The multi-talented sports person Noorena Shams from Lower Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had a long journey before becoming a famous name in squash circles. Her never-say-never attitude helped her to overcome the hurdles to represent Pakistan at many international sporting events and social forums. 21-year-old Noorena has a distinction of being the first Pakistani athlete to have spoken at the Human Rights Council of the United Nations about issues of harassment in sports. After a disastrous start at the Pakistan Open Squash Championship in 2017, when she along with a majority of the Pakistani players, were knocked out in the first round. She approached the top professional coach Amir Wagih and sought admission to his academy in Washington DC and did a 6-months extensive training there. In July 2018, Noorena travelled to Bristol to attend the Elite Squash Academy where she was trained by the top coach Hadrian Stiff for the international events. More focused than ever, Noreena is now determined to display her A-game at the National Squash Championship scheduled to take place sometime next year.
Mahira Miyanji, a social activist from Lyari, Karachi has won the N-Peace network award for Untold Stories Pakistan. N-Peace is a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Asia and the Pacific’s initiative founded in 2010 to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. Mahira won the award after gaining the unanimous vote of support by both public and the judges. Besides her, there were six other Pakistani women achievers from different spheres of society who were shortlisted for the elite nomination. An ecstatic Mahira dedicated her award to the girls of Lyari who believed in the power of education. She has established the Woman Is A Nation (WIN) welfare organization in 2013, a platform that provides free of charge education for 125 girls through a system of 12 volunteers. The programme has so far benefited more than 3,000 girls in Karachi. Earlier in 2016, Mahira had also received the I Am Karachi Award for her work in education for girls and women.
Social activist and transgender model Kami Sid, has always been vocal about transgenders and their rights. From fashion shoots to short films, Sid has come a long way in a country where transgenders are often ill-treated. Kami has recently made the country proud by winning an award at the NBC Universal Short Film Festival for her short film, Rani. The film, directed by Hammad Rizvi won the Best Direction award at the international platform. Rani was selected among the six finalists out of over 3500 films at the festival that celebrates diversity in storytelling and explores themes surrounding race relations, women’s rights, gender and sexual identity. The film follows the story of a transgender woman who sets out to take up the responsibility of an abandoned infant. Kami, who was invited to the festival and screening said, “I’m so happy I was invited [to the festival]. People here gave me a standing ovation for my performance and I was even nominated for best actress, and it means a lot.”
How about a perfect latte? Meet Tabassum Nasir, Pakistan’s first female deaf and mute barista. A student of the Deaf Reach School, she recently became part of a week-long Family Education Services Foundation (FESF) programme, where she got a chance to train with baristas of different coffee houses, e.g. Coffee Waghera, Del Frio, Espresso, Esquires, Floc, Kookie and Mocca. Having got the required training and certificates, she now feels confident enough to step into the world of coffee herself. Tabassum was admitted to Deaf Reach School and Training Centre at the nursery level. The school was set up by Richard Geary and wife Heidi, who themselves are parents of a differently-abled child. The school is focused on not just education but also empowering and training students in skills that will enable them to earn their living after completing their education.
Actor Dev Patel, who shot to fame with his breakout role in Slumdog Millionaire, is set to make his directorial debut with a thriller in India. Monkey Man, will be a revenge thriller set in modern-day India. Patel has co-written its script with Happy Feet’s writers John Collee and Paul Angunawela. Not the one to take things too easy, he will be seen playing the lead character in the movie. The story of Monkey Man revolves around a kid who emerges from prison to grapple with a world marred by corporate greed and eroding spiritual values. The film is largely set in India. British filmmaker, Michael Winterbottom has met actors in Mumbai and is currently scouting locations, but has not yet revealed plot details. The film’s shoot will kick off in Mumbai next year.
Talented artist, Rashid Rana’s work Red Carpet Series #1, fetched the highest price of PKR 34.4 million (200,000 pounds), among all the artworks by Pakistani artists at an auction of modern and contemporary South Asian Art at Bonham’s in London. The Red Carpet Series #1 is made up of thousands upon thousands of tiny images of slaughtered animals, mostly goats, formed as a mosaic. This is not the first time that Rashid’s work is sold at such a price, he also holds the record of the highest price ever paid (623,000 USD at Sotheby’s New York) for any work of art from Pakistan. Rashid Rana has emerged as the leading figure of an entirely different kind of art from Pakistan. Recognized for his ideas, imagery and pictorial strategies, he has worked in distinctly different mediums, such as paintings, stainless steel sculptures, video installation, photo-sculptures and photo mosaics. His work has been showcased in various prestigious locations including British Museum, London, Metropolitan Museum, New York and Fukuoka Museum, Japan. The Asia Art Society recognized his achievements recently by conferring on him with a coveted award. Rashid is a founding faculty and the current dean of the School of Visual Arts and Design at Beaconhouse National University.
Azaan Sami Khan
The prodigy son of Adnan Sami Khan and Zeba Bakhtiar went through incredible physical transformation and people just can’t stop talking about it. Like his father, 25-year-old Azaan has struggled with being overweight all his life. The condition not only gave rise to multiple health problems, but also hindered his dream of becoming an actor. For the past two and a half years, he has worked hard to get in shape, in hopes of looking good and eyeing acting as a career option. Azaan credits his success to his personal trainer, Pervez Rayani, who he believed was an incredible inspiration during the difficult journey. Azaan is currently composing music for the Maya Ali and Sheheryar Munawar starrer, Paray Hut Love, as well as Mahira Khan and Bilal Ashraf’s upcoming film, Superstar. The toned-up musician would be making his acting debut in an unnamed project next year.