‘Naam Badal Dena’ Interview | by Rohan BhattacharyaINTERVIEW
Cult Critic: You have worked on several short-film projects before ‘Naam Badal Dena,’ it must have been quite a learning curve! Could you describe what you had learnt from your past experiences that helped you with your current project?
Answer: I had learned a lot from my past projects, foremost that there is always room for improvements, I had been called perfectionist, I try to give my best to every project. In this project all my past mistakes, learnings, experiences contributed towards making this short film a masterpiece of its own kind. I feel it is pertinent to mention that for a director it is very important that She/He should be given free hand and space specially when on the floor, categorically during shooting and it was amazing that I was given all due space and freedom to shoot every scene or shot to the best of my capability. Our producer Mr. Naveed Farooqi must be appreciated that he trusted me and gave me all the resources, liberty and encouragement to be able to Direct such a phenomenal short film. Credit must also be given to our cinematographer Mr. Shehroz Khan who understood and shot as per my imagination and his best technical abilities.
Cult Critic: Would you say that your short film, ‘Naam Badal Dena’ argues that men are oftentimes misunderstood? What according to you is the current condition of men in the society at large?
Answer: I feel that unfortunately men in our society are taken as always wrong and blamed most of the time but not all men are wrong or at fault, I feel it is very important to give due recognition and understanding to men as we give to women. Both men and women could be at fault and could have their own flaws and their own merits and we must accept their flaws equally and understand them as well, because end of the day we are all human beings.
Cult Critic:The film is your brainchild, and you feel intimately connected with it. What inspired you to make the film? Have you faced a similar situation as your character Shiza in your personal life?
Answer: Yes, I do feel that I am absolutely connected with the story line of the film, and I have seen my own reflection in the character of Shiza.
Cult Critic: The character of Shiza has an extremely positive attitude and would believe in her husband no matter what the situation is, although that is partly because of her childhood trauma. She wishes to become a person who is not her mother: a person whom she has subconsciously villainized deep inside her heart. It can be said that she was lucky to find an extremely faithful and kind husband in Salman. Realistically, a story as positive as this is rarely ever heard. Do you have a message for women who have fallen victim to marital abuse or cheating?
Answer: Yes, I have a message: “never give up hope, always be patient, there are so many nice and faithful men around. One must give it a chance and trust the process and always give space to your spouse, respect, trust and understanding each other can always lead to a prosperous and lasting relationship”.
Cult Critic: The title ‘Naam Badal Dena’ is a repeating refrain symbolizing the promise between Shiza and her husband before marriage. Had you in mind any other symbolism behind the title for your film?
Answer: This is my concept which was beautifully conceived in a written form by our writer Ms. Rida Bilal, who is an acclaimed writer, and we always had this thought that we ought to bring out positive perspective of a married life of a couple. As far as symbolism is concerned, I would like to say as our Producer Mr. Naveed Farooqi, came up with one of the apt and beautiful tag lines for our film “There is always a ‘Life’ which is happily lived ever after”, “She Desires, He Admires as love conquers it all” and “Untold Story of married lovers”.
Cult Critic: Both Hira and Arsalan did a remarkable job with their roles! We all know how difficult dealing with actors can be at times! Our magazine tries to reach out to independent filmmakers, and many of them have only just started to work towards their common dream. Could you tell our readers how you direct your actors and help them relate with their characters during pre-production and on set?
Answer: There are always difficulties in explaining and relating characters and roles to actors and getting the best out of them. In our case, our prime concern was creating the right chemistry between the two characters of “Shiza & Salman’. For this we had several discussion sessions, then rigorous rehearsals, to establish in-depth and develop connection and bonding between them to compliment the story and hence conquer it acting wise. It was our luck and their dedication that they understood our point of view and the depth & demand of story. Here, I would like to mention our Producer Mr. Naveed Farooqi, who also got involved deeply in the process, in explaining, and guiding the actors along with me to develop and achieve desired results. We both gelled in so powerfully and we both were adamant that we wanted something out of the box in terms of acting, cinematography, filming, postproduction and not to mention OST which is yet to be revealed and released. OST was written by Mr. Naveed Farooqi, called “Lamha Lamha”.
Cult Critic: From working as a banker, to becoming a full-time filmmaker, you have made an extremely drastic transition in your career. What propelled this change? What made you want to pursue filmmaking fulltime? What made you want to give up on that ‘stability’?
Answer: I think I was destined to be a film maker, predominantly director and it had to happen, I took it as a challenge, it has been 16 years of devotional journey and to be honest I never looked back. Here I am with “Naam Badal Dena” and have I no regrets whatsoever. All I have is gratitude and feel blessed to be able to continuously be progressing in the field of production/film making.
Cult Critic: While shooting your film, like most filmmakers you might have faced some problem or another. There could been an element that did not go according to your vision. Could you share your experience on how you to tackled such a situation?
Answer: Oh yes, there were lots of hick ups, hurdles, issues, and loads of problems, in each and every step of this film making from start till the end. And only way it was possible to be patient and never give up, so we kept up with our commitment and resolve and handled each and every bottleneck peacefully and patiently. Again, credit goes to entire Team.
Cult Critic:You have worked in the television series industry for a while, and that shows in your approach towards your story as a filmmaker. ‘Naam Badal Dena’ is a short film that embraces the aesthetics and the story-telling techniques that a South-East Asian audience would relate with a television series episode, which is quite unique. Do you wish to hold on to this style?
Answer: “Naam Badal Dena”, is created in a manner where we can set a precedent of film making specifically focusing South-East Asian audience and film makers. The story telling technique, a novel feel beyond television series, or cinema feel. As our banner “Deepblue Door Inc”, states in their tagline “Neurodivergence”, which is our mantra and that is what reflects from every element of our film.
I truly believe and practice that every story has its own canvas and when I embark on a new project I initiate with new and with Neurodivergence element to it . I would like to have all my future projects, to have their own style and feel. I would never want to keep or maintain any formula or same canvas to my films and projects.
Cult Critic: ‘Naam Badal Dena’ has a beautiful script. Your dialogues are fluid and well-placed, and your choice of words is poetic to say the least. Your strength as a screenwriter shows through your film! Would you like to suggest tips that could help our young readers become better story tellers?
Answer: This message is from our Producer Mr. Naveed Farooqi, who is also a writer himself and he says “in order to be a writer one has to read” therefore message for all young writers is to read, poets, books, scripts, stories be it in English, or Hindi, or Urdu any other language. To become a good writer \one has to be a great reader. Read Tagore, Manto, Ghalib, Premchand, Faiz, Majaz, Sahir, Qateel, Ismat Chughtai, Kaifi Azmi, Eliot, Gibran, Keats, Shakespeare and so many other amazing writers of sub-continent and worldwide.
Cult Critic: Your bio tells us that you have worked on films of various genres in the past. Which genre is the most exciting for you to work with, and why?
Answer: I like Thriller, Suspense, and Action, as far as reasons are concerned, I would say that because our lives are full of these elements and life is never a straight line.
Cult Critic: Besides screenwriting, direction, and production, is there any other facet of filmmaking that piques your interest?
Answer: My extreme passion is direction, but apart from that I wont mind acting and social work which I do a lot.
Cult Critic: According to your bio, you have been wanting to work on your first feature film for a while now; what genre would you delve into this time? Will we get to see your film anytime this year?
Answer: I would like to initiate a project mainly on romance or biopic of some legendary figure, and hopefully we will be starting our new project very soon under the Umbrella of our production company based in Canada “Deepblue doors Inc”, owned by Mr. Naveed Farooqi.
Cult Critic: In your bio, you have shared a quote by the legendary filmmaker, Kurosawa Akira. He happens to be an inspiration to many of our young filmmakers! What is your favorite Kurosawa film, and why?
Answer: Without taking a second, I would say “Rushomon”, it could take pages to describe the powerful intricacies associated with the film in terms of camera work, direction, explanation of human behavior in most profound cinematic manner. In short that is a piece o art like “Leonardo Da Vinci’s” “Monalisa”.
Cult Critic: Do you have any words of inspiration for future filmmakers who are yet to take their first step in their journey in the world of cinema?
Answer: My Message: This field is very demanding and challenging specially for females and one most be very confident, passionate, and determined, never give up, always be patient and eventually or ultimately you will achieve what you deserve. Always dream big, aim high and give your best sincere efforts to your work to achieve your goals. Patience and Perseverance are the main elements one should have and should adopt to be successful in filmmaking or directing or even producing films.
My heartfelt gratitude to “Cult Critic”, The Film Magazine for giving me the opportunity to share my views and present my short film, Naam Badal Dena, produced by Mr. Naveed Farooqi under the banner of Deepblue Doors Inc,