Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Self-Development through Film Arts

This post is for the benefit of those who want to apply the art of interpreting literature as a collective dream. The eight videos embedded here represent the journey of a character, Nasir (Waheed Murad) in search of his unseen ideal. Good luck!
Stage 1: Inquiry
Nasir (which means protector, helper or supporter and hence a literal equivalent of the Greek name Alexandros, or Alexander) is in search of an unseen ideal, and is taking into account all the factors and people in his surroundings (including the working class). He is certain that Time itself will carry him forward in his journey as long as the desire is there.
Stage 2: Discovery
The ideal has manifested itself in Najma (literally meaning a celestial body, or a little star), but the protagonist is yet to know if the longing is mutual (note the wording of the first stanza). 
Stage 3: Transcendence
The ideal reciprocates, and now the protagonist has found answer to the question asked in the previous stage (compare the opening lines of this song with the first stanza of the previous). 
Stage 4: Freedom
The lover and the beloved are now bonded in a relationship that has a life of its own
Stage 5: Action
Deceived into believing that his ideal has turned out to be less than what he thought, the protagonist carries on the journey nevertheless: returning to the night club of the first song, he isn't "looking" any more. Thus we see his grief but also his maturity, and we may notice that self-development has taken place. This is "action" because now he is interacting with his original environment in a very different manner from how he was at the beginning. The video begins with his turning his face away from the artificial lamps of the night club and ends with him walking out of darkness into a source of light that is larger than life.
Stage 6: Expansion
Misunderstood by the one who claimed to love her, Najma asks some questions about the rules of destiny and the travails of love.
Stage 7: Creation
Since accepting a false accusation against his ideal, the protagonist has ended up with a household where unwanted guests are partying behind his back (note the invitees listed in the two stanzas of the song). 
End of Stage 7: the Climax
The protagonist is now presuming that the ideal he pursued is no more (a false news about Najma's death has reached Nasir). He is at the end of his journey, contemplating suicide by falling off a cliff. His ideal saves him by returning, as if it were, from beyond this life. Note that last stanza establishes a union between the lover, the beloved and God (and the proverbial line used here, "God is the friend of those who have no friend" is actually a translation from the Persian poet Nezami Ganjavi). The video itself is full of allusions: note how the sequence from 0:40 to 0:47 alludes to the iconic tree in the movie Gone With the Wind, where the tree is the symbol of an entire society coming back to life after the devastation of a civil war. Such touches bring a meaning to this story beyond an ordinary tale about lovers, and at least some of the audience (like myself) are compelled to interpret it as an allegory about societies and nations.
Further Reading:


  1. Wow, this is an excellent presentation, a story with which we are so familiar is retold in a manner that deserves applaud and praise. And I simply loved the title SELF DEVELOPMENT THROUGH FILM ARTS, it effectively described the narrative and also paid tribute to that unique team which formed the production house “ FILM ARTS”.

  2. Interesting in light of the seven stages of Pakistan. The story ends on a positive note (where it could easily have ended in tragedy), which of course implies Murad's optimistic view of the future of his people and the nation. Thanks for the trivia note regarding the use of the tree.

  3. The songs were beautiful.I want to mention first,that I feel very proud to know that my impression about Waheed is so correct.He was a genius who saw things at a young age that no one else could have.I saw the movie multiple times but failed to see the relationship between it and Pakistan's history.I don't want to offend anyone,but can I say I saw the same genius in you when I first read your writing,My decision to take the courses was really the motivation I received from you.If we have people like you and Waheed,how can we ever have any problems.This is entirely my impression.
    As regards the seven stages of Pakistan,s history and Waheed's
    Armaan it is almost mind boggling to realize,how he showed the stages of Pakistan in the medium of his movie.
    Pakistan was the dream of a few great personalities who got together in Aligarh to achieve nationhood for the Indian Muslim community,which was achieved on December 31st,1906.
    Likewise in the movie the young character is dreaming about someone who happens to be in his dream but has no idea where he will find her.
    The Muslim League demanded and achieved separate electorate for the Muslim community in 1926 elections.
    Amazingly enough the young man discovers his ideal but is not sure if the feeling is mutual.He discovers she too feels the same.
    In the all parties conference in 1927 the Muslim leaders agree to give up separate electorates if provinces with Muslim majority were given autonomy which was achieved in 1945-46 elections when a majority voted for Pakistan.
    The lover and the beloved are now thinking of ways and means to be united.
    The next phase is freedom.The state was conceived as an open ended idea.The goal was to have the desire of its citizens to defend its territorial borders.It was also declared that war and peace should depend on the will of the people rather than the army,
    Here the people will be,the lover and the beloved and perhaps the army are the parents.In order to be united they need the permission of the parents.

    Action:1967-86-Here unlike other stages there are a number of
    larger than life figures,which seems to be unique as there
    were none before or since.
    Stage 5; in the movie,life takes an unusual turn,circumstances
    made Nasir think he has been deceived by his ideal.The promise to not go alone reverses and Nasir goes back to the same club,this time optimism turns into pessimism because of the sad events in his life.He wakes up into a source of light that
    is bright but fails to brighten his life.
    This was the stage of expansion:Society welcomes independent TV,Liberalism,Human Rights,Feminism,Foreign Language Teaching and the Awareness of Environment.A whole lot of knowledge was gained at the cost of the idealogy of the nation.
    In the movie however change happens but at the cost of the love of Nasir and Najma.
    The next stage is Creation:Here the lawyers movement was significant because it paved the way to a new kind of society based on human potential never known or tried before.

    In the movie there was creation,but an entirely different kind.Nasir finds himself in a different place far from the one he dreamed,where in his absence the members were having a party celebrating the birth of a child who does not belong to him.
    Climax:Nasir after hearing of Najma's death plans to commit suicide but was saved by God,he discovers his beloved is alive and I guess they lived happily forever.
    In the light of Pakistan's history I can see the seven stages of self development of the lover and the beloved,which are the same as Pakistan's history.

    In my conclusion I cannot help but admire the work of Waheed Murad and our own facilitator,Mr.Khurram Ali Shafique,Kudos to you sir.This is my honest and humble opinion.

    1. Thank you very much. Your analysis is an eye-opener by itself.

  4. A very interesting post, as Akhtar Wasim Dar has pointed out, an excellent perspective on a movie i would never have thought to see myself in this light.

  5. Awesome interpretation.Really got a totally new idea of seeing the things. Great work sir!!!!

  6. Awesome interpretation..... Really got totally new idea of seeing things. Great work sir!!!!

  7. It has always been an amazing experience when you describe the Seven Stages of Pakistan through film Armaan during SOIS sessions. And likewise here the presentation is comprehensive and precise with an excellent caption Self-Development through Film Arts

  8. Awesome Interpretation of "Armaan"!
    I have never perceive a movie from this angle.
    My interest in the course "WMS"is kindled..
    Thank-you Khurrum sb.