Posted by sepoy on January 11, 2005 · 2 mins read

The tagline says "Where Pakistan Meets America" and judging from the magazine's title*, Chowrangi, the place where this meeting happens would be a central traffic intersection where various (at least 4) major roads intersect.

The first issue of this glossy, out of NJ, is well thought-out and well executed. The editorial statement describes the goal of the magazine:

We wish to showcase the talents of the diaspora, particularly in the fields of arts and culture, and highlight its many positive manifestations. More importantly, we hope Chowrangi will become a rallying cry for progressive Pakistanis in America to come together and engage in debate and dialogue. While one of our aims is to challenge the global image of Pakistan and the Pak-American community as backward, we will not be afraid of discussing taboo subjects in a constructive manner

These are noble goals and, as a Pak-American (not sure about the progressive bit), I applaud their sentiment to engage with the American reading public. Highlighting the artists, writers and thinkers in the Pakistani diaspora to the larger media can, hopefully, give exposure to them as well as building a nation-wide community. The magazine is an initiative by Develop in Peace (DIP), a non-profit. It is available for sale at the cost of $8.

The first issue contains an essay and a book review by Bapsi Sidhwa and an interview with Sabiha Sumar. Miniature painter Shazia Sikander gets good coverage. More importantly, is the photo essay by CM's official photographer Sheheryar Hasnain. Some of Sheheryar's work can be seen here. The best piece, for me, was on the Urdu/Pakistani press in NY after 9/11 by Rehan Ansari which finds that the Urdu press has been slow to respond to the needs of Pakistani here and has not engaged with local communities - serving mostly as a translation tool. He does highlight The Pakistan News and Muslim Weekly as bucking the trend and giving space to women columnists.

Grab a copy if you see it.
*: To Chowrang is to carve into 4 pieces with a stroke of your sword


Qalandar | October 24, 2013

Sorry, not sure where else to post this, but I saw Sabiha Sumar's "Good Morning Karachi" at the recent Mumbai film festival: pretty darn disappointing: "Samar's follow up to to the critically acclaimed Khamosh Paani (2003) is embarrassing, right from its old-as-the-hills plot -- a lower middle-class young woman wants to make it big as a model, chafing against a bunch of societal restrictions, even as the notion of modeling serving as a liberatory vehicle is never critically examined -- to its stilted use of English -- the dialog is just bad, but in any event the film needed a lot more Urdu, and the wafer-thin conceit about the female protagonist wanting to practice and improve her English at every opportunity just doesn't hold up -- to the woeful miscasting of Pakistani model Amna Ilyas as the film's protagonist (Rafina), who dreams of a modeling career and escape from her stifling environment in a modest part of Karachi. You can't really hope for two dimensions for the characters here, much less three: this is the kind of film where the posh set can be expected to bemoan the fact that you can't get a good bagel in Karachi as a huge issue; or where modeling agencies are run by men who say (with no discernible directorial tongue-in-cheek) they are taking Pakistan back from the mullahs (one might even say that in making the country safe for unabashed consumerism, they are doing God's work); or where Benazir Bhutto's 2007 return from exile (and subsequent assassination) serves as backdrop for completely obscure reasons. Based on this film, and her responses at the Q&;A session at the festival, Samar risks becoming the purveyor-in-chief of two separate myths: one, about Pakistan as simply That Dangerous Place; the other, no less insidious, and much beloved of many in the urban elite, is that the country is just as cool as anyplace else, with its share of glitterati (undoubtedly true, but no one who ISN'T part of this set seems to be having any fun in Samar's Karachi, and must content themselves with shouting at political demonstrations; burning billboards; or just generally being caught on camera as part of the scenery); moreover, the fact that the film gets the odd barb in at a sneering elite (those scenes themselves border on caricature) enables it to leave unexamined the entire structure of elite privilege (and the modernizing discourse it uncritically advances), and hence the nature of any promised liberation. Both myths dovetail into the old one: if retrogrades like the mullahs would just get out of the way, the country might just reach the Mecca of modernity. I don't mean to deny Samar the right to make a fairy tale: but the idiom of art-house cinema is not the appropriate one: the Hollywood or Bollywood musical is by far the better vehicle for superficiality."