Dawn.com talks to Zeeshan Kazmi who made his directorial debut with the forthcoming film The Dusk, a socio-political drama venture of Wajahat Kazmi Films & Shahzad Nasib.
Tell us a little bit about your project and how long you've been working on it.
It’s a film which talks about human emotions and behaviour of society towards victims of terrorism in the current situation of Pakistan, We’ve been working on the film since September 2010.
How do you think masses of Pakistan will respond to it, given the different aspects you are looking at?
Those who are looking for realistic cinema projects will find it believable and presenting their thought process in current scenario and others who are looking for entertainment inside films will disappoint themselves.
With tons of Bollywood and Hollywood films being released at the same time alongside, what kind of people do you think will come to see the film?
The film does not aim to compete those larger than life Bollywood and action-packed technology-oriented Hollywood movies because of major differences in the production scale and the style of storytelling, The Dusk isn’t a commercial film at all but I think filmgoers will give it a try.
What aspect of the film struck you most when you saw the story for “The Dusk”?
Well, every auteur truly wants to underscore his/her own mindset while making films. When I first read the script I was like “Oh yes this is what I was looking for to make a film on”.
The film follows the current situation and showing the multifaceted nature of the country. How did you go about “casting”/finding these people for the film? What surprised you the most when following their lives?
Finding actors for a film is the most difficult task film makers are facing these days. Talent resources are limited because most of the actors we can cast are from television industry and getting them “in” effects a film in two ways. First, audience watch these TV actors all time on their televisions so the exclusiveness of film gets killed and secondly acting style of film is extremely different from the TV style of acting which overall affects the grandness of film and makes it closer to TV serials.
The other resource is fashion industry but the success ratio of models-turned-actors is quite limited because their focus of being an actor is more about visual appearance instead of characterization aesthetics and emotional facility.
How has the response and experience been towards your film during international film festivals?
The film was supposed to hit festivals late 2012 but the film company which has produced the film wanted it to be in local theatres before screening it anywhere in the world in order to keep the film exclusive to audience, that’s why festival screenings have been postponed.
With a lot of young people coming up, telling stories and having a sense of direction, making films seems like the new “in” thing. How do you think it can be invested upon further to make it a better professional endeavor?
I think this is the right time for film students to jump in because many young film makers have initiated the process and with the energy of young, film literate team members we can invest upon it further.
Do you think the new breed of filmmakers are recreating our long lost cinema or following Bollywood?
To be honest, nobody is recreating our long lost cinema. Some filmmakers are working in Bollywood style to directly get commercial success while few are doing their own stuff according to standard film art.
As you look back on “The Dusk” as a finished product with the film about to be released, how do you feel about it as a product?
I love the film as it is my debut direction but I believe that it could be made better with more research and planning. That’s what comes from experience
What must a film have in order to captivate a mass audience?
Our audience lacks cine-literacy which forcibly makes them like only the production value and star cast of a project. Without being cine-literate one cannot watch and appreciate the film. Our filmgoers will enjoy a shot with extreme distortion of lens more than a subtle moment of emotion. They will enjoy a larger than life visual treatment with Hell drums more than an inner vocal reaction of a character or symbolism. Categorical rejection is also a common trend found in our audience. Practically, captivating a mass audience is not a task of today’s filmmaker for now.
What are the biggest obstacles for aspiring film-makers in Pakistan?
There are hundreds but mainly absence of talent resources, vision-less actors, non-practical approach of film crews and unavailability of proper marketing structure are some of the main hurdles
How can the country invest further in this industry?
With people who have mastered film education, we can build better teams. People should participate in the whole process of film-making as screenwriters, art directors, cinematographers, editors and sound designers instead of searching for the director’s chair only.
I, myself designed posters, directed and edited film, designed sound, worked on lyrics and at times narrated the film through my voice in “The Dusk”.