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Khaula Jamil
It's not about the creative icons of Pakistan but rather 10 creative people that she regards as her own icons, remarked an attendee, explaining the choice of people chosen by (now) author, blogger-since-2005, Khaula Jamil for her book Raw Life, launched recently at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in Karachi. The book seeks to examine the creative processes of individuals working in different sections of the art, entertainment and literary field.


The icons the book examines are VJ Anoushey Ashraf, actor Arjumand Rahim, film-maker and festival director Hasan Zaidi, writer Kamila Shamsie, make-up artiste Mubashir Khan, artist Nazia Khan, musician and band-member of Josh — Qurram Hussain, comedian and founder of improve troupe Blackfish — Saad Haroon, creative entrepreneur and designer Yousuf Bashir Qureshi and graphic designer Sara Jamil.


During her speech (which Khaula mentions on her blog www.lifemeansdrama.blogspot.com) she forgot the original words and went extempore. She mentioned how difficult it was to be inspired in a city like Karachi and how the book focuses on individuals who have managed to carve their own spaces in the creative arena.


Those present at the launch included Muhammad Hanif, Marina Khan, Jalil Akhtar, Freiha Altaf, Ayesha Omar, Arjumand and Omar Rahim, Gumby, Shahzad 'Shahi' Hasan, Sohail Javed, Saad bin Mujeeb, Ghazi Salahuddin, Sameera Raja, Nazia Khan, Naad-i-Ali Zaidi and Yousuf Bashir Qureshi.


Khaula received her degree in Communication Design and graduated in 2006, while sister Sara Jamil is also an Indus graduate, has previously taught there and is a blogger as well.


A short documentary on the book itself was screened. Roughly around six minutes 17 seconds, it's a summarised version of what Khaula has attempted to do in the book. On a first look, the documentary doesn't seem to be “all that” it could have. The lighting is bad, the frames are very amateur and awkward at best, not what one would expect from someone who is capable of producing visually-enticing imagery. However, seeing it for the third or fourth time, it grows on you. Perhaps the documentary maker 'intended' it to be raw, although I still maintain that even that could have been achieved in slightly more refined manner. The creative icons are shown responding to questions related to the idea of creativity in general.


In the documentary, according to Hasan Zaidi, The act of being born leads to creativity. Mubashir Khan is of the opinion that There has to be a certain level of understanding, in order to listen to people because their idea may be better than yours. Saad Haroon, when asked to make a comparison between knowledge and imagination says that “Your imagination is a step above your knowledge, you can't say that one is more important than the other because one is dependent on the other. However what was more interesting to note was the icons' response to the notion of whether creativity can be learnt/acquired? At least five of the icons responded in the negative before moving on to give their viewpoint on whether or not creativity can be nurtured or harnessed instead.


The documentary commences with Josh's Mausam (the band's cover of the Zubeida Khanum song, and their first ever music video shot in Pakistan) and ends with it as well. Qurram from the band sings a verse from the chorus in the documentary and seems to somewhat struggle with it here and there — which was somewhat amusing to note.


The book itself, or rather the entire project is an extension or a realisation of Khaula's thesis work that she submitted when graduating in 2006. Back then, it was based on young creative professionals in Pakistan and included more individuals which one did not see in the book. Visually exquisite, the book has a series of photographs which are subtitled in the manner of which can be seen on www.asofterworld.com, a source that the author constantly, throughout her blog and book, mentions as an inspiration towards her work. The title of the book, Raw Life, also seems to be picked up from the series of imagery that Khaula has and continues to post on her blog.


However an interesting piece of work, which was not mentioned in the author's bio by the publishers or in the book is that of Khaula's direction of an inconspicuous music video titled Muneeza by a now-defunct boy/girl duo called Seyyem. The duo comprises of Lenny and Manna (Marym Kizilbash — an upcoming singer who's now gone solo and will launch her album sometime this year) and the video in itself features friends and family (and sister, Sara Jamil) of the author. More on that later.