KARACHI: Old Karachi and its benefactors have often been chronicled in the media, but those who are serving the city and its denizens in difficult contemporary times seldom get their due. It is in this context that Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy Films’ documentary series titled ‘I Heart Karachi’, screened at Neuplex Cinemas on Thursday night, assumes great significance.
The series comprises five short documentaries, each narrating, albeit just in three minutes, the Karachi-based individuals who put their lives in danger to serve others. As could be guessed, they belong to professions which require them to work in volatile situations and unsafe localities.
Before the relatively late screening of the documentaries Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy spoke to the packed cinema hall. She said it’s time to celebrate some real heroes who’re dear to us, who put their own lives on the line to make ours safer.
The first documentary was about Abid Farooq, in charge of the bomb disposal squad, west zone. In intercuts showing Mr Farooq’s interview and footage of how he does his job (defusing bombs), the film also nicely touches upon his family life.
The second piece focused on Dr Seemin Jamali, who heads the emergency department at the JPMC. The brave doctor divulges some important statistics (like 1,000 patients come to the JPMC on a daily basis) and talks about how her job affected her private life. In a touchy moment in the film, she says she always wanted to touch the stars, and now she feels that her duty enables her to do that.
The third short was about a firefighter, Zafar Ahmed. He reveals in the documentary that there are 1,700 firefighters in the city which has a population of 20 million. He then visits his own life saying he’s sustained injuries so many times that he’s been operated upon nine to 10 times, so much so that doctors didn’t think he’d be able to stand on his feet.
The penultimate documentary examined how TV journalists worked in perilous circumstances and looked specifically at an Abb Takk TV crime reporter, Shahid Anjum.
The last, and perhaps the most moving, film was about a polio worker, Naseem Muneer. It’s quite an unnerving sight watching the courageous Naseem leading a team of polio workers, protected by a bunch of policemen, moving into the narrow lanes of Karachi streets to administer polio drops to children in an unresponsive atmosphere. But what comes as a shock to the audience is the note at the end of the documentary which says she was killed by her husband in an act of domestic violence.
After the screening Abid Farooq, Dr Seemin Jamali and Shahid Anjum were invited to say a few words.
Dr Jamali said she felt overwhelmed by the documentary made on her life and added her profession was her passion.
Mr Farooq explained how arduous it was to defuse bombs in areas like Katti Pahadi and Manghopir (west zone). He mentioned that not too long ago he defused a 55kg bomb planted at the JPMC and only in the previous year he successfully managed to do his job 75 times.
Mr Anjum said while reporting on different events he received threats from some quarters but it didn’t deter him from doing his duty.
The late Naseem Muneer’s sons Shahzeb and Hassam were also present on the occasion.
Apart from the five shorts, a showreel featuring upcoming documentaries ‘Humaira’ and ‘Sounds of Sachal’ and an animated film ‘3 Bahadur’ were shown.
Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2014