Pakistani actress Saba Qamar breaks Bollywood

Saba Qamar was not able to be as hands on with her promotions for “Hindi Medium” as she would have liked. (Photo courtesy: Twitter)
Updated 22 January 2018
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Pakistani actress Saba Qamar breaks Bollywood

LAHORE: A number of Pakistan’s top talent have crossed the border to act in Bollywood, however, relations between the countries took a negative turn last year and Pakistanis were loudly told that they and their acting prowess would not be welcomed in India.
After Fawad Khan’s massively successful turn in “Khoobsurat” and “Kapoor and Sons,” it seemed as though a new tide was turning with the sharing of talent from both sides of the border. Following the ban by the Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA) on Pakistani actors, singers and technicians from working on Indian films, Pakistani actress Mahira Khan was famously not able to attend promotions for her debut in “Raees.” Sajal Aly and Adnan Siddiqui were also held back from their promotions for the critically-acclaimed “Mom” and Saba Qamar too was not able to be as hands on with her promotions for “Hindi Medium” as she would have liked.
Despite the controversy of asking Pakistani actors to vacate the premises, Qamar continued filming Hindi Medium, a film that went on to become a major box office success and was loved by critics with a tremendous amount of praise coming Qamar’s way for her role as a middle class woman wanting to keep up with the Jones’ and get her daughter into a posh school.
That praise, those box office numbers and the appreciation of fans on both sides of the Pakistan-India border all resulted in Qamar being the first Pakistani actress to score a Leading Actor nomination at India’s Filmfare Awards.
The recognition by the Filmfare Awards, held by the Times Group and in its 63rd year, is not a small one. Often dubbed as the Indian Oscars, the awards celebrate artistic and technical excellence across Bollywood’s booming film industry. For actors from Pakistan who head to India to make films, backlash has always been swift and quick.
Qamar, whose talents are largely undisputed in her home country, was not spared the fan hate for heading over and shooting her film. When the film was slated for release in Pakistan, few were expecting it to be worthy of her talent as Pakistani actors’ (particularly for female actors) roles in Bollywood have so far left little to be desired, but the film spoke for itself.
In addition to her nomination, the film itself received a total of five nominations at the Filmfare Awards, including Best Film, Irfan Khan for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Male), Saket Chaudhary for Best Director and Deepak Dobriyal for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Male). It was also announced that Hindi Medium was chosen by the Indian Embassy to be screened at the annual Festival of Indian films in Armenia.


Iraq says goodbye to its beloved archaeologist Al-Gailani

Updated 21 January 2019
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Iraq says goodbye to its beloved archaeologist Al-Gailani

  • Al-Gailani was one of Iraq’s first women to excavate the country’s archaeological heritage
  • After the US-led invasion, Al-Gailani continued to travel to Iraq, determined to rescue its heritage even as the country convulsed with war

BAGHDAD: Iraq on Monday mourned the loss of Lamia Al-Gailani, a beloved archaeologist who helped rebuild the Baghdad museum after it was looted following the 2003 US-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.
Al-Gailani, who died in Amman, Jordan, on Friday at the age of 80, was one of Iraq’s first women to excavate the country’s archaeological heritage.
Relatives, colleagues, and cultural officials on Monday gathered at Baghdad’s National Museum, the country’s leading museum, to pay their respects before moving her remains to the Qadiriyyah mosque for prayers and later interment.
A devotee of her country’s heritage, Al-Gailani lent her expertise to restore relics stolen from the museum for its reopening in 2015. She also championed a new antiquities museum for the city of Basra, which opened in 2016.
“She was very keen to communicate on the popular level and make archaeology accessible to ordinary people,” said her daughter, Noorah Al-Gailani, who curates the Islamic civilizations collection at the Glasgow Museum in Scotland.
“It is a big loss, the passing of Dr. Lamia Al-Gailaini, who played a great role in the field of archaeology, even before 2003,” said the deputy minister of culture, Qais Hussein Rashid.
The restored collection at the National Museum included hundreds of cylinder seals, the subject of Al-Gailani’s 1977 dissertation at the University of London. These were engraved surfaces used to print cuneiform impressions and pictographic lore onto documents and surfaces in ancient Mesopotamia, now present-day Iraq.
Still, thousands of artefacts remain missing from the museum’s collection, and Al-Gailani bore the grief of watching her country’s rich heritage suffer unfathomable levels of looting and destruction in the years after Saddam’s ouster.
“I wish it was a nightmare and I could wake up,” she told the BBC in 2015, when Daesh militants bulldozed relics at the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud near present-day Mosul.
Born in Baghdad in 1938, Al-Gailani studied at the University of Cambridge in Britain before finding work as a curator at the National Museum in 1960. It was her first job in archaeology, her daughter said.
She returned to Britain in 1970 to pursue advanced studies, and she made her home there. Still, she kept returning to her native country, connecting foreign academics with an Iraqi archaeological community that was struggling under the isolation of Saddam Hussein’s autocratic rule and the UN sanctions against him.
In 1999, she published “The First Arabs,” in Arabic, with the Iraqi archaeologist Salim Al-Alusi, on the earliest traces of Arab culture in Mesopotamia, in the 6th through 9th centuries.
She would bring copies of the book with her to Baghdad and sell them through a vendor on Mutanabbi Street, the literary heart of the capital, according to her daughter.
After the US-led invasion, Al-Gailani continued to travel to Iraq, determined to rescue its heritage even as the country convulsed with war.
At the time of her death, she was working with the Basra Museum to curate a new exhibit set to open in March, said Qahtan Al-Abeed, the museum director.
“She hand-picked the cylinder seals to display at the museum,” said Al-Abeed.