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Lyari Notes, partnership across borders

December 27, 2014 11:16 pm | Updated December 28, 2014 08:45 am IST - CHENNAI

A poster of Lyari Notes.

A poster of Lyari Notes.

On December 19, little girls of Lyari, a volatile suburb of Lahore, lit little candles and bent their heads in prayer for the schoolchildren killed by terrorists in the Peshawar attack. In the lives of those children is a story that warms the cockles of your heart, not only in the simple sincerity of that gesture but also in the courage they and their families have summoned to take charge of their future.

Lyari Notes is also the story of Hamza Jafri, a rock star from Pakistan, who, fully cognisant of the power of music for transformation, decided to make sure these children too have a chance at it. In what are clearly difficult times for a partnership between the two countries, two women, one each on either side of the border, were moved so much by the story that they decided to make it, anyway, hassles notwithstanding.

Miriam Chandy Menacherry, the Mumbai-based filmmaker who made the award-winning Rat Race , and Maheen Zia, a filmmaker and editor from Pakistan, were sure it was worth their time and immense effort. It was Miriam who had the idea, initially. “I was listening to a lot of music coming from Pakistan, which has a sub culture of sharing music videos online. When I discovered that there was a lot of interest in this in India, that’s when all this began,” she says.

And Maheen, who has worked with her earlier, adds: “She wrote to me about this project, and we looked at exploring it. I met Hamza, and found his MAD school for music and the Lyari angle. Over the shoots, it evolved into this.”

The idea generated a lot of interest at the Amsterdam film festival, and this enthused the directors to go ahead with Lyari Notes . Oh, well, if you listen to Miriam, they were going to make the film anyway!

“It was more like the school was an entry point to explore the music. Within the school there was a programme, where girls come from Lyari and learn music. It soon became much more than just an unusual set of characters learning music. It became dramatic,” Maheen adds.

Clearly, it is nothing like any of them have done before. “I spent a lot of time negotiating with them to shoot; the lines between the professional and personal blurred,” says Maheen. “It is both our babies, in some sense, and arriving at a space that works for both of us was enriching. It certainly tests you at a personal level, both of us being creative, opinionated people,” Miriam adds, stressing on ‘opinionated.’

They decided to crowd source for the film ( >http://www.cinecrowd.nl/lyari-notes ) and the going was pretty good, considering they’ve met 87 per cent of their target, with 18 days to go. “It was astounding when we even crossed the halfway mark,” laughs Miriam, but obviously this is a story that many want to listen to.

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