Ghabrana Nahin Hai: London Met project featured on Platform Asia

A collaborative film made by Digital Media Associate Lecturer Joel Chernin and Fine Arts MFA alumna Shanzay Subzwari highlights the juxtaposing rhetorics of pandemic politics.

Date: 31 March 2021

The collaborative work of the London Met Digital Media Associate Lecturer Joel Chernin and London Met alumna Shanzay Subzwari (Fine Arts MFA) is being featured on the website of Platform Asia, an arts initiative which develops opportunities for Asian artists by presenting, discussing and creating works, while promoting Asian artists’ work to audiences. 

Ghabrana Nahin Hai is a five minute Cabinet of Curiosities: a film dancing between the depths of pandemic politics, to the floods of Karachi, interspliced with bizarre compendiums of imagery relaying the reality and surrealism of a cross-cultural journey between lockdowns in the cities of London and Karachi whilst all gently observed by a domestic cat.

Ghabrana Nahin Hai is underscored by a deeply political soundtrack that includes speeches by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. Johnson’s urgent "You must stay at home" is a sharp contrast to Imran Khan’s calm "Ghabrana nahin hai" ("No need to worry") with their juxtaposing rhetoric underlined as clear markers of culture.

"It was a pleasure to be invited by Shanzay to collaborate in making this film. We had previously worked together on shorter video pieces but this was the first time we collaborated on a commission," said Chernin.

The soundtrack includes "Hum Dekhenge", a protest song written by Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz in response to the country’s 1980s military regime. The track is arranged by Joel Chernin and sung by Shanzay Subzwari. It is a comment upon the politicisation of the pandemic and its implications upon the individual; in sung phrases such as "above the heads of those in authority…we will see" it can be seen as a call to action, noting that citizens themselves have a responsibility to question those in power, and their choice of advice.

A swirl of rose petals carries the viewer from the beginning of the film to its final encore, a Sufi motif signifying moving between worlds, referencing birth, death, and the continuously transforming conditions we find ourselves in today.

Ghabrana Nahin Hai by Shanzay Subzwari and Joel Chernin (2021) has been commissioned by Platform Asia for the Sudden Beams – Homing In programme, and is supported by Arts Council England.

rose petals falling over a stylised city landscape