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Spotlight: Haseena Moin speaks out


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It’s never easy to make a sequel of a popular television serial and one that remains, even today, one of the best. Tanhaiyan was aired 27 years ago and broke popularity records even in India, making its writer, Haseena Moin, a household name there.

Now, for the ongoing Olpers Tanhaiyan — Naye Silsilay directed by Marina Khan who also played a central role in the original serial, Moin says she was only commissioned seven episodes while the rest have been penned by Mohammad Ahmed. She also says that she owns the copyright for Tanhaiyan and is not at all pleased with the turn of events.

When Images on Sunday approached Hasina Moin for her views on the subject, this is what she had to say...

Q. Tell us about the serial Tanhaiyan and how you found Shehzad Khalil as a director?

HM: At that time producer Sahira Kazmi was doing a serial for PTV Karachi centre and the first episode had loud comedy. The GM rejected it and as the slot time had to be filled, Shehzad Khalil asked me to write a comedy serial in one month’s time and took me immediately to meet the GM, who asked me what the story was. It was then that out of the blue the story of two sisters came to my mind. He liked it and thus the serial began in 1983. The experience of working with Shehzad was wonderful. He was a thorough gentleman and extremely good in his work.

Q. Coming to the present time, why didn’t you write all the episodes of Tanhaiyan — Naye Silsilay?

HM: Marina asked me to write the sequel in March 2012. Finding the sponsors took a bit long and the writing was delayed. I had told her earlier that I would be leaving for Switzerland in July. The sponsor was found near the end of June and I started writing the episodes, having developed the storyline and characterisation earlier. The old characters were there with the addition of new ones. By the end of July I gave them seven episodes and then left, having agreed to Mohammad Ahmad writing the future episodes. I also had no idea that a brand was being involved.

Q. How much of the original cast is in this new serial?

HM: The original cast from Tanhaiyan are all here, including Marina Khan, Badar Khalil, Qazi Wajid, Behroze Sabswari and Durdana Butt. Shanaz Sheikh who played Sanya refused to act in the sequel.

Q. Why did Shahnaz Sheikh refuse?

HM: She did not provide us with a reason. My guess is that as she had created an image in the past serial with her looks and young age, she didn’t want to spoil it. She has gained weight and has not maintained herself the way Marina has. So the director decided to use her daughters and husband with only a mention of her in the story. Shahnaz even refused the showing of past clips because the producer refused to pay her for it. If he had agreed to it, things would have worked out.

Q. What about the episode writing?

HM: When I came back I called the producer Jalil Akhtar, Marina’s husband, to see the episodes written by Mohammad Ahmad. I had told them in the beginning that I would allow him to write the episodes after checking what he had written when I returned, and that I would write the last episode. Both had agreed to it. When I came back I was surprised to see the turn the serial had taken. I called but there was no response from their side. I found this strange because I was not expecting it. Later some artists told me that a lot of changes had been made even in the episodes that I had written. I wouldn’t have minded the changes if it had been done for the better.

Upset with the situation, I called Marina again to tell her to remove my name from the serial as I knew the episodes were all made and could not be changed. But they couldn’t do that as I had penned the serial and they would be infringing on my copyrights because I owned the story. The brand marketing head was also told to take my name out. He conveyed it to Marina and Jalil Akhtar who realising the situation asked to meet me. I refused. All of a sudden people started calling me, including Mohammad Ahmad and Behroze Sabzwari. I told Behroze meeting anyone was useless now as the serial was made and the damage had been done. Even the viewers can make out that the style of writing is not mine. For me, the additions to the story are meaningless and unnecessary. But I forgave them after they came to my house and apologised, and I have allowed them to continue with the serial.

Q. Are you satisfied with Mohammad Ahmed’s work?

HM: Some of the characters that he introduced like Hakka who stammers, is not funny at all and the other character Apa Begum’s spirit, is senseless. Though he is a good writer, I regret to say that he has not been able to capture the essence of the original Tanhaiyan.

Q. How do you find Marina’s direction?

HM: Marina is not a very powerful director. Some of the scenes which required a climax such as the first one, and Marina’s entrance in the next episode, did not make the impact which was required as they were pivotal to the story. The story might improve later on but then Marina has never directed a serious comedy, which is very difficult to make. She has yet to make her mark as a director. But she is a very good actress, there can be no doubt about that.

Though I am hurt, my blessings are still with Marina Khan and her team.

Q. With increasing branding taking over television productions, what do you think of Olpers’ Tanhaiyan — Naye Silsilay?

HM: I didn’t like the title and asked them to change it which they didn’t agree to. Tanhaiyan is a prestigious serial, not a product. Literature and drama are different things and a dairy product is a different thing. Sponsoring it doesn’t mean you own it. Things have now become so commercialised that tradition, culture and refined taste have taken a backseat. Corporate sponsors can help a lot in promoting culture and literature, but not at the cost of cultural values.

Q. Your past serials had two directors and just one writer, that was you. In this sequel there are two writers and one director.

HM: For nearly 10 years I worked with two directors: Shireen Khan and Mohsin Ali, Zaheer Khan and Shireen Khan, Mohsin Ali and Shoaib Mansoor. The reason for this was that while one episode was being acted out and one of the directors was directing, the other would sit with me and prepare for the next episode as they had to be done very quickly. We gave each other the credit because we worked together as a team, and the result was good.

It’s not the same anymore. Today, a single person wants to take all the credit and thus there is no teamwork. The writer wants accolades, while the director feels he or she has done a good job. It is a very cut-throat situation. This serial could have been better if everyone had worked together. In the past, my directors consulted me at every step. There were no egos or complexes, and monetary gains were not all-important then.

Comments (42) Closed

Hasnain Nov 27, 2012 06:23am
yes, I too rate Dhoop Kinare & Ankahi above Tanhayian. But that doesn't mean Tanhayian was not good. It was one of her best serials and a great hit and I like it very much.
Zahira Nov 30, 2012 07:04am
I just don't like the sequel..It is very boring,does not make you laugh,most new characters are really annoying and definitely Marinas direction has destroyed the drama .I wish they had not made the sequel and left us with pleasant memories of the classic drama....Hasina Moin cannot just blame others as some of the new dramas like meri behan maya are rubbish, which she has written alone.I think to make behroze act like the old qabacha at his age is ridiculous"..he is so irritating and unpalatable.....aapa begums spirit and too many scenes of bibi & chandni r not at all funny...overall the sequel is just as useless and boring as the old tanhaiyan was entertaining and wonderful.
amjad shah Nov 28, 2012 04:52pm
hello brother i want to talk with haseena moin sahiba plz provide me her contact no kindly
iSMAT Nov 27, 2012 04:49am
Your letting Haseena moin speak her mind has greatly pleased me.No two people foresee the same future be it in life or in a drama. Haseena's two sisters clicked with audience.Now Mohammad Ahmed'S two sisters depart from the original--- Tanhanian sisters. Sanya played by shahnaz sheikh daughter would be OK in fantasy but not in a drama.By gaining weight and not maintaining herself -is not a PROBLEM SOME PEOPLE HAVE THE NATURAL TENDENCYTO GAIN WEIGHT. WE can have shahnaz sheikh--- the natural-as a teacher whose personality shines through her job as a teacher and her children,this would be a tribute to the teachers. shahnaz sheikh's daughter acting as her mother would be foil to character. sheikh'smay be seen as coming down to her original weight during the episodes as she is the only one who could truly do justice to her long remembered character as the elder sister.
Hello1 Nov 26, 2012 09:19pm
The new serial is a big bore with a capital "B". It has spoiled Ms Hasina's sterling image.
bushra Nov 27, 2012 11:52am
Nobody can come up with the best stories every other day, it happens once in a blue moon.This drama was one of the best piece of work given to PTV by HM and she was the only person who knew how to write it or how to link the old and new version together. Tanhaiyan could not in any way be related to her other dramas which are boring or not so popular like i said it's once in a life time opportunity. Take the example of j.k rowling the author of the famous series Harry potter has written another book which is not famous at all so, that does not mean she is not a good writer.
Indian Nov 25, 2012 03:28pm
Tanhaiyan was wonderful. It was the Pakistan that i was familiar with in my teenage which proved to be an illusion subsequently. Long live the people of Tanhiyan!!!
Mohsin Nov 26, 2012 03:50am
there is no harm in making sequesl, but a product name shouldn't have been added. only "Tanhaiyan - naye silsilay" adding Olper's to it is actually ruining the name.
Mr.T Nov 25, 2012 12:35pm
wow, it's worth reading Hasina Moin Q/A from the past and present. If Marina would have discuss with HM before launching the serial it might been good. Although she is right about one thing tanhaiyan is a prestigious serial, not a product, and now everything is so commercialized that take away all the essence and the message given to the society from the drama.
zafar Nov 26, 2012 07:00am
An example of commercialism in artistic expression spoiling the mood. But I am still enjoying what's left of it. Brings back my childhood memories ?? ?? ??? ????? ???? ??? ???? ??? ??? ???? ?? ???? ????
Ali Abbas Nov 26, 2012 04:32pm
Not to politicise this but what are the values and culture of Pakistan? Senseless violence and extremism is the new culture. Everything in Pakistan has deteriorated, I am not sure why people are harping on a drama serial.
SYED FARHAN ALI Nov 26, 2012 10:24am
well making sequal is not bad at all but the sequal should be a blast bcaus people were expecting better than before now.... another thing is lacking is proper planning, if taking seriously, it would be a huge come back.................. we love u HM as well as MK.
Zeeshan Nov 26, 2012 12:01pm
Times have changed, we have to admit this fact. If a remake of original Tanhaiyan with similar cast is now made, it may not be liked by all - in my opinion. During the 80's there was no other option by the entertainment starved nation, but to watch PTV, similarly there was no real threat or competition against PTV, therefore our nostalgic generation (including me) who enjoyed the first airing of Tanhaiyan still lives in that era. The sequel will certainly gather strong love-hate feelings and it may not have that blast-from-past kind of a touch, but lets atleast enjoy the parts which are good. You can please all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot please all the people all the time..(with excuse to Mr John Lydgate and Mr Lincoln)
Ahmar Qureshi Nov 26, 2012 05:02am
Ah! this drama still runs like a projector on the walls of my childhood era! Pleasant to see all the previous characters (cast) & well come to new ones as well! The best part is the return of Behroze Sabzwari in an Iconic role of "Qutb-ud-Din => Qabacha" :-D Mashallah he still looks as young as he use to be back in 80's even if I beside him - I would look older! :-) I wish all the Very Best for this Team! Thank you!
ram Nov 26, 2012 02:36am
hifsa Nov 25, 2012 12:10pm
i don't think that sequael is bad at all...hasina moen recent dramas haven't done i guess marina making a mark here...yes there r loopholes but i've found that to b in the original tanhiyan as well...there must have been a misunderstanding but if hasina moin had accepted their apology she shldn't ahve been such a spoil sport to critcise it in public..
Nabila Nov 26, 2012 05:54am
I also don't like this name of the drama; and brand name must not be the part of the title, although brands were/are supporting the dramas, otherwise drama is good. It is not less than the original Tanhanian. Haseena's drama's were big hits in the past but there was not much competition in those days. She could not compete in these days e.g. her "Saray Mausam apnay hein" on Geo is a big crap. I agree with Hifsa that if hasina moin had accepted their apology she shouldn
Pakistani in US Nov 26, 2012 06:02am
It was a true representation of that time in Pakistan, so wasn't an illusion (like a karan johar movie for example). But I agree that Pakistan is obviously a very different place right now. We have to wait and see if all the blood shed, violence and extremism in the recent years helps Pakistan become a more tolerant and mature nation. I hope we have learned some lessons for good. God bless Pakistan.
MZ Nov 25, 2012 08:58pm
Tanhaayan and Ankahi were two great serials. Haseena's serial were all the same yet she was original not like Fatima Bajiya. It was Haseena who made Marina what she is today. All these peple only care about how much can they make and do not care about something called 'ethics' or 'principles' and then they appear on 14th August complaining that Pakistan has gone bad and we should do better.
Pakistani in US Nov 26, 2012 06:07am
Also the strength of Pakistani literature and drama industry is it's portrayal of contemporary Pakistan without any superficiality - whether it's good, bad or ugly. This would eventually prove to be a great asset for Pakistan in the days to come.
Hello1 Nov 27, 2012 08:40am
I would like to add one more thing to my earlier comment: Antics which were hilarious when Behroze Sabzwari and Marina Khan were young, in the original "Tanhayian" now seem forced, contrived, laboured and add to the boredom of the play. Ms. Hasina Moin has also gone downhill. The excuse that someone else wrote/amended the script in her absence does not hold water. Another serial penned by her is being shown on a different channel and is totally boring
Sana Raees Nov 28, 2012 09:28am
Hats off to Maa'm Hasina Moin for her conceptualization of the drama "Tanhaiyaan"- the old version..
Anoosh Khan Nov 26, 2012 04:10pm
I think there's no harm in making sequels; many great movies have sequels. The only thing that concerns me is that quality shouldn't be compromised for monetary or some mundane issue. Besides, I think the writer should be consulted because s/he is the one who can "visualize" the script and hence help in the production.
Sikandar Ali Nov 25, 2012 10:08am
If anyone one wants to see a great drama, That is Tanhaiyan. This is one of the great drama produced by the Pakistan television and Zindabad PTV
aaa Nov 26, 2012 10:14am
seems like you dont have taste for what is good:
AK Nov 26, 2012 02:43pm
I Agree, Marina Khan shall move on......
AK Nov 26, 2012 02:34pm
Well, Pakistan got potential making best drama serials, so let it be. Government shall provide support this as industry. However it is important that dramas serial makers keep it as ONLY FAMILY dramas and try not get in competition of being different and bring out unknown crazy subjects which need much less attention than the other. Off-course being different is important but not at the cost of humanity, morals and general decency. And in the end, I like to thank Haseena Moin for her plays she created
Razor Nov 26, 2012 08:32am
if i am not mistaken this was the pakistani serial who's video cassettes used to be available in india as well in late 80s.
TALHA Nov 26, 2012 02:35pm
i am really dis appointed by the sequel infact people who watched tanhaiyan in 80's also dis appointed because the story lost the essence of the original tanhaiyan and also destroy the values and culture of pakistan
Farhan Nov 26, 2012 06:57pm
HM is not being true,why did she write 7 episodes and not others if she is so worried about her copyright
Farhan Nov 26, 2012 06:58pm
I agree. Hasina Moin could not write well but got her share of booty. Now she wants to avoid the negative fallout of a weak script and bad direction
curiousforever Nov 26, 2012 07:52am
There's no harm in making sequels at all...but if you are to do that then do it well for crying out loud people ! Have the decency to come at par with the diligence and hard work that's been put in the making of the original.Show that you are as passionate about the project as the people before you were,be it Writer,director,actors or producers.This "Tunhaiyaan Naey Silsily" crap is nothing but a way of cashing on the name that the original play made and left all us proud at one time and still does when we think about it...! I mean seriously Marina Khan?!!! What a waste of talent !!
skeptic Nov 25, 2012 06:10pm
i quite agree
pakistani Nov 26, 2012 11:02am
Ankahi was better then Tanhayian
Asad Nov 25, 2012 03:06pm
Tanhayan 2 should never have been made. It somehow spoiled the original as well.
Samm Nov 26, 2012 10:53am
Please make correction in above information though it should be corrected by editor or interviewer. The role of Sanya was played by Marina Khan not by Shahnaz Sheikh...
curiousforever Nov 26, 2012 07:43am
Wow...just finished reading comments of those who actually like what's being shown in this garbled version of the original (read Classic) Tunhaiyaan...interesting to see how mediocrity is so widely accepted by Pakistani viewers now... ! This is why Pakistani media lags behind from the rest of the world ! Sad !
MBA Nov 26, 2012 09:22am
So now our national media heritage is being pissed upon by has been actors looking to make a few bucks? Pathetic.
curiousforever Nov 26, 2012 01:38am
Utterly disappointed to see the sequel... mediocrity at it's best is what it is! Not a single "supposedly funny" dialogue succeeds in bringing even a smile to the face..neither are the situations interesting enough to hold a viewer's attention for too long. On the contrary it leaves one wondering what the heck is going on with the script and the direction both by the way are in extremely bad taste.Please Marina Khan and Mohammed Ahmed give up and DO NOT attempt to diminish and blemish the beauty of the beautifully scripted,directed,produced and acted ORIGINAL Tunhaiyaan...just STOP ...wrap it up and move on..Don't you get it your credibility is also involved here and is being terribly tarnished with each proceeding episode ...? Wake up and smell the coffee Tunhaiyaan neay silsilay team !
Ahmer Nov 25, 2012 11:31am
I am very disappointed with the sequel - like HM says, its quite visible that its not her writing style. There is a very fine line between a Stage comdey and a TV seriel comedy - I hope Marina Khan understands that sooner than later - she is a brilliant actress & a wonderful person and would certainly love to see her improve as a director and produce/direct original scripts rather than remakes & sequels
Hasnain Nov 27, 2012 06:21am
@Zeeshan, you are right that we can't please everybody but I want to add one thing here that it is not like at that time people only watched PTV so they watched all serials with great attention or love. The good work speaks out itself no matter what era we are living in. The proof is that if a kid who has born after the first run of Tanhayian watches it in 21st century, he/she still applauds that. The reason being they worked hard, worked with true dedication and sincerity, without greed, and most of all in a united team. Team effort and continuous hardwork was the biggest cause for their success.
bushra Nov 26, 2012 07:47pm
When i first read the news on face book i thought it was a rumor but, now after reading this interview i am a little disappointed that it is true. We all love our classic dramas and everything related to it including it's cast, director, writer everyone and there is no doubt about that they all did a marvelous job. This interview truly reflects what a writer feels about his/her scripts or novel or about that piece of work that he/she owns. Making sequels of classics is a good idea but, it don't always work especially if originality is not there meaning it was the original work of Haseena moin and no other writer whether good or bad could reflect her thoughts or even follow her plot. There's a saying that too many cooks spoil the dish, this can be applied here as well .The other writer i.e Muhammad ahmed has played with the feelings of haseena moin and i am sure he can understand that being a writer himself.He would not allow anyone to make amendments in his stories then why he did that with HM is a big question mark? who forced him? why he did not tell them that it is not fair or he can't do that to any writer.What was the point of apologizing after doing the damage? Who is to blame the writer or the director? And how can such a classical sequel be written and shot in such a short span of time? Seriously isn't that risky?.Haseena moin herself said that Tanhaiyan was her pride and if anything went wrong people will blame her for it that's why she asked marina to cut her name from the play as a writer but, marina simply could not because HM owned the legal copyrights.No wonder why shehnaz sheikh did not want to be part of the play maybe she wanted HM to write all the episodes.This interview has left us with hundreds of unanswered questions which all the tanhaiyan fans have the right to know.