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Born To Be A Director

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Pakistani drama has always been the strongest medium in arts/genre of acting. Besides a muster of versatile actors we have produced, there is a lot of talented directors working behind the scenes of every successful drama. Pakistani drama has always been bifurcated in different eras like the founding era, the middle one and the modern or we can say the era of private production, which stared from mid 1990s and continues till now. The mushroom growth of TV channels in the advent of this century also gave a boost to these productions and provided more opportunities for talent in every section of drama. Pakistani drama also shifted a bit in its content because the new lot of writers and directors always wanted to experiment new things considering the vast venue opened before them. One of those talented and versatile directors is Mohsin Talat, who has been in the field of media for last 26 years. Since then, he has worked a lot, competed with all over the world and made our Pakistani drama proud. His recent notable work includes serials like Tere Mere Beech (2015), Ghar Titli Ka Par in (2018), Ki Jaana Mein Kaun (2018), Jaal (2019) and Daasi (2019). He is currently shooting a serial with Momal Production, Jaug starring Sonya Hussain and Sami Khan in lead roles.  

Here is a detailed talk with this born-to-be a kind of director and a very down to earth person at same time with Daily Paperazzi.

How did you decide to become a director?

It was all self-assessments. I started with modelling in commercials but during shoot, I realized that I was a better visualizer than a model, so there I decided to go behind the camera and became director. So sometimes, you decide it yourself what you should be while at times, your seniors guide you to the right path. I feel myself lucky in this sense.

When did you start it?

My first project in the field was in November 1993. Actually I had started working before completing my studies. I assisted in dramas just after my matriculation exams in 1994 and became a director before my graduation. Then, I did my Masters in Mass Communication from University of Karachi and a short course in film making from New York Film Academy. Besides, I did workshops from CNN and BBC. Now I teach at Arena Multi Media.

Which dram gave you a real recognition?

The drama which gave me a breakthrough was Titliyan on Indus Vision, the first ever soap of Pakistan that completed more than 100 episodes. In that period, other directors had done three to four dramas but I was content that I was making the history of doing the longest serial of Pakistan.  In those days, PTV did not believe in soaps or long serial. They even didn’t consider it a drama. But I was the one, who directed first soap of more than 100 episodes with Eveready Pictures for PTV named Jeans. 

How do you select story and cast of a drama?

In any production, ultimate decision is of director. These days there are too many other departments are also involved like content department and production development. We also get an opinion from writer being the master of the brainchild but director is the captain of the ship and responsible for the outcome of produc. Generally, when there is a hit, its credit first goes to actors, DOP, writers and in the end to the director but when it is a flop, the director is solely responsible.

Do you always read the script first?

I thoroughly go through the script before accepting it. I think, it is our responsibility to also educate public through our production, so I can never accept any script which I think can send any negative or wrong message.

What do you keep in mind when start a new project

I always try to keep my every new project different from my previous one. Usually directors work on the looks of actors to make their work different but I emphasize mostly on the novelty of different issue and stories for my each production.  

Who is your favourite writer?

To me it is more it is more important what is said than who is saying it. We are blessed with many good writers in Pakistan like Misbah Nausheen (Daasi), Sameera Fazal, Faiza Iftikhar, Umaira Ahmed, Zafar Meraj, Saji Gul, Bee Gul, Mustafa Afridi, Khalil ur Rehman Qamar and most of all Ashfaque Ahmed. I did his Tota Kahani. I also like the writing of famous actor Imran Ashraf. He has a very different point of view of narrating a story. It all depends on what type of story you want do and who has written that at the moment.

Who is your favourite actor?

It again depends on how the story and its characters are developing, which actor can act better on any specific character. We have a very few actors, who can adapt to any character. So, we have to choose the best one available for specific character.

I have been lucky in the sense that I get successful to have a new and best team for my every project. Actually a director mostly loves those actors, who surprise them and can’t be predicted for their next action. For me one of those actors is Uzma Gilani. I always enjoy working with her. She is like my mother. I have learned a lot from her. Not always in technical terms, but from her wisdom and approach to life.

What is needed if one wants to be a director?

I see a lot of difference in the approach and awareness towards the field of showbiz these days. Believe me when I told my father 25 years back that I wanted to be a director, he asked, “who the director is and what does he do”. In those days, parents wanted their children to be doctor or engineer, now they ask them to join showbiz to become an actor or director and induct them in media sciences. As far as the aptitude of being a director is concerned, one has to be very visionary, observant and most of all sensitive. Without being sensitive, one cannot excel or get the desired results in the field of performing arts.

How much lucrative is the profession of director?

To be honest, I am one of the highly paid directors of Pakistan at the moment. So yes, I would suggest those who have an aptitude and want to work in this field must join it as a profession. I think if I was a doctor or engineer, I would not be earning as much what I am earning being a drama director. I believe if you work hard, it increases your market value.  

How do you see Pakistani drama evolving in last 25 years?

I think every era of our drama had its goods and bad.  Every generation in every era tries to upgrade and experiment new things with their content. One thing I must share that senseless competition which we saw in recent years was not very high 25 years back. It has only emerged in last 20 years in the rouse of Zee TV, Sony and then Star Plus of India. Then there was Turkish content. Luckily in that competition most of us decided to stick to our own speciality, though sometimes we were asked to copy the trends from foreign content because if its popularity. Pakistani drama is still most watched and loved in the world because of its originality and the cultural, social and moral values. Our medium is steadily switching from television to digital but the content and its viewership is intact. It was actually a concern that what would happen if our first and second generations of drama industry retire but thank God we have taken it from there so well and managed to maintain the graph.

Who do you give credit for this success?

There are two things. One is to expend the industry while other is to make drama an industry. I have worked with every channel and they have their own priorities and agendas to promote them but there is only person who always thought for industry and his name is Ghazanfer Ali. He is the founder and godfather of Private production. His idea of private production actually turned our drama into an industry. In 1984, he left PTV due to some reason and started to produce dramas privately and asked PTV to buy and run them on its channel, to which PTV refused. Then he decided to establish his own channel to run these productions on while in between, provided many dramas to NTM, another prime time slot on first private channel of Pakistan. After 25 years he finally opened Indus TV. So, He is without any doubt or debate is the pioneer of making our drama an industry. All renowned directors and DOPs and other technical force are mostly trained at Indus TV.  

In this age of social media, directors have also become stars. They are concerned that they should similarly be celebrated with their cast. But it seems that you don’t like or need any attention from masses.

When we say media or showbiz, the thing which comes first into mind is being in front of camera or acting, which is not true. To be honest, I enjoy being a director as it gives me a sense of satisfaction. We have so many kings but few king makers and I want to be one of those king makers. Without a director, they would never be an artist. By the way, I am covered very often in morning shows and other talk shows but yes, I am not very active on social media because of my laziness. Now, I will try to be active there too.

What about doing a film on future?

I hope I will do a film probably with my Daasi actor Adeel Hussain.

So, is there something in the pipeline?

We both have our ideas in our own spaces. I have worked on two scripts for film, while Adeel has something different in his mind so I think, if these two ideas get together, it will be an interesting venture. We have at least reached to a point, where I think has put us in a position to announce something interesting and positive in a year or so.

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The Man Behind The Maestro

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan produces magical music and without a doubt he’s amongst the most sought-after world artists

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Famed Pakistani music maestros Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s producer and global manager Salman Ahmed has said that the 3 UK concerts had sold out completely showing the popularity of Pakistani artist across the South Asian communities.

Speaking to media, the veteran talent promoter and producer said that Rahat Fateh Ali Khan produces magical music and without a doubt he’s amongst the most sought-after world artists.

Salman Ahmed

Salman Ahmed has been managing Rahat Fateh Ali Khan for about 10 years. The music maestro was well known in Pakistan because of his strong vocal skills but Ahmed turned around everything for the artist and had made him a household name in millions of homes in South Asia and beyond. Three months ago, the University of Oxford awarded the music doctorate degree to Khan – a huge personal honour for the musician and for his country of origin.

“When I look back to nearly a decade long association with the maestro, I must admit that what a journey it has been on a global platform, cities across Vancouver all the way to Auckland. Achievements like the Noble Peace Prize Performance conceptualisation, United Nations, Music Room at the Oxford University, Honorary Doctorate for the maestro and hundreds of concerts all over the world. Thank you to all our associates, promoters and most importantly to my PME family who has made this happened with their devotion. I especially thank to our families, who have sacrificed the most perhaps and to all the audiences who have attended our concerts in huge numbers.”

Salman Ahmed said that credit for the success of Khan goes to his entire team who worked hard throughout the year on the shows and on the brand of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

“Behind every show, there’s sweat, blood and toll. We work hard all the time to maintain the highest of standards in what we promise and produce. Ustad Rahat performs for a few hours on the stage but thousands of hours of hard work are invested in the production of his shows and that hard work has worked to make him a mega hit. As a way of example, for our concerts starting this weekend at Wembley Arena more than 35 band members will be touring with the singer. There is a team separately working in an international office here in London on logistics, concepts, arrangements, production and marketing. Once these shows are over, we will start working on the next round of events. There is no break.”

In North America, due to India and Pakistan tensions at the government level, Salman Ahmed accepted that attendance at Rahat’s shows was slightly less, however he clarified that all the UK concerts were sold out. “You cannot deny that Rahat is loved by Indians, Pakistanis and other ‘Urdu-understanding’ communities. There is no alternative to him.”

Salaman Ahmed is one of the most experienced Asian art promoters, who has been in the field of entertainment from the age of 16 and started his business in London in 1987. By playing a big role in music maestro Rahat’s international success, he has now known as a global promoter and music producer. His alliance with the showbiz commenced some 32 years ago when he started organizing Bhangra nights and small British Asian concerts when British Asian singers had started making their mark. There was no social media and no Asian channels around. The BBC covered one of Salman’s first concerts at that time with a report to showcase how the second generation of British Asians was growing with a fusion of British and Asian culture. Salman was then just a teenager.

So far Salman Ahmed has worked with some of the top Indian artists including, Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Sonu Nigham, Mika Singh as well.

“You should only do what you are good at. You can do excellence only in your job if you are devoted to it with full passion and commitment. I believe in total commitment and nothing else.”

Unlike the maverick ways of some, Ahmed believes in treating his clients as a product. “My clients are my products. I promote products in the market. We invest in our products. We take risks and we inject our life into our products to make them a phenomenal success,” said Salman Ahmed acknowledging that Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan has been the biggest hit for him as a producer.

He says he believes in promoting Pakistani talent before the world and for Rahat’s London shows he is introducing around a dozen Pakistani musicians for the first time. “These are young, educated and dynamic musicians who have been playing at the Basement Café and in the underground scene in Karachi and Lahore. They are doing an outstanding job. For the fusion part of Khan Saheb’s shows these musicians will be used. They will be performing in front of the international audience numbering in the thousands and this will bring a unique kind of confidence in them.”

Salman Ahmed said he was very excited about the latest round of shows because Ustad Rahat Ali Khan will be doing fusion, using instruments and sounds not tried before.

Salman Ahmed with Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

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Lightingale Records: Ali Zafar Launches Record Label for Youngsters

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Ali Zafar Plays harmonium in a winter sun

Ali Zafar needs no introduction when it comes to performing arts in sub continent. Started his career as sketch artist in late 90s and then came as an actor and finally a vocalist with outstanding skills, releasing numerous hit singles and albums Ali has always managed to keep his job stable and thriving even during the most difficult times of his life.
Considering music is his first love, Ali Zafar has recently announced his record label, Lightingale Records, under which he aims to promote new musicians and artists.

Lightingale Records

Lightingale Records Logo

In his recent instagram post, Ali explaining the reason of starting this label, said, “Our land is ripe with talent waiting for the slightest of opportunity to flourish. However, due to lack of understanding of the importance of the Arts and Humanities in our society, we have been unable to develop a culture where talent can be nurtured, groomed and guided to reach its true potential, nor build an industry.”
He further said, “During all these years as a performing artist, I have had the great fortune of learning about different aspects of the music industry. As artists or human beings in general, we are intrinsically prone to become self-indulgent or internally focused, but that is the mistake that most of us make. I feel the only thing that carries on beyond our existence, is the honesty in our work and the sincerity of our intentions. An artist leaves a legacy, and surely that should not just be about him or her. In an era where we are bombarded with tools that bring out the vanity in us, I think it’s important to see the beauty and talent in others and help them achieve their goals and dreams also. Become a part of their struggle and journey and help them in any way you can. As I said before – “you are not a star if you can’t shine for others.” Let’s shine for each other and share the light.”

At the end of the post, Ali announced the launching “Lightingale records” and said that through this endeavour; he would personally mentor, produce, record and showcase talent of young and upcoming artists.
He further explained that their goal is to bring to light at least 10 new artists this year and give people some great songs to cherish.
He also asked his fans and followers to share more ideas for his initiative, “If you have any ideas that can augment this venture, do share. Stay tuned.”

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Our Favorite Fashion Divas that have Evolved Over Time

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While reading the title, you must be thinking about the acting skills and how these ladies have made their name in the drama and film industry. But no, here we are talking about the fashion game of these actresses that have taken us all by surprise. Perking up their style statement and emerging as few of the finest actresses in terms of being glamorous and presentable, they have absolutely conquered the fashion world. 

These are our favorite Divas who have proved that working on oneself is never a selfish thing and this hard work can eventually help you in the long run.

 

Saboor Aly 

Starting from soaps and not so glamorous dramas, we never saw Saboor Aly dressing up as impressively as she does now. Probably, this is the social fashion awareness that some choose to pick and some don’t. And, we have to say that Saboor is doing quite well with her dress sense while earning a huge fan following at a great pace. She is one of those finest actresses who keep us hooked to their gram-game as something cool and happening just pops up out of nowhere anytime and any occasion.

 

Nausheen Shah 

Our fancy-pants; Nausheen Shah has instantly beefed up her fashion game and we cannot stop admiring her taste and style in whatever she wears. She has definitely come a long way. Also known for carrying bold statements just like in a recent awards show, her hairstyle was quite eccentric perfectly aligning with a blingy Hussain Rehar attire.

Sadia Ghaffar

Her vibrant tops, glowing face and quirky pants have got our attention and we, indisputably, give her the award of being the most stylish actress among the lot. This was never the scenario from the day she joined the Entertainment industry so, she came this far and has definitely grown into a woman who keeps herself up-to-date in every trend and fashion.

Iqra Aziz 

Our recent favorite bride, Iqra has polished herself over time and we love how effortlessly she carries every outfit in sheer grace and pizzazz. Recently, she has been appointed as the face of Al-Karam and this was all a result of gradual progress and immense effort she has put into building her powerful aura and strong-headed personality that beautifully harmonizes with her chic and classic sense of styling. 

Sonya Hussyn

 

If Sonya had a synonym, it would be the word “grace”. We love her for her impactful persona, the way she dresses up and the way she owns everything she wears with undying confidence. There are very few celebrities who have evolved to be steezy and sassy in a way that they know what they should actually wear. Unlike some who do not even know their body type. Sonya Hussyn proves that style is always within, you can improve with time but class remains constant.

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