LAHORE-The first day of two-day Heritage Now festival welcomed a large number of attendees from across the country to celebrate the cultural richness of Pakistan, at the Alhamra Arts Council Lahore on Saturday.

One of the interesting and much awaited sessions was Artistic License, Identity and Memory: Drawing from Heritage. The session was moderated by Film maker Mira Hashmi and the panelists were renowned Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, Musician Ali Hamza, Fashion designer Sonya Battla, British Council Pakistan Arts Director Raania Azam Khan Durrani and Producer Saqib Malik. The discussion aimed to investigate the employment of cultural archetypes in the music, drama, film and fashion industries. It highlighted the everyday choices people make, while consuming different forms of entertainment and celebrating a certain aesthetic to inform our physical outlook particularly reflecting upon the cultural consciousness of the society.

When asked about source of inspiration from the panelists Sharmeen Obaid said, “I work in very difficult circumstances. I get inspiration from all ordinary men and women who are outside of our headlines you don’t really hear about them but everyday they wake up, go out into the world with a smile on their faces. So for me it is all the ordinary men and women who live in this country that are transforming the community and risking their lives,” she said.

Saqib Malik said, “The work of making an ad is so tricky you have to bring the traffic in 30 seconds. As a filmmaker we have to create stories and reach out to people. For me my inspiration is surely the people I meet. I take inspiration from common people and make an Advertisement,” Saqib said.

 Answering a question on the preference being given to English language rather than Urdu language Ali Hamza said, “When I and Ali Noor were growing up together. Noor saw a video of Def Leppard musical band and that band became his source of inspiration in music. But I feel it all varies upon the demand of music which our youth wants. Most Pakistanis have been brought up speaking our national language Urdu and English. Instead of conversing in Urdu, many of us lapse into English during everyday conversation. Even people who do not speak English very well try their best to sneak in a sentence or two, considering it pertinent for their acceptance in the ‘cooler’ crowd.

Sharmeen Obaid said, “Our youth has grown up watching Bollywood and Hollywood films. There is a need to bring our national languages in Pakistan because it brings people together in some way but we must emphasis on regional language as well.  When I was growing up I didn’t learn Pushto and other languages but I really want my Children to learn all Pakistani languages. The more languages you know the richer you become as a person. We must understand there is a beauty in our regional languages which needs to be educated among our youth. I always wear traditional clothes in award functions because it presents my countries identity,” Sharmeen said.

Commenting on the growing trend of celebrating Paindo day in universities the panelists were of the view: 

Fashion designer Sonya Battla said, “I think our youth have become so much status conscience. They feel that they don’t have any option which disturbs me the most.

We always have an option to take a heritage with ourselves it all depends upon priorities. Traditional clothes represent our culture and identity. It is necessary to hold on to them if we wish to preserve our traditions. If we are not going to promote our customs then nobody will, and it is likely that it will become extinct. However, they should keep in mind that their identity is represented by the way they dress,” Sonya said.

Ali Hamza said, “There is confusion about identity. We are so much conscious about ourselves. When you travel from Lahore towards Multan you will see many culture identities. I feel we should start finding our identity and aware our youngsters. Our appearance is greatly affected by the clothes we wear and it is because of this reason that a growing number of people have begun to question whether we should wear our traditional clothes or follow western trends,” Hamza said.

Sharmeen Obaid said that it is cool to celebrate Paindo day in universities. Somehow they are promoting their culture and learning about it. We should appreciate them rather than degrading them.