were a number of them, full of wicked fiction and always sold out, advertised prominently in bookstores across the country, and many of them launched right out of Lahore. Not that all the writers in the country have disappeared – the newest rage are Urdu poets who are social media stars – but since 2013 the Lahore Literary Festival has breathed new life into the scene. On a regular day, mushairas are still a prominent event, and there are in fact publications that save the day. Karachi-based Papercuts magazine is one of those wonders that manages to bypass chauvinistic tensions.
May The Music Go On
Music runs in the very arteries of this intriguing city. Lahore has a longstanding legacy of nurturing musicians, whether it is folk, qawwali, pop or grunge (this Guardian story gives a pretty cool view of how things were). The NAPA Festival mentioned above featured a healthy dose of music as well. But that aside, it hasn’t been easy for Pakistan’s contemporary musicians to gather the impetus required to move the industry along in a structured way. This is why the people of Lahore heaved a huge sigh of relief when Lahore Music Meet started in 2015. Held at Alhamra again and structured on the lines of a lit fest, it brought together millennials with a wide range of musical tastes and got them talking.
Image Credit: Lahore Music Meet