An Interview with Sarmad Sehbai
MaheMir, an upcoming Pakistani film starring Iman Ali and Fahad Mustafa in lead roles will be in cinemas from May 6, 2016. Team All About Pakistan interviewed the writer of this film, Sarmad Sehbai sahab, to know more about his work and this film.
1. How is this film different from your previous work? Will it be trademark Sarmad Sehbai work?
SS: This film will be much more than my other work. This is because a magical madness will be added to it due to the aura of bigger screen. My personal style is there, that is natural. But this one will appear more magnified.
2. What is the message/food for thought you actually want to bring to light here?
SS: There are more than one thoughts. It links back to our colonial history. Orientalists tried to create a sort of hatred in the mind of locals about our local culture. They succeeded in that. The proof can be seen in the fact that the post partition elite still see the local culture in that light. MaheMir is an effort to break this stereotype. When Ranjha is shown in any film, why does he always have a bansuri? Why Ghalib is always shown wearing that funny cap? Why is Mir always considered as a person who always cries? These stereotypes have made our own legacies a laughing stalk for everyone. Breaking these stereotypes, and showing another creative angle of Mir is one reason. Our new generation should be able to embrace our own legacies. Another food for thought is that Mir is not a part of history but is shown as someone very much present in this era. The metaphors like “Mir Kehta Hai” are used to create that feel. New generation writers are highly confused over their relationship with their culture. This is one effort to make it easier for them to connect with their own culture.
3. Have you been involved in film making of MaheMir? Do you think the director has done justice to your script?
SS: Yes. Interpretation of a creative thought is always in many layers. Film making is a collaborative art. It is important for everyone involved in the creative process in film making to share the primary vision. It is a collaborative effort.
SS: No. We met many actors for this role after it was written. I have shelved another film in the past only because no suitable actor was there. When talking to Fahad Mustafa I told him that the role is tough. He replied that “sir, mein bhi tough hon (I am also tough)”. It is great that he took up the challenge. Whether he did justice to the role or not, this is for the audience to decide.
5. How important in your view is the script writer’s job?
SS: Script is the backbone of any film. Even soundless films cannot be made without a proper script.
6. Why do we see a lack of excellent scripts in our cinema despite the fact that we have excellent creative writers in Pakistan?
SS: This is because of our cultural attitude towards performing arts. We have a certain hostility towards performing arts. Written words, however sensual they are, are considered fine. The same when appears in a film or a stage drama become unacceptable suddenly. Creativity has been hindered by forced Islamization of political forces. Go back into history. People like Wajid Ali Shah are the true founders of Bollywood. His Parikhana is what became Bollywood. But now with the encouragement through opportunities available in TV industry, more and more people are considering this field.
7. Which role is the most important in this film?
SS: All of them! Don’t make me choose one. That is unfair.
8. What was your inspiration to write this film script?
SS: Producer Badar Ikram talked to me about it. He mentioned that there are so many films and short stories written about Ghalib. Why no one considers the painful creativity process of others? Why not talk about creative madness of Mir? That concept stayed with me.
9. Do you think every script has some part of the personality of the writer as well?
SS: Yes, most definitely. The author’s own experiences, personal touch, personal choices and thinking are always a part of what they create.
10. What other projects are you working on?
SS: Some are in progress. You will get to know about them soon.
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