IQBAL HUSSAIN: PAINTER OF HEERA MANDI
Heera Mandi, meaning Jewel Market, is a neighbourhood in the ancient Mughal city of Lahore. The jewels of this market are girls, who, similar to the Geisha tradition, provide entertainment and escape for the men of Lahore. It was in fact founded by the Mughals themselves, for the pleasure of the high dignitaries. Today it is a brothel with the most ancient tradition in the world. As a consequence of the decline of traditional values, it has lost that cultural note which made this place unique not so long ago.
But the film about the jewel market is a story of one man. Iqbal Hussain is, at the same time, one of the most respected and most controversial Pakistani painters of today. His paintings portray all the sorrow and suffering of Lahore’s ladies of the night, a theme which is unacceptable to the self proclaimed protectors of morality. Iqbal has been attacked on the streets, his paintings have been burned, and galleries that have organized his exhibitions have been stoned. Hussain is, at the same time, the protector of all those for whom no one cares in Heera Mandi: abused girls, the old ladies, the sick and dissolute. Hussain fights for them, buys their cigarettes, pays for their health care, spending literally all the money earned from his paintings for the benefit of his community.
Music by: Samuel Sacher
Directed by: Daniel Ridicki
Associate Producers: Arieb Azhar
Suren De Silva