LAHORE  -   The last day of Faiz International Festival concluded at the Alhamra Arts Council on Sunday with a spectacular performance by iconic ghazal singer Tina Sani.

Renowned poets, writers, scholars, columnists, politicians and actors spoke on the life of Faiz Ahmad Faiz and related topics.

At a session titled ‘Women of Media’, panelists Samina Ahmed, Seemi Raheal and Zeba Bakhtiyar talked about their journey in the entertainment industry. Moderated by veteran actor Bushra Ansari, the session was so much jam-packed that the organisers had to close the doors of Hall No 1.

Speaking about judgement on actors, Bushra said: “Yes, you need some sensitivity in the way you present yourself to your public. But to judge someone for wearing jeans [as if] it automatically means they are not good women is not healthy.”

She said she thinks that telling someone they should or should not wear a gown, pants or a hijab is an unhealthy form of criticism. “I am glad in our times we didn’t have the disease of social media; otherwise, I would never have joined acting. Your appearance is a reflection of who and what you are - fashion can be dated, an individual should not be,” she said.

Speaking about her journey, Zeba said: “A person’s life and desire to achieve self-realisation can never be without trials and tests. I don’t like to call it a struggle; I consider it learning. Yes, there were many disillusionments and disappointments. In fact those are what stand out most in my memory. Until you experience a thing for yourself it always appears more desirable and attractive. It is much easier for a woman to make her mark than a man. It depends entirely on your attitude and approach to a situation that empowers or weakens you.”

“I remember once I was attending a wedding. Suddenly, someone came to me and said: “You should be ashamed; you married a politician. I was shocked and said, ‘no, this news is totally fake’.” So, it is really unfair to post pictures of celebs and link them to unknown persons just for the sake of publicity. “I agree once we become an actor we are public property but we also have some privacy,” Zeba said.

Speaking about her journey in showbiz, Samina Ahmed said: “Without hard work no one can be successful in life. We should face the problems of life and overcome them with grace and dignity. Celebs are also human beings; if they are giving a smile on television; this doesn’t mean they don’t have any problems.”

“I have seen the time when Alhamra didn’t have such huge halls. When I was the programme manager of Lahore Arts Council (LAC), I floated the idea of puppet theatre in 1984. Saleema Hashmi, who was teaching at the National College of Arts those days, sent some students who voluntarily crafted puppets. The theatre became popular in a matter of few days,” Samina recalled.

Expressing her views about her personal life, Samina said: “I remember there was a special programme on 14th August at Alhamra. The technology wasn’t advanced as now. So, at the backdrop we had to show the birds chirping at sunset. We became so much busy in shooting that in morning birds voices were chirping in hears. I took a break from shooting, went back to home, got my children ready for school and came back to work. So, you have to go through many hurdles while working in the showbiz industry.”

Speaking about her journey, Seemi Raheal said: “My journey in the media industry was fun and a learning experience. We live in a society where if a woman works, people will point out but when it comes to a man they won’t speak.”

“When my grandfather got me admission to the National College of Arts (NCA), people started criticising him. He used to say, “What I wanted to teach her I have taught. Now she is an adult and that is her life. When I joined Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV), my parents didn’t accompany me. But when it came to my own daughter, those people started saying, ‘Acha ab beti dramo mein ae ge’, ‘Ab wo film be kary ge’ but coincidently when my son joined film industry no one pointed out. My both children are actors and I am proud of them. I don’t care how much they earn; they are good human beings that is enough for me,” said Seemi.

A dance performance by Lahore Grammar School and a theatre play by Sangat Productions were also appreciated by the audience. The festival concluded with the music performance by iconic ghazal singer Tina Sani who recited the renditions of Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

Faizan Javed