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

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.


‘Into the Wild’ movie luring unprepared to Alaska wilderness

Updated 28 February 2020

‘Into the Wild’ movie luring unprepared to Alaska wilderness

  • Adventurers following in McCandless footsteps finding trouble themselves
  • Families of some of those who have died are proposing looking at building a footbridge over the River Teklanika

ANCHORAGE, Alaska: For more than a quarter-century, the old bus abandoned in Alaska’s punishing wilderness has drawn adventurers seeking to retrace the steps of a young idealist who met a tragic death in the derelict vehicle.
For many, Christopher McCandless’ legend was cemented in the “Into the Wild” book and movie. But scores of travelers following his journey along the Stampede Trail just outside Denali National Park have been rescued and others have died in the harsh reality of back-country terrain,
It is marked by no cell phone service, unpredictable weather and the raging Teklanika River, whose swollen banks prevented the 24-year-old Virginian from seeking help before his 1992 starvation death.
Now families of some of those who died are proposing looking at building a footbridge over the Teklanika. The effort is led by the husband of a 24-year-old newlywed woman from Belarus who died last year trying to reach the bus.
“People keep going there despite multiple accidents reported,” said Piotr Markielau, who was with his wife Veramika Maikamava when she was swept away by the river. “Making the crossing safer is a social responsibility. It is also a constructive and humane way to learn from people who died there.”
But some local officials in Denali Borough in Healy, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) away, fear a footbridge could give people a false impression of safety that doesn’t exist.
“It’ll only encourage more people to go,” says Denali Assembly member Jeff Stenger, who rejects the bridge idea and would prefer to see warning signs posted in the area.
Borough Mayor Clay Walker wants to see the bus relocated to a safer location on the other side of the Teklanika with the help of federal and state agencies.
“This bus has meaning to a lot of people, and the challenge will be to put together a plan that works for all,” Walker said.
A bridge would not have made a difference in the latest rescue. It involved five Italian tourists — one with frostbitten feet — who were rescued Saturday after visiting the dilapidated bus. There are other hazards, including harsh weather and dangerous terrain. Some attempting the trip are ill-prepared.
The long-discarded bus sits in a clearing on state land roughly half a mile (0.8 kilometers) from the boundary of the Denali National Park and Preserve.
Travelers often traverse park land to get to the bus, which was left in the wilderness to house construction crews working to improve the trail so trucks could haul ore from a mine, according to the book. It’s outfitted with a barrel stove and bunks, and McCandless wrote in his journal about living there for 114 days, right up until his death.
Author Jon Krakauer, who wrote “Into the Wild,” said he is “saddened and horrified” by the deaths of people trying to cross the Teklanika. He’s also skeptical building a bridge or moving the bus will solve the problem.
“I really don’t know what can be done or should be done about the unprepared ‘pilgrims’ who get into trouble and perish or need to be rescued,” he said in an email to The Associated Press. “I have no objection to removing the bus, or building a bridge to it, if a persuasive argument can be made that doing either of these things would solve the problem. I am skeptical about the wisdom of either of these proposed measures, however.”
McCandless’ sister agrees. Carine McCandless believes people will keep trying to reach the site, regardless of what locals decide. She said people send her messages every day from all over the world, identifying with her brother’s story, and she understands why people continue to make the trek.
“It is not Chris’s story they are following, it is their own, even if they don’t realize it at the time,” she said. “And as far as the lure of the bus — it’s not about the bus, either. If the bus is moved, people will simply erect a memorial in its place and continue to go there.”