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KARACHI, Sept 29: A two-day Gandhara Film Festival ended with the best feature film (full-length) award going to ‘Heer Ranjha’ by Karimul Islam at the PACC auditorium on Saturday evening.

The day began with a short film ‘Divine Nostalgia’ by Sikander Malik. It was a nice effort in the sense that it was about spirituality with reference to two holy places in Islam – Ka’aba and Madina – and the Holy Prophet (PBUH). It dealt with the subject with the kind of love and affection that is required for such a topic.

The next film was ‘Golden Letters’ directed by Syed Mubashir and produced by Irfan Shehzad. It’s a documentary on the art of calligraphy, its evolution and present state. Dubbing calligraphy as ‘the ultimate expression of beautiful writing’, the film traces its roots from pre-Islamic days and how during the advent of Islam it reached its zenith. It also sheds light on the Arabic and Persian types of calligraphy and how subsequently it became part of the architectural designs for many a building as well.

Decent research work has gone into the making of the documentary that is ably supported by the interviews of some distinguished calligraphers such as Ustad Abdul Rauf and Ustad Rashid Butt.Isha Pata, directed by Afsheen Sajid Ali, was the third film of the morning session. The documentary looks into the life of the Kalash tribe in northern Pakistan.

The last film of the first part of the day was ‘Doodh Patti’ by Jibran Khan. It tells the story of four young people who have graduated from a university and wander into Karachi’s streets on their graduation night. Doing so, the characters reveal their real selves to each other.

The second part of the day was dedicated to a workshop for aspiring filmmakers.

Short stories were presented in the evening session. It kicked off with a film titled ‘A Box of Chocolates’ directed by Faraz Waqar.

The film, shot in the UAE, is a tribute (somewhat backhanded) to Bollywood’s famous director Karan Johar. It has western characters in a love-triangle that later becomes a quadruple situation, behaving and acting like a Bollywood romantic melodrama. The songs from Karan Johar’s ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ and ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ add an interesting flavour to the English dialogue. However, and despite the younger audience’s appreciation for the film, its locale makes it look like a spoof more than a tribute.

The next film was ‘9:11’ directed by Faraz Waqar. It was an intelligent take on the 9/11 incident with an educational institution becoming the setting of a Muslim student’s murder (at 9:11am) and an American, Trevor, getting wrongly blamed for it. A female (Muslim) student uses her camera to investigate the matter but she too gets trapped by a powerful security company run by another student’s father.

Perhaps the most interesting film, in the Pakistani context, was ‘The Kingdom of Women’ directed by Amna Ehtesham Khaiashgi.

It is a short documentary on Karachi’s famous Meena Bazaar in Karimabad whose shops are run by women and no man is allowed to enter it. The film highlights the hard work that the women working at Meena Bazaar have put in over the years and practically have looked after of their families. An interview with a young girl, Hafza Maria, who studies at a madressah and works at a parlour in the bazaar, was particularly informative.

The last short film was ‘Leap of Faith’, also directed by Ms Khaiashgi. It discusses the lives of a bunch of people who discard their previous faiths in search of truth and embrace Islam.

Rubina Ashraf’s film ‘Khamoshi’ was the final feature film on the festival’s list.