Harikat: The heritage of Peshawar’s present

Amani Mehr

In the quick- paced world that is home to the upcoming generation, they are fast latching onto trends and thoughts of the present- and, consequently, fast extricating themselves from their pasts.

I come from a proud Peshawari family that has upheld its culture through generations, with a reverence equal to religion. I have grown up listening to first my grandfather’s, then my father’s tales about Ghanta Ghar and the divine taste of chai in Raiti Bazaar. The tales end here, for I have never visited Raiti Bazaar, and in fact, struggle to speak a word of Hindko. A pity for my father, for my entire family, that I- the daughter of a man whose association with Peshawari culture goes beyond knowing all other families associated with it, beyond even identifying any ethnic food that is linked to our tastebuds- cannot even name three Peshawari families or dishes.

The problem is one that spans the whole city- of all Peshawari youth I know, a handful of people relate to their heritage, and even less carry regard for it. Out of this imminent threat of extinction has risen Harikat, a short film made by a group of dynamic individuals who offer their fresh perspective on the situation at hand.

Turkish for “movement”, the name Harikat is a direct link to what the message hopes to portray- the fact that the youth belongs to a world that is moving, and so they must too. But along with keeping up with the times, they have shown how they keep their culture intact.

Produced by Shayan Sethi, from the esteemed Peshawari Sethi family, most of the film’s scenes are shot in “sheher”, the true Peshawar city. Giving us detailed insights into the forgotten cobblestones and courtyards, the film revokes a renaissance of our roots. But this revival comes with a twist- because the ones bringing the revival are the new generation of Peshawar, who have blended history with hype in a combination that appeals to the masses of today.

Within the city and chai walay, we see various individuals pursuing activities and aspirations that are the emerging norms of tomorrow. Noor-ul-Huda Arif and Sundas Durrani portray visions through their vibrant demeanour and vivacious dancing, of the strong and soulful young women that relate to the spirit of Peshawari culture, breaking stereotypes and stigmas.

All those starring in the film don a new style of active wear called athleisure, that is the emerging rage in teenagers today. Sponsored by Movement Athleisure, the brand that is climbing to the top of Pakistan’s fashion industry, the film cast converge in a diverse array of clothing that acutely represents the diversity of Peshawari culture and the Peshawari children. Perhaps the most exquisite essence of Peshawari heritage and history is that these scenes are shot in the renowned Sethi Di Haveli, a location that holds renown in the hearts of all those acquainted with it.

Among these stars is Arhum Fasih, an aspiring footballer who is seen throughout the film pursing the unconventional passion at his feet on the traditional streets. Hailing from the popular Siddiqi family who also own the coveted Peshawar photoshoot location, Siddiqi Mansion, Arhum is an avid football player who has been recognised at a school and regional level for his talent, having topped tournaments, and is the epitome of the rising popularity of this sport in Pakistani culture. The film has used him as an example of a glimpse into the close relationship that society will hold with sport in the near future. He also holds an important position in Movement Athleisure, helping to bridge the gap between culture and change.

Shayan Sethi, along with his cast of novel talents, brought a wonderful work of a dying culture come to life, with new elements being added to that culture. We, the children of today and the change of tomorrow, insist that you tune in to watch Harikat, out now on YouTube and Instagram, under the platforms of Shayan Sethi, Movement Athleisure and Distrk91!