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Documentary on Himalayas screened at Alliance Francąise

KARACHI (AwesomePakistan): In the cold mountainous range of the Himalayas, lies the valley of Chitral. Alliance Francąise de Karachi dedicated an evening to ‘Himalaya’, a feature documentary by Michael Palin that features Prince Ata Malik, one of the scions of the famous Gheba family, and Prince of Chitral Sirajul Mulk. The documentary was screened at Alliance Francąise on Friday.

The film centres on BBC journalist Palin, who travels on the Khyber train and passes through 34 tunnels and 92 bridges to reach his destination. Palin terms the

tribal lifestyle ‘Pakistan’s Wild West’ and claims it is known for two things: hospitality and revenge.

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“People here carry guns like Englishmen carry umbrellas in their hands,” notes Palin in the film. He goes on to say that this is the same place where Alexander crossed through to enter the Indus valley and where Tamerlane tried invading India. The route is famous for connecting the East and West.

Palin first visits Malik, whose life is steeped in tradition – from growing a traditional moustache to making his servants serve him meals in a manner befitting royalty. Malik calls himself a rustic man and the last surviving scion of the family. “I am the last of the dinosaurs,” he said, showing Palin the bull-races.

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Later, visiting Siraj, Palin is told, “Chitral is the place where polo was first practiced, [after which] the Brits took it to England and the rest of the world.” The place is known for everything from ravines to valleys, said Siraj, asserting that you might consider it a good holiday destination.

After the documentary was screened, Malik and Siraj were left to answer questions from the audience.

“What Chitral really promotes is peace and harmony in a region that is cut off from the rest of Pakistan for more than six months during the winter season. The education level is high in Chitral as compared to the Pakistani national level of education,” said Siraj.

“People from Chitral who are employed in Karachi as domestic help are very different from other people because they are loyal and are the best cooks and drivers in town.” He added that the two hallmarks for people from the region are loyalty and honesty.

Earlier, Alliance Francąise de Karachi Director Jean-Francois Chenin said ‘Himalaya’ was a ‘beautifully crafted documentary on the north of Pakistan’.