The Samosa in the media

The Samosa has had lots of press coverage of our work across the arts, journalism and education in the UK, and the work we do with civil society, equality, education and human rights organisations in South Asia. Below are some links to media coverage of our work and feedback from our friends and supporters.

With 1.2 million British citizens with Pakistani heritage, with the longstanding connections of the Commonwealth, and with the links this community has with the wider Muslim world, especially in South Asia, the opportunity to help to build educational and cultural links, and to promote peaceful exchange, is enormous.… A large part of The Samosa’s future work will be focused on using film and the arts to embed peace building, interfaith work, and community cohesion into the educational curriculum across the UK. I believe this is exactly the kind of work that is needed in these troubled times, when sectarian voices of segregation and intolerance seek to sow discord and conflict in our communities. I have great respect for Anwar, for those involved in the work of The Samosa, and for the achievements they have already secured. – Rt Hon Lord Smith of Finsbury, 17th July 2015

Having built a good and growing reputation within South Asian communities in the UK, The Samosa is developing networks which have the potential to give it an important voice in shaping and reframing perceptions of the Pakistani community in the UK. This group is often discussed in British media and politics but without any range of British Pakistani voices being heard. That problem has long been recognised but there has been a lack of leadership or infrastructure with confidence, capacity and contacts to have significant impact on mainstream public discussion beyond niche spaces. – Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, 28th March 2012

The Samosa’s work has real impact across arts, media, education and community cohesion. There are about 1.2 million British citizens with Pakistani heritage; a community that I am a part of. I have been particularly impressed with the work The Samosa has done to build educational and cultural links within this community as part of our Commonwealth shared history. The educational value of the films in RSA Pakistan Calling has been widely recognised. The work done to date in colleges and with community organisations in towns such as Bradford and Luton has potential to scale up. – Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, 21st July 2015

Anwar Akhtar: The Meaning of Pakistan – Radio 4 Anwar Akhtar, director of The Samosa, argues that Pakistan should think of itself as an Asian nation, not as an Arab one. After years of working between Britain and Pakistan, British Pakistanis are uniquely placed to help Pakistan embrace its multicultural history – and to create a prosperous and peaceful future with India. BBC Four Thought is a series of talks which combine thought provoking ideas and engaging storytelling. Recorded live in front of an audience, speakers air their latest thinking on the trends, ideas, interests and passions that affect our culture and society.

Searching for the Muslim Vote – – If the snap general election was greeted with a groan by many, this was especially the case in Britain’s various Muslim communities.

Laal/Asian Dub Foundation review – an exuberant attack on intolerance – The Guardian – Alchemy festival, Royal Festival Hall, London. The Pakistani band Laal mixed upbeat melodies with political courage as they sang out against the Taliban, joined by an energised Asian Dub Foundation line up.  Highlights film  Concert picture essay

London and Pakistan link-up to break stereotypes  – BBC A new project is using films made in London and South Asia in an attempt to promote Pakistan as a land of opportunity rather than a failed state. Pakistan Calling is linking film students at London Metropolitan University with students in Lahore and Karachi. It will provide a web platform for short films documenting positive work going on in Pakistani society. It is a joint venture between the RSA and The Samosa, a London-based British Asian website.

Pakistan Calling: Still hope at the end of the line – New Statesman –DFID and British Council reports underline the existential crisis Pakistan is facing, but its people are rallying to save the nation. Salman Shaheen looks at Pakistan Calling.

Pakistan Calling – Crooked Timber – Instead of the tired old model of getting elites to talk books and ballet and hoping better relations ensue, Pakistan Calling takes a more targeted and effective approach to cultural exchange. This project is far meatier than your average cultural exchange.

Lessons from Pakistan on building and integrating education – Slugger O’Toole – Pakistan is a country of 180 million people, that’s 100 times the size of Northern Ireland. Unlike Ireland, north and south, its never had the infrastructure or the cultural inclination to prioritise mass education. Only half their kids actually go to school. But like Ireland, again north and south, there is a high reliance on religious schooling to deliver what education actually exists. As Anwar notes in the introduction to this video: if you walk down any street in Pakistan, you will probably find it easy to distinguish a madrassa student from an English medium school student. Religious and class differences in Muslim society have raised walls between some communities, eroding communication, tolerance and understanding.

Social Progress? – Dawn – Anwar Akhtar responds to the just published global social progress index findings on Pakistan – How do you measure social progress in Pakistan? A quick look at Pakistan’s many social ills — inequality, poverty, street children, gender inequality, law and order breakdown, violence against women, corruption, weak governance — tells you to spin around Clinton’s famous line. It’s not just the economy, stupid. It’s more than that.

The films in Pakistan Calling are manifestos for peace – Salzburg Global Seminar Calling compiles films with a social message. Some films tell the stories of individuals like ambulance drivers (Driving Life) and impoverished street children (I am Agha), while others explore larger ideas of multiculturalism, identity politics and sustainable development. Most films are produced externally by NGOs or university students, and Pakistan Calling gathers their work in one location.

If You Want to Understand Pakistan, Talk to its Bus and Ambulance Drivers – Huffington Post – The short film, showcased by the RSA Pakistan Calling project, sets out with the simple premise: if you want to understand a city, talk to its bus drivers.

Coverage of Dara

Dara portrays the 17th century Moghul royals and addresses many debates around freedom, history and religious practice that were and still are present in South Asia. As part of its work on the Pakistan Calling film project, The Samosa was able to bring Dara by the Lahore-based Ajoka Theatre Company to the National Theatre’s (NT) attention. The NT were inspired to produce and stage Dara, in partnership with Ajoka, in one of Britain’s most prestigious arts venues. The Samosa acted as a production consultant and broker between the NT and Ajoka Theatre Company. This partnership oversaw an intensive creative production process of Dara. Dara was seen by more than 30,000 people in London over 36 performances during spring 2015. The audiences included many young people from Britain’s Asian communities. Dara created much public debate on the issues of culture, history, religious tolerance and the history of South Asia.

Dara’s creative team included: Shahid Nadeem, writer at the Ajoka Theatre; Nadia Fall, director at the National Theatre; Tanya Ronder, writer and adapter at the National Theatre; and Anwar Akhtar, production consultant to the Ajoka Theatre Lahore and the National Theatre. It was the first time a work by a Pakistani theatre company has been adapted and staged by the National Theatre.  As a response to the hugely positive press and audience responses to the play, the National Theatre took steps to secure its legacy.  A high quality film was made of the full live performance of Dara, to secure the play for cultural, educational and arts festival screenings.

Media coverage of Dara:

Dara: the tale of two Islams hits the stage – Channel 4 – The epic tale of the 17th century prince Dara Shikoh and his brother Aurangzeb, whose dispute played a key role in shaping the history of modern-day India and Pakistan, makes its theatre debut.

Peter Tatchell – Daily Telegraph – ‘Every child in Britain should see the National’s latest play: Dara dramatises the historic struggle against Islamist extremism – it can reach people that political debate cannot.’

The Guardian –The story of Dara, the newest production to take to the boards at the National Theatre, begins thousands of miles away from London’s South Bank.

Time Out – Where do we find stories about Pakistan … that also affect us in Britain? That’s a question outgoing NT artistic director Nicholas Hytner asked, and this is the epic and often highly affecting response. A magnificently ambitious project … The best scene by far – and one it’s easy to imagine will be studied in schools – is when Dara is brought before the Sharia court in Delhi, and is forced to prove that he is a true Muslim.

Life in the Cheap Seats – I was excited about seeing a play about royal power politics played on an entirely different stage from The James Plays … what I didn’t expect was to go see a play that was absolutely in the blazing heart of everything politically aware people are arguing about today.

Why Dara still speaks to us today – Open Democracyby Anwar Akhtar