With a deep passion for promoting the rich cultural heritage of the region, Hayat braved many odds and successfully contributed to the cultural scene of Pakistan, while also highlighting human rights in general and women rights in particular. Given a great deal of interest in films and appreciating the large outreach of the medium, Nageen started off as a documentary maker in the early 90s, and since then has produced several documentaries on a wide array of subjects. Speaking about her latest venture on the ‘Walled City’ of Lahore, Hayat highlighted that this was a subject that she holds close to her heart. “Having being born and bred in this charismatic city, I have been rediscovering the inner city. Although the changes have been manifold, but the romance still lives on,” she remarked.
Lahore has always been the heart of culture in Pakistan. When compared to other cities, Lahore retains its distinct ambiance that dates back to the Mughal era. The city was originally enclosed by a boundary wall and that is where it derives the name ‘Walled City’ from. This particular area of Lahore shelters a wealth of heritage sites and points of interest for tourists. The government of Punjab, in cooperation with donor countries such as Germany, undertook a program to restore these heritage sites to their former glory. Hayat’s documentary focuses on references and stories of interest mainly associated with the ‘Shahi Guzargah’ (Royal Trail), as she brings to the fore the difficulties that the locals faced due to the deteriorating condition of their surroundings. The documentary successfully manages to highlight the change that the renovation brought to the residents and their daily lives, in terms of improved sewerage, and better water and gas supply.
The thirty-minute documentary manages to capture the beauty and essence of the walled city and its daily hustle and bustle. On her journey to highlighting the improved condition of the old city, Nageen also uncovered a plethora of hidden gems, including a museum that had been tucked away in the narrow alleys of the walled city.
Speaking to the audience after the screening, Hayat recalled her childhood spent in Lahore and felt that it was her responsibility to document the beauty of the city, and pay homage to it. Sharing her experience about the documentary, producer and director Nageen Hayat narrated that capturing the multitude of culture, beauty and art from this area and squeezing it into a thirty-minute, short documentary was a daunting task; however, it was a labor of love for her and she enjoyed every moment of it.
Besides Ms. Ana Lepel, German Ambassador to Pakistan, Mr. Kamran Lashari, Director General of the Walled City of Lahore Authority was also present at the screening. Sharing his views on the subject, Mr. Lashari commented that generally northern areas and its majestic mountains are highlighted for tourism purposes while the beautiful alleys, streets and monuments that are spread out in other areas of the country are ignored. “Nageen’s documentary tries to focus on such areas; unlike most other documentaries that showcase only nature,” he added.
Hayat’s documentary was well acknowledged by all those in attendance and appreciated her efforts for reviving the cultural scene in the country through her initiatives.
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