Think of Lollywood. Which name immediately strikes in mind? Yes, she was a surprise guest in one of Karachi Literature Festivals’ sessions. The curiosity of the crowd faded away as the glamourous Meera was ‘stopped by security’.

Transaction or Transformation in Film or TV was a session packed like sardines, held on the last day of the 6th KLF.

Do movies help in building societies, keeping in mind the heavy social messages they carry along with the commercial values they aspire to achieve? Omayr Aziz Saiyid, the moderator of the discussion, started off the programme with this question on the table.

For Sanjay Iyer, the panelist from our eastern neighbor, ‘movies are an industrial mode of production.’

Saiyid introduced another panelist as ‘controversial yet popular,’ none other than ‘Begum Nawazish Ali’. While Ali Saleem was repeatedly called out to make it to the stage so that the session could commence, for he along with Meera couldn’t make it on time. Soon after Ali made his appearance, he was seen distracted with his phone. For him, ‘film is a powerful medium…larger than life with characters as agents of change.’

A writer on literature and cultural issues in major Indian newspapers, Iyer felt ‘the anxiety to create commercial hits is bringing about a lot of crap’ in his part of the movie world.

Meanwhile  Farooq Mengal, a local film maker from Quetta voiced that ‘making a film (here) is a jihad nowadays…you’ll face a lot of criticism from your family, relatives and friends.’

Mengal adulated Ali for he faced a lot of criticism and managed to get himself the desired spot-popularity accompanied with bags of critique.

Gia Ali, an actor and a model, donning a stunning saree along with a bold red lip colour, whilst struggling to communicate in the second most popular language of the country, seemed sated with how everything that happens in the movie industry to what one wears followed by the double standards of our society are but ‘a part of life.’

Ali reminisced about his early ‘Begum’ days-the show that bought him so much fame- and how initially his ‘interest was only to wear glamourous sarees’.

Change- be it in the movie business or in the local mindset, is bound to happen as Ali reiterated, ‘till when can change be resisted?’

Back in the days of Begum Nawazish Ali, he recalled how mothers fretted about their adolescent sons trying to follow Ali Saleem’s footsteps. It was then that the ‘Ali Saleem (notion) became a threat.’ Afterall, ‘I opted for that life.’

Despite missing out most of the session for which she was a ‘guest’, Meera being her total self, thought KLF to be a ‘local film festival.’ While she did not forget to publicize her upcoming psycho-thriller flick, Hotel, she articulated ‘humanity (to be) a bigger religion.’

Iyer described how with an era of Netflix and social media on the rise, transformation has changed. ‘Transformation has become personal’ but for Ali, ‘a Taliban is inside each one of us that is resisting change.’

Talking about how wrong it is to watch Indian movies with Bollywood starlets dressed up in skimpy attire, Ali and Gia conceded on how the public is totally against the apparel the stars clad in and the dance routines in Indian movies, but what about the mehendi dances? What tunes are those dances choreographed on? The same songs with identical dance moves are acceptable, but those movies aren’t?

Thinking double standards? Talk about a multiple faceted society with its multifarious standards-that’s the society evolving and growing amongst us- right if done by us, wrong if practiced by them.

It’s time we improve as a human being first to bring about an overall transformation in the society.