A few weeks ago I accidentally stumbled onto an Instagram account and I have not been able to stop thinking about it. Every busy street I walk on, every dhabba I pass by, every crumbling building are now big, bold and breathtaking settings for a future unlike the one I could’ve ever imagined.
Sci-Fi has always been the genre with the most stunning visual effects. A genre of societies to come, shiny gadgets and alien invasions, it showed us a future completely unlike our present but movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Men in Black made it feel like a possibility because they featured scenes shot in places bursting with life even today.
I was never much into ski-fi. Maybe because my imagination never let me go broad enough into a world of battleships and light-sabers. Maybe I just couldn’t see a future like that, it all felt too distant and too foreign. But Omar Gillani, an artist from Peshawar, managed to turn our very own home country into the extraordinary future we could see ourselves in and has proved that we need a sci-fi movie set in Pakistan. Take a look for yourself!
took a break from futury sci-fi things, and this is the result
Our vivid trucks, neon signs and narrow streets that snake through the city taking you to homes and monuments that tell tales of days past, the rich history of the subcontinent and the tokens it has left us surprisingly makes a remarkable setting for the future, our future. As well produced American sci-fi films are, they can never relate to us the way a movie shot in our alleys and animated by the hands of our countrymen could. And let me tell you, we need sci-fi movies. Not only are they a wonder to look at but they actually help us to explore human nature in a new setting and look at our society with fresh eyes. The future is used to examine issues we face today and the path that we’re on. Using dystopian and tyrannical states, sci-fi movies give us a snapshot of what could be if we don’t handle the problems we face today properly.
something i've been chipping away at during lunch breaks at work. just a guy bargaining with a rickshaw wala in the inner city
Science fiction also has the ability to help us accept change. By showing us a future where society functions differently, it allows us to envision a future that we want and how we can work towards it. Many things that were considered fictional in the early 90’s are now a reality that we live everyday. We can walk on the moon, chat about the weather with friends thousands of miles away and access all human knowledge from a device in our pant pockets. Science fiction not only helps us accept change but it also inspires change and can support our stubborn Pakistani nation in moving away from the past that we’re stuck in. When Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura, thought about leaving the Star Trek series, Martin Luther King Jr convinced her not to by saying that ‘her inclusion on Star Trek was important because, as a black woman, she helped represent a future people could aspire to, one where people were judged solely on the content of their character.‘ And when Nichols spoke out against NASA for only hiring white, male astronauts, she was invited to their headquarters and was asked to convince former female applicants to apply, leading to the recruitment of Sally Ride, who became NASA’s first female astronaut, and Guion Bluford, the first African American astronaut. That is the power that lies behind this genre.
Scientist Isaac Asimov, on the importance of science fiction, said: ‘It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be…Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not. Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today – but the core of science fiction, its essence…has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all’. More than anything right now, that is what our country needs. Not Ramadan transmissions, routine love stories or party boys on a vacation abroad. We need a movie with spectacular pieces of art like Omar Gilani’s, a world beyond the normal and change. We desperately need change.
did something after a long time
somewhere in punjab, sometime in the future
Science fiction can allow us to test the limits of what we believe and what we can perceive. Works like those of Omar Gilani’s, show that Pakistan has the potential to be one of the most intriguing futuristic societies and I, for one to would love to see a movie explore all we are and can be. How about you?