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Natasha Jozi- Maneuvering Performance Art to Show the Darker Side of the Death Penalty

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Natasha Jozi- whenever the name pops up, only one word comes to our mind and that is art or to be more precise, performing art. She is a visual thinker, an artist and also a writer interested in the performative self, collective experience, and Eastern philosophy.

 Talking about her vast experiences, she has performed and exhibited her work at International Festival of Video Art 2014 (Venice), MagnanMetz 2014 (NYC), Index Art Center 2014 (NJ), PPL 2013 (NYC), DCCA 2013 (Delaware), LAABF 2013 (NYC), La MaMa 2013 (NYC).

 In 2017 Jozi founded “House”- an independent initiative that works towards generating discourse around performance art in Pakistan.

We recently came to know that Natasha is curating the show ‘We’ve Been Waiting For You’ hosted by Justice Project Pakistan (working to improve the justice system of Pakistan), happening on 10th of October (“The World Day against Death Penalty”) at Bari Studio and our intriguing self wanted to dig into more details and here is what she had to share about her showcase. 

  • Tell us a little about your partnership with JPP and what do you think about Pakistan’s justice system?

It has been great working with Justice Project Pakistan as a partner and especially coming along with an understanding of what they do in terms of their work and what they represent as an organization. I am working with them under the perspective of bringing an art exhibition together. The partnership has been quite interesting in terms of what art does and what JPP does and how does that come together? I feel the complexities of the justice system are always very difficult for a common man to understand or relate to.

I feel JPP is trying to bridge that gap between the justice system and the complexity that it comes with and that is very similar to what I do under House Ltd. So, I expect that partnership with JPP shall be very interesting because we’ve talked about themes, about ideas and how performance art can be used as a vessel to represent themes that JPP works on.

  • You’ve worked both in Pakistan and abroad what difference do you feel in the sense of how art is valued here and abroad?

I would talk about this in terms of two perspectives. One is as an artist and the other as a viewer. As a performance artist, I’ve experienced that there was initially not much of an understanding of the medium in Pakistan.

And I also feel that in terms of the value of the medium, since a lot of the work that is being produced in Pakistan has an element of becoming a product that you can actually monetize on or you can buy or sell. But performance art is something that cannot take the shape of a product because it’s an experience. It happens for a short period of time and then it’s over. So, it’s very ephemeral in that sense.

In the international art market, artists are delving with themes that cannot be put together in a form package that you can buy or sell. It’s very important to realize that the value of art is beyond buying or selling it, but also, to experience it.

As a viewer, I really enjoy some of the artists’ work in Pakistan but I also feel like there is a lot of potential in young artists, the work that they’re doing where they’re not allowing the market or the business to affect their process. I feel it is very important for an artist to liberate themselves from the fear of value is equal to money because we’re living in an age where innovative ideas are of great significance? I definitely feel that with the wake of the internet, a lot of artists are now traveling abroad and are coming back and just sort of exchange that is happening.

Also, in Pakistan, a lot of times we look at something from an exotic lens or we try to mimic or reproduce what’s being done abroad. I don’t really think that is of value. But at the same time, I definitely see that contemporary artists from my generation are trying to create a more balanced or a more contextualized relationship with what’s happening in Pakistan and what’s happening outside Pakistan.

 

  • What do you think about Justice Project Pakistan?

I was not familiar with JPP before I was contacted by JPP for this particular project. Once I got to know about their work, I met the team and I saw the projects that they have been doing in the past. I was sort of intrigued, and a little amazed to see a human rights organization that is so much invested in the people and what is happening in their lives.

I feel that JPP is trying to bring awareness and spark conversations that are around the justice system. I feel why such organizations are so much needed is that they try to create a more humanize and understandable way of looking at the sensitive issues that people are facing in Pakistan. It is great that they are trying to use disciplines that are beyond just law and trying to reach out to a wider audience. It’s a pleasure to work with them. 

  • How has been your experience of curating performances for ‘We’ve been waiting for you’?

The curatorial experience for me is not just about curating an exhibition as an organizer. For me, it is sort of coming together and trying to create an experience that is long-lasting. I’ve been working with the artists under the initiative that I run called House Ltd. and I have cultivated a relationship with them. So, every time we come together, we go into a deep-rooted conversation, look at what we are doing and try to unpack not just the themes but, also how can this exhibition contribute to the larger discourse of performance art in Pakistan.

And so for this exhibition as well, the ideas that we were dealing with were very real. I spent a lot of time just having conversations with the artists and discussing the craft of performance art.

A lot of the work that we do for performance art is not rehearsed. Thus, it is very authentic as an artist and as a curator to go into that space and to get involved in.

  • With what kind of expectations should people come to this event?

The first thing that I would definitely like to say is that space and the venue that we’ve selected for this exhibition, Bari Studio, is amazing for performance art. The moment I stepped into Bari studio I fell in love with it.

 The audience would definitely experience something that they have never seen before in terms of venue and how it’s used.

Also, we are having 10 performances in one venue. It’s going to be a really charged experience for everybody where all of the artists are dealing with themes around the death penalty and doing performances that are very authentic and very raw. The materials that the artists have used in the performances range from, real bones to bricks to sand. Going from one performance to another where all of these have been curated in relationship to one another, each performance will be experienced individually, but then all of them coming together is going to have an impact of its own.

  • What is art for you?

That is definitely a very loaded question. I would say for me art is about an experience, what you experience when you look at something. It is not just a visual experience, but a very sensory experience. That is why performance art is a medium that I’m addicted to.

It cannot be confined. I definitely have a lot of reservations about the way the market dictates the production of art. I don’t think that one should allow the market to dictate what the artist is going to make or what art should be because art is definitely about looking at life and looking at what is around you from an unfazed way.

Art can actually supersede or can reach a point of impacting a larger audience and can eventually become universal and transcend space and time and location.

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MY Genre Of Work Is Comedy: Danish Nawaz

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Danish Nawaz needs no introduction when it comes to acting and direction. Hailing from a family of artists, Nawaz entered into showbiz industry after completing his bachelors in mechanical engineering. Since then, he has established a career in Pakistani television and films mostly in comedy roles. His comic role on sitcom Nadaniya is still remembered by viewers. Another forte of Nawaz is his direction skills. He has many successful television plays on his credit as a director like Kashf, Chupke Chupke, Dobara and Hum Tum.  

The talented star took out some time to talk to The Daily Paparazzi from the sets of his recently aired Ramazan Special serial Hum Tum. Here it is.

What was special for the audience in your Ramzan Special drama serial Hum Tum?

It is just a family entertainment to make people happy and bring laughter to their faces. Our lives have already become very chaotic, vanishing every fun element from it. We have become intolerant as well and people get offended by little jokes. Therefore, I wanted to make a little change in every household in Pakistan through this light comedy television drama.

You had an ensemble cast in Hum Tum. How was the experience with them?

It was wonderful.  All actors are experienced. Luckily they have worked under the banner of Hum TV, so know the style of production there. Everyone enjoyed the sets as they were already aware about the genre of the play. Moreover, yes! Most of them knew me as well

Did you face any problem during shoot like timings, availability of actors and locations as the cast was big, and time was very limited to record the play?

Not at all. Instead, it adds to my enjoyment and excitement when I have a big cast to work with. Beside the leading cast, I have seniors like Muhammad Ahmed, Arjumand Rahim, Adnan Jaffer and Farhan Ali Agha, Uzma Baig and Munazzah Arif, and two child stars Aina and Anoushay as well. I was lucky enough to work with this talented team. Everything was managed quite well. Moreover, we had a wonderful script of Hum Tum written by Saima Akram Chaudhry. She has an expertise of writing family stories.

What when gets a weak playwright, and has to put more effort as a director to make it ready to run with directions and choice of actors

It has not happened with me yet but yes whenever I am doubtful about anything in the story, I sit with the writer and try to solve the confusion. We have a special content department in MD Productions at Hum TV, where we discuss these things. I try my best to get the script up to mark before going on set. I believe that strong content is very necessary for any director. Without a proper plot, we can never erect a strong building.

Besides comedy and light stories, you have also directed plays on very serious issues, which have been very successful as well. What do you enjoy most?

I think the genre of comedy is quite difficult though I enjoy it a lot. Actually, everyone has his or her sense of humour when it comes to comedy and jokes but as far as serious stories are concerned, people somehow accept it especially when it is on a social issue. Yes, I am comfortable directing serious plays but there should be a message in that. In many plays, I try to convey the serious issue in a comic way.

Now come to your acting. You opt mostly in comedy roles. When are your fans going to see you in a serious role?

To be honest, it would be a bit difficult for me. I think comedy is my own style, and find it more comfortable and easy doing comic roles. You need to make an extra effort especially when putting glycerine for tears in crying scenes. I have an idea that even directors and producers would not suggest me for the serious role nor would people accept me in a crying scene. I have a trademark image of a comedy actor. Yes, I might work in a very tragic play or film but my role would be of comic relief in that.

Don’t you think doing the same kind of roles hinders actors’ versatility?

Honestly speaking it is not my genre of acting. I sometimes find serious roles very funny. Again yes, if I get something, which really attracts me, I would try but really not the public would accept it or not.

After a successful career as a drama director, when are you going to direct a film?

Oh, yes. It is in the pipeline. For film, I am looking for a good script, which is an integral part of the whole product. For dramas, I get too many scripts and always have options to select one. Films are expensive, need heavy investment. That is why one should work on ideas, which can appeal to the public so they are ready to spend on cinema tickets to watch them. Our budget is not very ample like Hollywood and Bollywood. We make films on any script of our choice.

Unfortunately, we are still confused about what our masses actually want to watch. When we make a film with a strong storyline, critics rate it a television drama and if we incorporate more action, it is called a copy of Tamil films. Therefore, it is very tricky to make a film in Pakistan. I hope I will soon get a clicking story soon and will definitely direct a film.

Do you have any idea or story in your mind on which you want to make a film?

No. Not at this moment.

In the end, any message for your fans

Keep watching and appreciating our dramas and films. We try our best to give you the best entertainment, which at the same time sends little messages, which can improve your current and future life and vanquish the regret of past life.

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IPPA Announces Its Fifth Instalment

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IPPA (International Pakistan Prestige Awards) announced its fifth instalment to be held Dallas, Texas, USA, on July 23 at a press conference in Karachi.

The programme was kick-started with a red carpet where celebrities, particularly those who have been part of previous IPPAs shared their previous experiences.

The host of the evening, Shanaz Ramzi, who has been an integral part of IPPA since it started in 2017, welcomed the guests and expressed her delight that her company has been associated for more than five years with IPPA, the only independent Pakistani awards that has consistently been doing successful shows abroad.  A presentation was also shown that featured excerpts from the previous IPPAs.

Co-founder IPPA, Ali Malik, who could not attend the conference because of his engagement in another event in Manchester, sent his special message for the event.

The message read “It gives me the utmost pleasure to announce the fifth IPPA, after successfully holding it consistently in different parts of the world. Our vision was to project a positive image of Pakistan abroad and we have been successful in doing that by showcasing our talent in the field of drama, films, music and fashion. I am delighted to announce that the next IPPA will be in the US, and we are joining hands with a seasoned US-based company to execute the event. I am grateful to HUM TV, all our partners, sponsors and of course our highly talented artistes who have been supporting us from day one, and continue to do so to date. Let’s make the fifth IPPA rock!”

Another co-founder of IPPA, Mukhtar Ahmed while addressing the audience, expressed his pride and joy for the successful trail of IPPs, “It is a very ambitious move on our part, but we are confident that together, we will pull it off! Our objective of taking IPPA to different parts of the world is not just to project our marvellous talent but also to strengthen Pakistan’s ties with the country hosting us. We hope to increase trade and export our talent to these places once they are exposed to what we have to offer.”

IPPA has joined hands with Azhar Zaidi, aka AZ, who runs AZ Entertainment, a US-based company to host the fifth IPPA in Dallas, Texas.

Azhar Zaidi showed his excitement by saying, “I am delighted to be joining hands this time with IPPA to host the fifth IPPA in Dallas. We have a huge Pakistani diaspora there and as you have just seen, and we are very comfortable pulling of mammoth shows in Dallas. I am confident that with our combined efforts we will be able to make the next IPPA even more successful than the previous ones, Inshallah!”

Celebrities, who have been part of IPPA earlier, or hope to be this time round, then shared their experiences/emotions.

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Dewan Motors Launches Centre For BMW Motorrad In Lahore

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The world-renowned premium motorcycle brand BMW Motorrad marks a new era by joining hand with already well-known Dewan Motors in Pakistan. Dewan Motors has appointed famous rock musician, actor Mr. Umair Jaswal as the BMW Motorrad, brand Ambassador for Pakistan.

Having a heritage of cutting-edge German technology, the Motorrad Centre was inaugurated in Lahore last week by Nabiha Yousuf, CEO, Dewan Motors Private Limited along with Israr Ahmad, Area Manager, BMW Group Middle East and Umair Jaswal, BMW Motorrad Brand Ambassador in Pakistan.

“The BMW Group congratulates its partner Dewan Motors for launching Motorrad in Pakistan. It is great news for Pakistani motorbikes enthusiasts to get their hands on top quality BMW motorbikes. This is yet another BMW Group and Dewan Motors strategic initiative to enhance the BMW footprint in Pakistan and we look forward to welcoming our customers to try our fantastic motorbikes”, said Mr. Israr Ahmad, Area Manager, BMW Group Middle East.

“We are very excited to announce the opening of the first Motorrad Centre in Lahore. It is the only officially represented premium motorcycle franchise in the country. This state-of-the art facility will cater to all the needs of our esteemed BMW motorcyclist and will provide them an environment that is as hospitable as it is professionally focused”, said Ms. Nabiha Yousuf, CEO, Dewan Motors.

Yousuf showed her delight to have Mr. Umair Jaswal as the BMW Motorrad Brand Ambassador explaining that in addition to being the country’s biggest rockstar, Umair’s personal affinity for BMW motorcycles, made him the obvious choice.

“With him on board, one can anticipate that BMW Motorrad journey will be a lot more entertaining. We warmly welcome Umair to Dewan family and look forward to our fruitful association.”

An avid biker, Umair Jaswal was very enthusiastic to be the celebrity representing BMW Motorrad in Pakistan.

“I am very excited to be the face of Motorrad brand as well as emotional at the same time to have become a part of Dewan family”, said Umar Jaswal.

The singer added that riding motorcycles was his passion and no other brand than BMW Motorrad could satiate his desire to perfection.

The event was highlighted by the participation of hard-core enthusiasts, who came from far and wide, including the capital city, rendering the glittering event, even more memorable.

Motorrad is a premium motorcycle brand, building fascinating and dynamic motorcycles from long-distance enduros to racing bikes, exclusive luxury touring motorcycles to cool urban bikes whereas Dewan Motors has almost two decades of experience in representing premium automotive brand, BMW in Pakistan.

Earlier, in Karachi, Dewan Motors signed a MOU with Umair Jaswal, stating him as brand ambassador for Motorrad.    

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