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11 Oct

“Pakistanis should be very proud of themselves” – Art Malik

Hollywood star famous for his work in True Lies, Jewel in the Crown and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Art Malik was in Pakistan for a very short but very significant trip. “I’m so impressed with what I’ve seen so far,” said Art when Something Haute caught up with him in at the Layton Rahmatulla Benevolent Trust (LRBT) office in Karachi.

What the British-Pakistani actor was referring to is the work that this charitable organization is involved in. LRBT is one of the largest NGOs in the world and it provides free eye treatment to the poor and underprivileged citizens of Pakistan. “I visited the hospital this morning and there were nearly a thousand people there. Anything like that would have been logistically impossible to handle at the NHS in England but the eye hospital in Korangi that I’ve visited handled everything so seamlessly. I’m so inspired,” shared Art.

This brought us to wonder how and when Art got affiliated with LRBT. “My involvement with LRBT was through my accountant, who is one of the trustees. He asked me if I would do what is normally required of actors, which is to MC an evening, try to raise funds. And once I started to talk about the charity, the eye hospital, my brother pointed out something. We used to ask our father in his later years, ‘now that you’re retired,  what are you doing in Karachi,’ and he would say ‘oh just some charity work, teaching.’ He never mentioned it beyond that, that it was the hospital in Korangi where he was working at.”

Born to Pakistani parents, Art moved to London at the age of three, only to return to Quetta to study in school for a year before moving back to London where he lived the rest of his life and built a commendable career in Hollywood.

“My involvement with it (LRBT) was immediate,” he further reiterated, “as eyesight is very important. And it seems ridiculous that people in Pakistan cannot get their eyesight sorted out for such a little amount of money.”

This brought us to ask what he was currently up to in Karachi. “We now need to raise the profile. One of the ways to do that is to come here, make a short film, which we can show at the next fundraising. So we’ve come over with a very small team. I’m staying only for two days but the team is here for two weeks; they will go up to Lahore as well, and then they’ll put together a short film. I have travelled here with the director and the trustee, Nusrat Mirza, (from Graham Layton Trust, the sister concern of LRBT in UK) who organized the gala that we did last year.”

Art couldn’t stress enough on how inspired he was with what he saw when he visited the LRBT hospital. “Having been to the clinic this morning, it’s extraordinary to see how much is being achieved. The idea that a hospital would be able to attend to a thousand men, women and children so easily – and from 7 am till 2 pm you have processed those who needed a bit of preventive care and those who only needed to have their eyes tested and only with a pound and fifty, he would walk away with some glasses. There were some who needed immediate surgery while others were to come back the next day. The sheer numbers is what impressed me. And if you think that is now represented throughout Pakistan, it’s very humbling. It’s also very inspiring that this is the sort of work that people in Pakistan are doing.”

LRBT is one charitable cause that Art has taken to heart, and the actor has been involved in a fair share of charitable work. “I got involved with the British Red Cross because of the earthquake in Bhuj, and also when there were floods and earthquakes in Pakistan, I was trying to raise funds for that back in Britain.”

As the conversation came to a close, Art concluded, “Pakistanis should be very, very proud of themselves. They’re one of the most charitable nations in the world and what I’ve seen so far has only strengthened my belief in this notion.”

  • Art Malik’s portraits by Kashif Rashid
Manal Faheem Khan

The author is Contributing Editor at Something Haute who has studied film and journalism from SZABIST. Will be found at the gym if not in the office.