Feica vs Feica is a short documentary (27 min. 48 seconds) about Pakistan’s veteran political cartoonist, Feica. For the last 30 years, Feica has been taking on all shades of bigotry – political, religious and social – through his cartoons. For these ‘sins’, the Karachi-based artist has often found himself in trouble with state authorities and political parties. But even stints in jail haven’t curbed Feica’s outspokenness, his non-conformism. His critics call him stupid for openly criticizing Pakistan’s power centres; for flouting the ban on alcohol by taking his hipflask to public places. But while he courts the image of a troublemaker and an irresponsible alcoholic, Feica is also a notoriously disciplined cartoonist, a canny entrepreneur, a doting father and caring husband.
This film confronts Pakistan’s contemporary socio-political realities as reflected by the public and private faces of its best-known satirist. What do these two Feicas think of each other? Who is the real Feica and what does he think? Why is he hated as much as he is admired?
This short shows the best and the worst of Pakistan though the eyes of a liberal, progressive artist. Most importantly, this documentary speaks of what resistance looks like and its future in a country eviscerated by its contradictions, its bigots and zealots.
I grew up in Karachi at a time when art, culture and music were fading. Under Ziaul Haq, Pakistan’s omnipotent dictator, religion was used to purge society of its liberal and progressive elements. So effective was Zia’s revisionist account of history that the fabric of an entire nation was transformed. A secular, modern city such as Karachi that was once called the ‘Paris of the East’ became a loose grouping of shanties and towns driven by sectarian, ethnic and religious affiliations. And art, music and theatre were among the first casualties of this self-conscious false piety.
I’d long admired Feica as one of the few warriors who stood up against a dictator at the zenith of his power and continued fighting against the fanaticism sown by the tyrant and his cronies. When we finally met in 2009, it was perhaps inevitable that we’d hit it off and equally predictable that I’d want to memorialize his story.
But the idea for this film materialized in 2012, when I realised that the drunk Feica and the sober Feica are two distinct people. And while both have lived different lives, each has very strong ideas about the other’s journey. Hence, the idea of getting the two to confront each other, using the medium of film.
Feica’s message: “You can live without art but how wonderful a life with art” (that was the tipsy one).
So far, Feica Vs Feica has been officially selected for:
- 5th Mumbai Shorts International Film Festival (2016), in Mumbai, India. Screening: December 21, 2016. The film also got ‘Special Festival Mention’
- SHORT to the Point, Bucharest, Romania. The short has been screened on October 31, 2016.
- FreeNetWorld, Nis, Serbia. Screened between December 15-18, 2016
4. 5th Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival, Kathmandu, Nepal. Will be screened between March 17-19, 2017
Faisal Sayani is an independent filmmaker and freelance journalist who teaches television production and the history of cinema at public and private universities in Karachi. Between 2002 and 2015, he headed current affairs departments at Geo News, DawnNews and Express News. He has also produced several documentaries on various subjects, including the 2006 ‘Zinda Tau Rehna Hai’ (Life Goes On) about life in the northern areas of Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake. He’s also a passionate photographer.