Shahid Mirza has created a highly pleasant video experience on the life by the Canal in Lahore. The afternoon on Lahore Canal in the Summer of 2006, is a scene happening everywhere by the canals, ponds, rivers, pools, marshes and puddles in the rural and urban Punjab.
Though male-exclusive, the scene is alive and infectiously festive. The visual is deceptive in that in the first few moments, and barring all noises, it seems as if it is Punjabi countryside; but then, the road becomes visible, and there, we have a bustling city life of Lahore by the Canal on a Sunday afternoon.
In the scorching heat of Lahore, running water is a necessity that becomes a luxury to the less privileged citizens of Lahore and surrounding areas. As apparent by the notice board shown at the beginning of the video, even when the local authorities have prohibited bathing and washing in the Canal, people are happily using it to wash themselves, their clothes, linen, sheep, rickshaws, fruits, and anything else that needs washing and is portable. The youth is practicing long and high dives, dips and floats; BhangRas are happening; and, leg-pullings are on.
The people interviewed in the video show no confidence in the local authorities to spend any money for the development of the Lahore Canal area as a park for public to make it easy, safe and more accessible for the people. Lahoris simply disregard the ‘prohibtion notice’ because their need to have such a public space is too great in the summer.
The video is available for viewing on YouTube in Punjabi and English sub-titles. The English version has Malika Taranum Noor Jehan’s popular public-domain song ‘SanooN nehr walae pul te bula ke te khaurae mahi tkithay reh gya‘ (After agreeing to meet with us at the bridge of the Canal, i wonder where my Lover has been detained) as the background music, and it is amazing how well it goes with the whole action in the video.
Sunday Afternoon at Lahore Canal by Shahid Mirza: Punjabi
Sunday Afternoon at Lahore Canal by Shahid Mirza: English
Produced by Lahore Chitrkar, 2007