THE GRAPEVINE

26 Jul 2020

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YouTube Hadiqa

We felt sad when YouTube took down Hadiqa Kiani’s ode to Kashmir, a song composed and presented in collaboration with the Turkish artist Ali Tolga. No one sets a good example by suppressing creative expression. Besides, music is something that, like all art, cannot be confined to boundaries, or seen through a certain political prism. We agree with Hadiqa K when, in reaction to the removal of her track, she emphasised, “We will not be silenced because our message is of love and peace.” Yes, peace is the operative word here.

Salman and Gender Issues

What Junoon’s guitarist and Imran Khan fanboy Salman Ahmed did last week on Twitter with a doctored picture of PPP co-chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, reveals a certain facet of our society that we seldom talk about — our deep-seated, stereotyped and often vile views on gender. In essence, Salman A attempted to make fun of Bilawal BZ’s alleged effeminateness. He was forced to delete the offensive post by Twitter after an outcry. No matter what side of the socio-cultural divide you stand, the fact is that there are archaic ideas our society needs to revisit. And if targeting someone’s appearance, ethnicity or gender is your fall-back argument on the political stage, you might as well admit defeat. Not to mention that the last thing Salman A should be targeting is appearances, given his own chequered history with his own. Actually, make that appearances and singing.

Toxic Show

No less than 11 employees, one of them current, of the Ellen DeGeneres Show have spoken out about the toxic environment that exists on set. Talking to a website on condition of anonymity, all except one said they’d been fired for taking medical leave and had faced microaggressions from at least three executive producers of the programme. They had often been made to feel that they were fortunate to work on the show, therefore they could leave if they had a problem with it because “everybody wants to work here.” While they didn’t name Ellen D as part of the problem, they said they were warned not to speak to her when she was in the office. Hmmm… if that’s true, that’s pretty degenerate of the show’s producers.

Tribute to Mehdi Hasan

Kudos to the Lahore Arts Council for paying tribute on July 18 to the legendary late vocalist Mehdi Hasan on his 93rd birthday! And how did it do that? Well, in keeping with the online trend that has become the most approachable source of communication in these tough pandemic days, the council put up a video stream of his performances on its website. It was a very good gesture, because Mehdi Hasan was a giant in the field of singing, especially ghazal gaaeki. At least in the performing arts realm, we don’t forget our heroes.

Nepotism Flip

Here’s the flip side to the nepotism debate that has gained momentum in Bollywood ever since Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide. R. Balki is a filmmaker who has made critically acclaimed and commercially successful films such as Paa, Pad Man and Cheeni Kam. He believes the ‘favouritism’ tag used to attack the Indian film industry is a ‘foolish argument’ because nepotism is present in every stratum of human society. He adds that, even if you’re a star kid, eventually it gets difficult for every actor to survive without having talent. He says, a little cheekily, he will be ready to talk more about it when he finds better actors than Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor. If he means, better and more marketable actors, he may have a point there.

Hailey Be Nice

Julia Carolan used to work as a hostess at a swanky restaurant in Manhattan. Recently, on TikTok she talked about celebrities that she had hosted and rated them on their behaviour. She gave 10/10 to Gigi and Bella Hadid; but when it came to Hailey Bieber she pointed out, “I’ve met her a handful of times and every time she was not nice. I really wanna like her but I have to give her 3.5 out 10. Sorry.” Supermodel and wife of Justin Bieber, Hailey B was quick to respond to the score on the same video platform and apologised to Julia C. “So sorry if I’ve ever given you bad vibes or a bad attitude.” Smart lass. We’ve heard the food in that restaurant is to die for.

Published in Dawn, ICON, July 26th, 2020