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Pakistani comedian and TV personality Omer Sharif dies at 66

Veteran Pakistani comedian and television personality Omer Sharif died in Germany on Saturday. He was 66 years old. The actor suffered from several ailments and was admitted to a hospital in Germany when his health deteriorated as he was taken to the United States for treatment.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Germany Dr Mohammad Faisal announced Sharif’s death. He wrote on Twitter: “With deep sadness it is announced that Mr. Umer Sharif has passed away. In Germany. Our deepest condolences to his family and friends. Our CG is present at the hospital to help the family in any way.

Sharif’s wife Zareen previously shared that the comedian was in a wheelchair and needed to be taken to the United States. She used to share updates about the comedian’s health on her Facebook account.

Omer Sharif gained worldwide fame with his TV program Bakra Qiston Pe.

Born in 1955 in Karachi, Omer began his career at the age of 14 in stand up comedy. He rose to prominence in Pakistan in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s and worked as a director, producer, actor and TV personality.

He received the National Award for Best Director and “Best Actor” in 1992 for the hit movie Mr 420. He was also the host of the very popular Geo TV show called The Shareef Show.

express at tiff 2021
Ahed’s Knee and The Devil’s Drivers Seek Hope: Express at TIFF

In December 2017, Palestinian activist Ahed Tamini, 17, slapped an Israeli soldier in the face. The incident went viral and prompted an Israeli official to say that she should have been shot in the knee. In ‘Ahed’s Knee’, Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid not only hints at the reverberations that spread internationally after the incident, but adds his own protest against what he sees as the growth of totalitarianism in his country.

The protagonist of the film is simply called Y (Avshalom Pollak). There is also a filmmaker who clearly replaces the director himself. Lapid’s previous film, ‘Synonyms’ played at the Berlinale in 2019; we are told that Y is also coming out of a successful screening at the Berlinale. Finding himself in a small village near the Arava region of the Dead Sea, Y is confronted with memories of his hard military service, as well as a realization that the present is no better: as creative person, he can only talk about matters which are sanctioned by the state.

Her host, the magnificent Yahalom (Nur Fibak), is a big fan of Y’s works. As an assistant to the Ministry of Culture, she is the messenger, but she is aware that the message is not something that Y wants to sign. A sheet of paper indicates the “approved themes” that Y can address after the screening of his film, and this gives rise to a long speech.

“Suppose I want to discuss an abject nationalist, racist and sadistic Jewish state whose sole purpose is to reduce the soul, especially the Arab soul, to incompetence and helplessness, so that it can collapse against state oppression and be completely at its mercy? ‘It sounds like a rant. And I guess it is, but it sounds like a real cry from the soul of an artist struggling to make his voice heard in the void.

Lapid is rightly celebrated as one of the most formally exciting and propulsive filmmakers working today. ‘Ahed’s Knee’ is packed with the most vibrant but unusual footage, and close-ups of body parts, including, yes, many knees. And while the way it ends, turning into a sort of explanatory drama reminiscent of Hindi films, may not match the previous irregular exuberance, there is no doubt about the film’s power. And if you live in India today, the movie looks stunning, very relevant.

The Devil’s Drivers is one of the bravest documentaries shown at TIFF 2021.

“To the left is Israel, to the right is Palestine,” says a character from “The Devil’s Drivers,” one of the bravest documentaries screened at TIFF 2021. Through the eyes of a bunch of intrepid Palestinians who push people to Israel every day in search of work, we experience the precariousness of the lives of these men out of nowhere, struggling for their livelihood, their identity and a place of their own.

Directors Mohammed Abugeth and Daniel Carsenty spent eight years making this film. And it shows. In the way they make themselves almost invisible in the backseat of a vehicle driving through the desert, carrying a smuggled human cargo, hoping the dust in their wake will make them difficult for Israeli soldiers to follow. In the way they listen, when their subjects speak.

“Driving unlicensed workers between the West Bank and Israel is very difficult work. Every morning, when I say goodbye to my children, I don’t know if I’ll be back, ”says one of the drivers. Another said, “The police can come anytime. Then I run. What else can I do? ‘ Some drivers are arrested and sent to jail; one of them said: “I’ve been doing this for thirteen years, now it’s over for me”. But where do they go back? What future will they be able to build for their children?

One of the most moving moments in “The Devil’s Drivers” comes when a character talks about a tree that people used to take shelter under before being shot by soldiers. The impact that protracted conflicts can have on people is terrible. How long does it take for a shady tree to grow in the desert?