Indian filmmaker Mira Nair is basking in the warmth of the welcome given to her in this eastern Pakistani city, saying the love of its people is “unforgettable”.
Nair, whose father was born and raised in Lahore, said, “It is always great to be here and welcomed with such warmth. The love I get from the people of Lahore is unforgettable.”
The accomplished director is here to attend the Lahore Literature Festival, which concluded at the Al-Hamra Arts Council today. Recalling her first visit to the city back in 2004, she said her father had graduated from Government College and “so Lahore is in my blood”.
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During a session at the literature festival, Nair spoke about her background in theatre and her stint as an amateur actress in New Delhi.
The maker of the critically acclaimed “Salaam Bombay” – a film about the street children of Mumbai – said this was her first feature film after she had made a few documentaries, including the then controversial “India Cabaret”.
She said, “Documentaries were hardly seen at that time. It was said that if you wanted to sleep, you should watch a documentary.”
Nair narrated how she was inspired to make “Salaam Bombay” while filming “India Cabaret” with real-life strippers of a nightclub. “I had started living with the strippers. I realised this was the kind of film I wanted to make: show real people in their vernacular, how they lived their lives,” she said.
“We used the profits of Salaam Bombay to create a trust for street children, called Salaam Balak Trust.”
Besides Nair, the festival was attended by Rajeev Sethi, a leading Indian designer, and Delhi-based Vishwajyoti Ghosh, who launched his book “This Side, That Side: Restorying
For Sethi, this was his first visit to Lahore, where his mother and sisters were born. He spoke at length about the positives of India.
“We are the most multi-lingual, multi-faceted and multi-everything country with an unaccountable variety of cultures, cuisines, aspirations and auras,” he said. “India can change, survive and democratically prosper if it remains varied and durable. And this is true for whole sub-continent.”
Ghosh said his book is a collection of 28 narratives and 46 contributions from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh on the Partition of the subcontinent.
Besides books and authors, burning issues like the threat from the Taliban featured in discussions at the festival. Participants in a discussion on “Afghanistan on the brink” called for “tougher measures” to deal with growing militancy.
Former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar, former ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, and journalists Rashid Rehman and Ahmed Rashid were unanimous on the need to launch a military operation in Pakistan to flush out the Taliban.
More than 60 sessions on themes as diverse as literature, culture, art, politics, music and journalism were held during the three-day festival.
Big names like Vikram Seth, Rachel Dwyer, Vali Nasr, Intizar Hussain, Zia Mohyeddin, Mohammad Hanif, Ayesha Jalal, and Mohsin Hamid attracted large audiences at the event.