"I remember having to attend my music lessons after my university classes."
When I returned, the hostel's doors were locked, and I had to spend the night in a cafeteria."
Sometimes there are moments in life which inspire you to be what you are today. I had mine back in 2013 when I won a competition that inspired me to pursue music professionally. It wasn’t an easy decision to make but I followed through and was lucky to have a family that supported me through it.
As any journey goes, the beginning is always the hardest. My first two years felt like a never-ending staircase filled with the uncertainty of not being able to see what lay ahead. But I had to take those initial steps, slowly and moving at my own pace. I went for my music classes at Radio Pakistan after my university classes and often I'd get back so late that my hostel would lock their doors. So my only choice would be to spend the night at the cafeteria.
Learning an art is never easy, there are days you may doubt yourself and others may try to pull you down. But art is never perfect and nor are we. Whatever life throws at us, it’s important to stay positive and keep pushing. This mindset has continuously helped me throughout my journey and when building my career.
And now, if we fast forward nine years, I have gone from late night music classes to being an artist who received several awards and found myself in a Times Square billboard..
Yet, I strongly feel there aren't enough opportunities for aspiring artists in our country. Receiving awards isn’t the end goal for me - I want to take our country and the limitless talent within our nation forward by passing on my learning and giving back. Unfortunately, Pakistan lacks any place or platform for kids in our country to learn arts. I hope to one day build a school for kids where they can learn and pursue art for free, to empower women in our country who fight for their basic rights.
But I see a glimmer of hope in the sense that art and its expression are spreading in Pakistan, and Manto is contributing to this movement. I have a fondness for the Manto, and wearing it is always timeless, original, and unique. I resonate with Saadat Hasan Manto as well as the other talented poets showcased by Manto’s designs. As an artist, I felt Manto was able to capture who I am and the essence of art. So when I was considering an outfit for my Times Square billboard, it was the first brand that came to mind.
For all struggling artists, don’t ever stop creating art and stay positive. Keep learning and exploring. You’ll go where you are destined to be.
Message From Team Manto: Words can't explain how overjoyed we were to see Mehak Ali wearing a basic and Gumaan shawl from Manto. Seeing our Manto Family achieve so much and keep moving forward in life is what motivates us to keep going!