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LAHORE: The three-day cultural and literary extravaganza – 4th Faiz International Festival – concluded at the Alhamra Art Centre, The Mall, on Sunday.

The festival had a biggest turnout of the attendees on Sunday as compared to previous two days. All three halls of the centre and the lawns were full of people, not only from Lahore but from other cities as well.

In a session, titled ‘Meet the Author: Red Birds,’ the panelists were Mohammed Hanif and Navid Shehzad. The moderator was Dr Ali Madeeh Hashmi.

Speaking about his new novel, Red Birds, Mr Hanif said the basic reason of writing down the novel was the loss of his three friends who died one by one within a short span of time. He said he had a long association with those friends and one could imagine how he must have felt while seeing their last messages on Facebook, their phone numbers which would not answer a hello. “So all this made him write that novel and writing this novel was one way of dealing with loss and grief,” he added.

Navid Shehzad said the real craft and skill of a writer was how one groomed one’s characters and did justice to each one of them adding that she was struck by sorrow in the book. She added that Hanif had entered into surrealism from realism in this book.

A session, titled Recitation and Conversation with Dr Arifa Syeda, moderated by Noorul Hassan explored various aspects of veteran poet Zehra Nigah’s poetry.

“I like the extreme tolerance level of the poet (Nigah),” said Syeda.

Some clips of Zehra Nigah’s recitation of her poetry were also screened, including the one in which she had recited Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s famous satirical poem, Subh-e- Azadi (August 47).

In another session, titled ‘Tu Tay Akhaya Si’, was dedicated to Faiz’s Punjabi poetry and generally to the Punjabi language. The panelists were singer Shaukat Ali, actors Rashid Mehmood and Irfan Khoosat and writer Rakshanda Navid, the moderator of the session was Dr Sughra Sadaf.

Shaukat sang Faiz’s poem, Kidhray Na Paindian Dasaan. Rashid said Faiz’s name was the name of an ideology. He said both Irfan Khoosat and he had attended many sittings in the presence of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Sufi Tabassum and Nasir Kazmi.

Khoosat said he had learnt a lot from Faiz’s family as Shoaib Hashmi was his teacher and during many rehearsals held at Faiz’s home he also got an opportunity to learn from Faiz while listening to his conversation. He recited Faiz’s poem, Rabba Sachya Tu Tay Akhaya Si. Rakhshanda Navid also explored different aspects of Faiz’s poetry.

In the session, titled ‘Women of Media,’ the panelists were Samina Ahmed, Zeba Bukhtiar and Simi Raheel with the moderator Bushra Ansari. The participants in the session explored how showbiz women carried their image and whether their work was important or the image. All of them had complaints against irresponsible posts by the public on social media about women in the media. They shared with the audience how they had started their careers and how they maintained a balance between their work and personal lives.

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2018

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