Looking Back & Moving Forward ~Goodbye 2017 & Welcome 2018

‘Tis  was season …

Much like mine, up until very recently I’m sure your social media feeds too were overflowing with all kinds of lists, surveys and compilations. Kaun in tha kaun out, kaun hot  aur kaun not, kahan kiya kami rahi aur aur kahan ziyadti, kiya oopar hua aur kiya neechey … matlab ki behno aur bhaiyo har tarha ki cheezain dekhne aur parhne ko mili hain hum so ko pichle kuch dinon/hafton mein….

I will not lie … kyonke rasm-e duniya bhi thi mauqa bhi tha aur dastoor bhi tau I too had started a draft of a year in review kinda thing .. but then I paused and thought and thought some more ….

Dramon ke barey me tau baatein hum hamesha hi kartey hain aur Insha’Allah karte hi rahen ge but we seldom ever talk – as in talk talk. Is liye, main ne socha why not take this opportunity for some heart to heart types dil ki baatein. Kuch nayi kuch purani, kuch main kahoon kuch aap sunaiyen. After all ranting and raving is what we desis do best, nahin? 

Warning: Chai ka cup le aaiye kaafi lambi story hai – bhai saaf baat hai ab jab dramey 30 episode ke ho saktey hain tau mujh ghareeb ki story ko bhi kuch tau margin milna chahiye na…

So …. let’s rewind back to the begining, not of 2017 but to way back,  to 2012, when Desi Rants ‘N Raves (DRNRcame into existence.

Woh ek kali siyaah raat thi, bijli karak rahi thi, tez hawa chal rahi thi, baarish aaya hi chahti thi, mano toofaan ka sa sama tha …

Sounds horribly OTT and terribly melodramatic and an entirely appropriate beginning for a desi drama blog, magar afsos aisa koi scene nahin tha. Nope, no such sound and light show took place.

Unlike the savvy bloggers I have since had the pleasure of interacting with and learning from, my foray into the world of blogging was purely by chance. There was zip zero planning or forethought that went into the how-to’s and how not-to’s of the whole thing. In fact had I thought of all that then or known what I know now I would’ve happily given up before I’d even started. Us waqt naam sochna hi sab se bara challenge tha…

Earlier, I had started reviewing on a friend’s urging, and DRNR when initially started, was never intended to last beyond the finale review of Shehr-e Zaat. That the first review  I ever wrote and posted on this blog generated even a single response was a complete shock/surprise and blew me away.

Since then we have grown and how!

5+ years and 21k+ comments later I am truly humbled by all of you – each and every one of you – all of whom take the time out of your busy lives to not only read, but actually pause to reflect and engage critically with what is being said. Not just by me by everybody else as well. Many are surprised when I remember names or older comments by not so active readers, but this should not be a surprise at all. I truly mean it when I say this is is a huge deal to me – I do not take your participation lightly or for granted.

So … Thank you – all of you. Ji aap jo mujhe shuru se parh rahi hain, aap jo ab mujh kum kum parhtey hain kyon ke main wohi same purani “negative” baatein karti hoon, aap jo mujh se chirti hain magar phir bhi parhti hain,  aap jo mujh ko kos rahi hain kyonke itna lamba parhtey huey aap ki chai thandi ho gayi, aur aap jin se hamari nayi nayi dosti hui hai, aur woh sab log jo yeh soch rahe hain ke yaad-e maazi azab hai yarab bibi review kab likhna shuru karo gi ….matlab ke aap sab ke pyar ka, comments ka, daanton ka, emails ka, messages ka, block karne ka, ignore karne ka ... 

Ok, so the senti part done and dusted, it was genuine, heartfelt and needed to be said, here’s a related matter I wanted to bring to your attention – why a platform like DRNR is important and why your support matters so much.

That Pakistani dramas are no longer a product being produced and consumed by Pakistanis back in the Land of the Pure is not some new knowledge I’m imparting, we all know this. I had myself talked about this way back in 2014. But the fact that almost all of our drama discussions this past year inevitably ended up bringing in the dreaded “T” word – ji ji wohi hamare purane dost TRPs – means that our drama industrialists are still stuck where they were back then – with their heads firmly planted in the sand. The race to gain the highest TRPs continued unabated in 2017, and doesn’t show signs of slowing down much in 2018 either.  

What I am saying may come as surprise and fly in the face of those who believe in the happy tidings of things changing in the drama world. But, really, are they really?

Apart from the exceptions and outliers, which exist every single year, the overwhelming majority of dramas are still happily churning out variations of the same old. And why should they change?

Channels and production houses are not non-profits and let’s not forget entertainment is big business, and I mean BOHOT HI BARI. As long as consumers/viewers are happily lapping up the regressive story lines, crying along with the majboor aurat ki majbooriyan and sighing over the hot ‘n happening couples of the season, why should the big business care about the causal link between irresponsible imagery and social impact. Any one remember the recent massive mainstream hit Yakeen Ka Safar?

I have written about my issues with that serial extensively so will not rehash them but the fact that apart from commentators here, nobody else seemed to have a problem, goes a long way towards proving my point  – a truly independent platform like DRNR needs to exist, where an alternative opinion can be voiced; as an alternative to what the drama industrialists tell us that the TV viewing public wants. Sure, many may do – but NOT all.

As a historian I study societies and cultures and I do this not merely by sitting in dusty archives, but by actively engaging with “texts” produced by the societies in question. These include, but are not limited to, literature, paintings, films, dance, theater, music, street art, and TV. Ergo, TV dramas are no longer mindless fluff but are now serving as intellectual windows into the inner workings of Pakistani society.

And it is this analytic lens that I bring to my reading and criticism of Pakistani Dramas. If my critique is casually dismissed as having an agenda – to not promote a positive image of Pakistan and/or Pakistani Dramas to the world –  or DRNR airily declared a sell out – either because pandering to favourites or biased against X star or Y writer or D channel. – then nothing is further than the truth. The fact that 21+k other commentators thought what I said worthwhile enough to engage with, means that my writing may have some value – ziyada nahin, like zara sa tau sahi.

DRNR may have started off as a lark, but it stopped being that a long time ago. Now we are a bonafide forum where issues are real, debate as genuine as it is passionate; we get hot and heated but never personal or gossipy, or seek to create controversy. This is not a place where we court mindless agreement, but we do expect to be heard with open minds and afforded the benefit of the doubt. Over time we have evolved as a safe space to express ideas and opinions, particularly for women.

With time, the context within which DRNR had initially started has changed radically. There are review sites galore and reviewers aplenty, and it is fabulous to have such diversity of fora and voices. I was recently asked about DRNR and its place in this rapidly changing  world of Pakistani Drama Reviews and it got me thinking.

With this being the only personal blog in the midst of the professional review sites, mainstream news platforms, PR houses, and channel run blogs, DRNR will by definition always be a small fish in a very big pond. But that is how and where change begins. Change does not initiate from the mainstream, it always starts off from the margins.

That despite standing and speaking from the margins we have not just survived but thrived is very encouraging. We are today a place for reviews of and conversations abou not just the flavor-of-the-month dramas but also the off-beat/indie/artsy projects, the kind that are edgy, don’t have huge publicity budgets, air on the “wrong channels”, or simply just don’t match up to mainstream sensibilities.

With your continued support, I am hopeful that changes will happen, not the band-aid kind, the drips and drabs we are seeing now, but the real systemic kind. Hum dekhen ge, lazim hai ke hum dekhen ge ….

What’s New in 2018 on Desi Rants ‘N Raves
Drama reviews will continue to be the front and center of our conversations on DRNR. As noted above, the fact that this is a personal blog, means that professional and personal commitments – life in short – do come in the way, but I am continually working on finding creative ways to keep the conversations going. Earlier we had Alphabet Soup, a hugely succesful series of posts, where we looked at dramas thora alag se, then recently we had D’Buzz, another reader favorite.

Naye saal ke saath nayi series tau banti hai, so it’s my great pleasure to announce Desi Reads. For many years several of you have been asking for a book club/reading group and despite my best intentions it just never quite gelled – till  now. Stay tuned!

I shall announce the specifics shortly and as always we will work together on ironing out the kinks as we go along. Needless to say I am super excited and looking forward to discussing classics of Urdu literature. Meanwhile, please help spread the word. Would be fab to have new friends, who don’t necessarily have to be drama watchers. Do invite others to join in our reading adventures. 

Other than this confirmed series, there are a couple other ideas simmering on the back burner. Un ke liye thor aur intezar – shukriya! So bilkul, I am excited and looking forward to a hot ‘n happening 2018. And yes, yes, reviews will be back. Pakka wala w’ada!

Tau Janab! Kaisi lagi meri itni lambi baat! Warn kiya tha na – draggged hai 30 episode types!

Ab bhai jo bhi hai main ne tau apni keh daali. Ab aap sunayen … what did you make of my ramblings? I know I was even more incoherent than usual – sorry! Been away too long! Acha, yeh bataaein what about the reading club announcement? Any suggestions for a possible new series? Kuch out of the box qisam ka idea? Any new dramas you would like me to review, and please not those that are already 500 episodes in! Aur haan meri itni lambi chutti par daant lagane pe koi rok tok nahin hai … aap ki mujrim hazir hai judge sahib!

Bas ab jaldi se aa jayen, waiting to hearing from you all… been too long!

Chalte chalte, thora late tau ho gaya hai but achi baat ke liye waqt ki koi qaid nahi honi chahiye, so … sending you and your loved ones lots of good wishes for a safe, happy and healthy 2018.


Written by SZ~

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31 replies

  1. Hey SZ , I’m so glad that you are back , I was really missing your reviews and was wondering whether you had retired 😯
    Good to see you in the swing of things and looking forward to whatever you have to offer , book reads etc.Yes thora hut ke bhi kuch hona chahiye besides reviews…
    But you are my drama guru and please never stop writing , I cannot bear reading other drama review sites , they are so bakwaas coz DRNR is #1😊

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    • Thank you ❤
      Retirement ke baarey mein socha tha aur hai – kaafi seriously! I feel I have said so much in the past five years ke ab everything seems like a been there done that kind of scenario. That said, there is always that tantalizing bit of whiff change that seem just around the corner that keeps one engaged and interested and so despite my trepidation I continue to stick around. And of course you all yaar … i honestly do this more for what we talk about than what we see … we always have more interesting things to say!

      So glad you're on board with the book club … I will provide all the links and stuff and in accessible languages so that even those who are not as conversant or comfortable with Urdu will be able to participate fully. PLease do spread the word. We should get going shortly with a lovely short story. Baqi, if you have other ideas abt other drama related things do let me know!

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  2. “Drama Industrialists”… yahan se shouro kerte hain. Ab ap se mulaqat he itne dinoun baad houwi hai. Wese tou mujhe mujh ziada ata jata nahi hai, books,music, arts, culture or even conversation, tou agar kuch ghalat keh jaon tou abhi se mazrat. Muaaf kia jinhoun ne you inayat. Magar baat ye hai ke ek ursa guzar gaya Desi ki rants aur kuch raves suntay houwe ke ab aadat si ho gaie hai. Apke bohat ko bhi thora jana, chai kyun ke cup mein nahi mug mein bana rakhi thi iss kiye thandi nahi houwi. Raha sawal favouritism ka tou bhuyi A ho ya B, Z tek sab behtreen laikhak hain, adaakaar aur hidayatkaar hain, aur apni apni jagah sab bakamaal… Tou ap samait, unn tamam ko, so 21k+ comments kerne waloun ko aj ki tareekh mein he sahi, anay walay pal mubarak houn.

    Readings zarur kijiye, kia pata ghar baithoun ko bhi iss se afaqa ho, kuch tasshaffi ho.

    Ji haan, hai tou BIG BUSINESS, rabbi tou Industry ka rutba mila. Aur hur industry ki tarah yahan bhi ‘business’ samajhne walay industrialist kaie hain, jo apna kaam bakhoobi jantay hain… Yani ke wohi T word ki oonchi barrhti seerhi, qadam ba qadam aur ooncha kerne ke azm ke sath.

    Issi tarah ap apni rantings aur ravings ko jaari rekhye. Societal analytics aur arts, history, literature ko barrhawa dijiye… hum na sahi hum se behter hazaaroun hain sath dene ke liye. Magar ye na samjhye ga ke khamosh hain tou dor ho gaie… aakhir ko “Barrwaan Khiladi” bhi bawaqt e zarurat kaam aa he jata, bus uss ko ye khal khelna ata ho.

    Jatay jatay ek sawal… Chai ki piyali tayyar kerke ye lamba chourra comment parrha? Chai thandi na ho gaie ho 🙂 Likhti rehye, Naya pun lati rehye…. Good Night and Good luck

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  3. Hiya… sorry not a tv serials fan tou review blogs i skip reading generally (yeah you can say after effects of the dumb stories going on-air now a days) … but it was an enjoyable read… and yes i love books aur Urdu to meri jaan hai so definetely will follow Desi Reads ☺

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    • @Qudsiya: Welcome! I totally get you about being turned off from Pk dramas ..I run the blog and even I blow hot and cold from time to time!
      But yay!! Super glad to hear that you are as on board with us on the Desi Reads train. I am super excited about this and hope that I can do my best to get people re-introduced to the beauty and joy of the language and literature… thora creatively karna parega, kyonke not every body can read Urdu or fluently, but we’ll give it our best shot, I am looking to you as a partner in this effort 🙂

      If you havent already, please do subscribe to the blog for new post updates and notifs… Ill do the same with yours .. lets stay connected!

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  4. Hello SZ! I have been rooted to your blog since 2012! Your reviews are so engaging that they seem very relatable. I remember occasionally commenting here and enjoying the raving and ranting like everyone else!! Lots of well wishes for 2018 from my side, hope you continue this awesome blog 🙂 🙂

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    • @S.A. Hey Hey! Happy 2018! Lovely as always to hear from you – thank you for your support through the years – means a lot! Here’s to looking forward to continued conversations and many more rants and raves 🙂
      And haan, do join in for the desi reads and feel free to share reading recommendations if you have any 🙂

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  5. Happy new year, all! Really looking forward to Desi Reads!

    The turning of the year is usually a time to take stock, but I think it can also be a time to appreciate the things that make our lives just a bit better. I, for one, really appreciate DRNR and you, SZ, not only for the reviews and the in-depth analysis and independent commentary, but also for being the sort of place where someone like me—who knows nothing about anything—is not only welcome but also encouraged to share their (sometimes nonsensical) opinions.

    So thank you for being you, SZ, and for keeping the show going here at DRNR.

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    • @RK: And we really appreciate having you be a part of our DRNr family – where nobody claims to know it all, but are willing to learn from each other. laugh together over silly jokes that only we get and get angry over things that at times only seem to bother us as a gp… yeah you fit right in …

      Super excited to see Desi Reads generating so much interest! Ok, so will not procrastinate and get going on this right away and will get the first post going in a day or so .. bas get your reading topi on … and like I;m saying to every one .. feel free to share your reading reccs … be creative in your reccs .. not just textual links but even audio loinks will do .. just dm me the recs ..and we’ll take it from there … hashtag excited hashtag lookingforward

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        • Let’s stick to Urdu recs for now? I was thinking more like the audio stuff you’d been listening to, or other stuff you’d been listening to, or watching vids of classic lit remakes … Idk possibilities are endless .. but just dm the names, not here. thanks!

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  6. Your each and every post is always worth reading and so was this one.. a much awaited and not at all dragged .. this space has always given me a much needed escape from life’s same old routine.. so thanks to you for creating this 5 years back and writing so brilliantly that not only your reviews but comments here are such treat to read..

    Totally love the concept of desi reads.. i love reading but unfortunately n wonder why never got my hands into Urdu literature.. and thus i am really excited to read and join discussions by you genius people 🙂

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  7. Happy new year to you as well! Honestly, I came here multiple times par no sign dooor tak! When I wanted to discuss about Baghi so badly and knew I could do it with you. Or when some other drama came about and I wanted to hear your opinion on it too. I genuinely like your criticism, rants n raves, and missed reading ’em.
    Anyhow, glad you’re back!

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    • Sorry!!! Kaan pakring and uthak baithak karing, even though not doing it elegantly and quite as fluently 😦
      So, sachi baat yeh hai ke I am teaching and end nov and thru dec it got crazy busy with exams and grading and then I got sick and christmas new year – basically I lost track of all dramas so that was that … ab getting back in the flow of things so bear with me … Im almost caught with stuff – almost .. Baghi I have a lot to say and not good thing 😦 but baat karenge – I promise.. OR I will post on Fri, are you watching that? What else are you watching? I just posted Sila.. Manto on my list to post after they post 11th ep … rest, PB on my list this Sat .. baqi not much else that is catching my fancy, you let me know if there is anything in particular you would like to rant and rave about?

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      • Haha okayyy maaf kiya, you may sit now. xD And ooh okay, must’ve become tiring and kinda overwhelming too. I hope everything’s back on the awesome track now – from teaching to your health to others.
        Baaghi same. I am…disappointed. That is, to say the least.
        Also wondering what you think about present Rangreza?

        Not so much into the newer lot. Just completing some of the ongoing ones. Wo bhi kabhi kabhi speed-up kar ke. :3 lekin I like Aangan! It’s light and fun.

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        • @randomlyabstract: phew! shukar uthne ki ijaazat de di! yaar ghutnas not doing as good – jawab daying totally!

          Okay … so .. I had these big plans — conquering the world of dramas in the last coule of days types – but as you can see kuch nahin hua .. so sorry!!! Bas ab what to say .. OR ka draft aadha likha hua hai .. I have some interesting ideas I would like to put out and share with you guys but migraines are not cooperating :/

          Aangan. I was kinda caught up .. have an opinion but now am almost afraid to say ke bas is hafte likh daloon gi kiyonke ab to bolte huey bhi sharam aati hai ….

          And on a tangential note for all …

          I woke up today with a severe headache and was complaining and hai bechari-ing when I all of a sudden realized that we have been blessed so much in life with all that we take for granted on a daily basis .. waking up pain free for instance …. and when just one thing goes away we make such a fuss abt it … I know there are a lot of masla masails in life and zindagi bohot complicated hai aajkal but kitna acha ho if we all made it a point to be thankful for just one small thing first thing in the morning – start the day off on a positive note …#BasItniSiBaat

          Yeah, not trying to be a holier than thou person or some such but the going ons of the past week or so have put me in a very reflective mood .. so just bear with me … shukriya 🙂

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  8. Happy New Year and tons of love for you SZ and all the friends on DRNR! May your voices grow in numbers to bring about that change we are so desperately longing for.
    Good news on our actors front is that we have finally managed to form and register a professional actors body – ACT (Actor’s Collective Trust) which we hope will play an effective role in bringing about a positive change in the industry. Amongst the founding members and Board of Trustees, we have Mr. Naeem Tahir (Chairperson) Omair Rana (General Secretary) Hina Khwaja Bayat / your’s truly (Treasurer) Leyla Zuberi, Faisal Rehman and Arjumand Rahim. It’s been a herculean task and we have a difficult journey ahead – TRPs, channels, producers, and also unethical actors to deal with. But we are hopeful and won’t give up easily. Better working conditions, standardized contracts, proper code of conduct, health insurance for actors, better content, responsible content……so much on our agenda and wish list! It’s interesting that you have come up with Desi Reads because what we also want to push is revisiting our literature to bring it to television. Barring a few not much has been done in this regard especially on the private drama channels. So please keep us in your prayers so that we can continue to entertain you with content that will inspire SZ to write and us, to have those wonderful discourses that I do miss so much…….. Have a blessed year! 😘💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • @HKB: Admittedly an incongruous time to say this, considering where we stand today as a people and a country, but nonetheless truly heartfelt prayers and greetings for a happy healthy and safe 2018 for you and yours ❤
      You my friend, with your grace and intellect, wit and warmth, honest but never mean spirited, you are a veritable embodiment of what DRNR stands for – and for all that we are truly honored to have you as our own. You are one of those increasingly rare people in the media who continue to hold out the hope ..that change may just happen.

      And on change, yay!!! thank you! Naye saal ki pehli acchi khabar sunaney ke liye! So happy to hear of such a imp first step in the right direction and what an august illustrious body of founding members – may you guys be forebears of much needed change in an industry that desperately needs ir. You guys do have a full agenda but IA one step at a time. Not much I can do on my end, but if and when I can help out in any way shap or form, please do not hesitate to call on me – keeri hoon gar che main zara si …

      Re: Desi Reads: Yes! I/We are terribly excited and it took me time but I finally decided that ke merely pontificating about tabdeeli was not enough, I had to actually do something about it, even on my own micro level. Hence this baby step.Hopefully, fingers and toes crossed …. dekhte hain …

      And yes… looking forward to many many more convos with you … we've missed you!

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    • @Raiya: Hello, welcome! Lovely to hear from you and appreciate your taking the time to read and comment – please do continue to join in our convos – we’re a talkative bunch and love hearing from new friends 🙂

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  9. Happy New Year SZ . So glad your are back. Missed you. Your review and comments are also treat to read . You are the best ( not buttering you) honestly I enjoy your writing . Looking forward to read books .
    Wishing my DRNR friends Happy and Healthy New Year !!!!!!
    Thank you so much SZ.

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    • @Ranjan: Happy happy to you and your family too! Hope you’ve been well my friend! You are always very kind and generous with your words and such a morale booster – thank you always for being so positive!

      Yes, please do join in the reading club… Im trying to take an innovative approach to the reading club so that even those who cannot read Urdu can join in so hopefully it will be equally enjoyable for all … .do share your detailed feedback so that we can fine tune the details as we go along!

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  10. It’s been a tough week, but your announcement of the new Desi Reads series has me squealing in delight – the best thing I have heard since the start of the year!! Super super excited to discuss literature with you and really want to know about your favourite writers 😉

    I am obsessed with your blog, it’s a blessing for people like me who have unpopular opinions about some very well loved drama serials – YKS and DeD. Absolutely loved the way you wrote about YKS, its problematic and potentially damaging plot points and messages.You write with eloquence, sensitivity and a lot of care, matlab parhne kay baad maza ajata hai. Thank you, SZ!

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    • @MM: Tough Week – an understatement indeed!

      Glad to have been of some help and been a source of somewhat happy news … IA will be able to live up to your expectations.. hashtag feeling nervous

      True confession time … I am not a very literate person and do not confess to having a high brow taste .. but have picked up some stuff here and there as I have journeyed through life and am happy to share with you but more importantly am looking forward to learning from you as well – so yes, very much an interactive process. Nobody an expert just a bunch of us sharing our insights and experiences and thoughts about what we read.

      One of the very important things I have learnt, in my classrooms as a student and a teacher is that it is just as much about the writing and the writer as it is about the reader and their takeaway from the reading – and this to me is the mark of classic literature – its ability to speak across time and space ….

      Am I making any sense? Anybody?

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      • Absolutely…. for starters look at Manto, Ismat Chughtaie, Qurat ul Ain Haider, Tagore…. the times and the context. Their lives and the societal struggles… becomes a lot more relatable I think. I’m new at this literary stuff, introduced to these legends not that long ago, both had some good teachers to guide me down this path 🙂

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