Pakistan’s top 5 pop culture moments that made waves in 2017

Singer-songwriter Atif Aslam (L) was applauded for helping a female fan while The Herald magazine named Mashal Khan its person of the year (R). (Photographs courtesy: AFP/ The Herald magazine)
Updated 10 January 2018
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Pakistan’s top 5 pop culture moments that made waves in 2017

LAHORE: Pakistan experienced a profoundly-polarizing 2017. From politics to entertainment and fashion, there were some soaring highs and debilitating lows in the country. The Pakistani entertainment industry saw various pop culture moments that went viral, launched memes, won the adoration of fans and, in some cases, even came close to breaking the Internet.
Atif Aslam protects his fans
In January, singer-songwriter Atif Aslam stopped mid-performance at a show in Karachi to stop a female fan in the audience from being harassed by a male concert goer. The clip went viral and had many applauding the singer for his act and for bringing attention to the issue of harassment. After the issue had been resolved, Aslam told the young men involved to “act like human beings” before continuing with his performance.
Mahira Khan, Ranbir Kapoor and that dress
Beloved by millions and fresh on the heels of launching a Bollywood career, social media was set alight as old photos surfaced of actress Mahira Khan taking a break from a night out in the company of Bollywood A-lister Ranbir Kapoor. If her choice of company was not enough to cause chaos, she was photographed wearing a white sundress and toting a cigarette in one hand. Social media, blogs and even newspapers weighed in on the snap. Khan, who stayed mum on the subject until her first public appearance following it — in which she cheekily wore a white suit — said that what she does in her private life is just that, her private life. Many other celebrities, from both Bollywood and Lollywood, came to her defense. Some, like Osman Khalid Butt, posted a tongue-in-cheek video of him lighting a cigarette meant as a jab at the media for not making a male smoker into a headline story while simultaneously doing so with a female smoker.

‘Help Me, Durdana:’ The reigning success of Punjab Nahin Jaungi
Punjab Nahin Jaungi is one of the most successful films to come out of Pakistan’s cinema revival to date. Written by Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar and directed by Nadeem Beyg, the film starred Humayun Saeed, Mehwish Hayat and Urwa Hocane. The film was start-to-finish hilarious, with great dialogue that played to the strengths of the actors delivering the lines. But like many films that have launched in the social media age, one line was delivered with such beauty by a number of actors that it catapulted the film and the line itself into viral status. “Help me, Durdana” — the line uttered by a romantically-challenged character to another character called Durdana — was Pakistan’s own viral meme.

Saba Qamar’s role in the Qandeel Baloch biopic drama
Actress Saba Qamar made waves when she announced she would take on the haunting role of murdered social media star Qandeel Baloch in a biopic drama called “Baaghi.” The film is set to deal with the issue of honor killings, in particular the murder of controversial star Qandeel Baloch by her brother in 2016.
Qamar announced that she would play the role in the spring of 2017, alongside actors Sarmad Khoosat, Ali Kazmi and Osman Khalid Butt.
The Herald names Mashal Khan as their person of the year
In April, university student Mashal Khan was lynched by a mob in the northwestern city of Mardan after being accused of blasphemy.
The mob kicked in the door, dragged Khan from his room and beat him to death, witnesses and police said.
Those who knew Khan described him as an intellectually-curious student who openly professed devotion to Islam but asked many questions, Reuters reported in April.
“Whatever he had to say, he would say it openly, but he didn’t understand the environment he was living in,” one of Khan’s teachers at Abdul Wali Khan University, who declined to be named for fear of retribution, told Reuters.
Khan was honored by The Herald magazine, a Pakistan Herald Publications Limited magazine, as its most influential person of the year. The slain student was featured on the magazine’s year-end cover page.

And what is to come? The coming year looks to be full of pop culture gold, with the release of “Parchi” — a film about a gang led by a woman — promising to tackle stereotypical roles that leading ladies are often found in. Seasoned actor Adnan Siddiqui’s “Ghuggi” is a period drama about the days leading up to the partition of India that is also making a lot of buzz on the movie scene. As for the viral memes, celebrity snafus and defining moments of 2018, we will just have to wait and see.


Tens of thousands converge on California ‘poppy apocalypse’

A woman poses for a photo among poppies in bloom on the hills of Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore, California, on March 8, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 7 min 17 sec ago
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Tens of thousands converge on California ‘poppy apocalypse’

  • More than 6,000 people on a recent Saturday stopped at the visitor’s center at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

LAKE ELSINORE, California: Like Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz,” the Southern California city of Lake Elsinore is being overwhelmed by the power of the poppies.
About 150,000 people over the weekend flocked to see this year’s rain-fed flaming orange patches of poppies lighting up the hillsides near the city of about 60,000 residents, about a 90-minute drive from either San Diego or Los Angeles.
Interstate 15 was a parking lot. People fainted in the heat; a dog romping through the fields was bitten by a rattlesnake.
A vibrant field of poppies lures Dorothy into a trap in the “Wizard of Oz” when the wicked witch, acknowledging that no one can resist their beauty, poisons the wildflowers and she slips into a fatal slumber until the good witch reverses the spell.
Lake Elsinore had tried to prepare for the crush of people drawn by the super bloom, a rare occurrence that usually happens about once a decade because it requires a wet winter and warm temperatures that stay above freezing.
It offered a free shuttle service to the top viewing spots, but it wasn’t enough.
Sunday traffic got so bad that Lake Elsinore officials requested law enforcement assistance from neighboring jurisdictions. At one point, the city pulled down the curtain and closed access to poppy-blanketed Walker Canyon.
“It was insane, absolutely insane,” said Mayor Steve Manos, who described it as a “poppy apocalypse.”
By Monday the #poppyshutdown announced by the city on Twitter was over and the road to the canyon was re-opened.
And people were streaming in again.
Young and old visitors to the Lake Elsinore area seemed equally enchanted as they snapped selfies against the natural carpet of iridescent orange.
Some contacted friends and family on video calls so they could share the beauty in real time. Artists propped canvasses on the side of the trail to paint the super bloom, while drones buzzed overhead.
Patty Bishop, 48, of nearby Lake Forest, was on her second visit. The native Californian had never seen such an explosion of color from the state flower. She battled traffic Sunday but that didn’t deter her from going back Monday for another look. She got there at sunrise and stayed for hours.
“There’s been so many in just one area,” she said. “I think that’s probably the main reason why I’m out here personally is because it’s so beautiful.”
Stephen Kim and his girlfriend got to Lake Elsinore even before sunrise Sunday to beat the crowds but there were already hundreds of people.
The two wedding photographers hiked on the designated trails with an engaged couple to do a photo shoot with the flowers in the background, but they were upset to see so many people going off-trail and so much garbage. They picked up as many discarded water bottles as they could carry.
“You see this beautiful pristine photo of nature but then you look to the left and there’s plastic Starbucks cups and water bottles on the trail and selfie sticks and people having road rage because some people were walking slower,” said Kim, 24, of Carlsbad.
Andy Macuga, honorary mayor of the desert town of Borrego Springs, another wildflower hotspot, said he feels for Lake Elsinore.
In 2017, a rain-fed super bloom brought in more than a half-million visitors to the town of 3,500. Restaurants ran out of food. Gas stations ran out of fuel. Traffic backed up on a single road for 20 miles (32 kilometers).
The city is again experiencing a super bloom.
The crowds are back. Hotels are full. More than 6,000 people on a recent Saturday stopped at the visitor’s center at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California’s largest park with 1,000 square miles (2,590 sq. kilometers).
But it helps that the masses of blooms are appearing in several different areas this time, and some sections are fading, while others are lighting up with flowers, helping to disperse the crowds a bit.
Most importantly, Macuga said, the town’s businesses prepared this time as if a major storm was about to hit. His restaurant, Carlee’s, is averaging more than 550 meals a day, compared to 300 on a normal March day.
“We were completely caught off guard in 2017 because it was the first time that we had had a flower season like this with social media,” he said. “It helps now knowing what’s coming.”