When it comes to making films that are not only very organic in their subjects, but also have that commercial value needed to survive the trade, Nabeel Qureshi is the man.
Nabeel has made a steady rise to the top, becoming one of the most distinctive and trusted directors of Pakistan. He is one filmmaker who is changing the face of Pakistani cinema by bringing the much-needed vibrancy to the screen, and his work has left audiences astounded internationally as well.
In conversation with Galaxy Lollywood, director Nabeel Qureshi spoke at length about his interest, experiences, and achievements.
You started your career by directing ads, TV shows, and music videos. What made you pursue filmmaking?
Cinema is the ultimate director’s medium around the world. It gives you an ample margin to showcase your talent as it conveys your message to a relatively larger section of the audiences.
I took a conventional start in my career by working on television, at that point in time, Lollywood was going through a recession. Therefore, one could hardly think of making a film. As a director, it was my dream to work for cinema and thankfully I am having a stable innings on 70mm.
How was your Jodi with your producer Fizza formed? From the outside, it looks rock-solid and the idea of even minor creative differences seem alien. Are there any creative differences between you two?
I am friends with Fizza for the last 15 years. We have collaborated and assisted together for various TV productions and TVC’s as freelancers. We formed Filmwala in 2004 and started TV productions under the banner, eventually making films from 2014 onwards. No! we don’t have major creative difference as such; mostly we are very much on the same wavelength. We work in free space and are open to ideas, so we sort out things with mutual consent.
Your obsession with Fahad is quite evident as he is a necessary ingredient in all your films. Are the scripts written keeping him in mind?
No! We don’t have Fahad or anyone in mind while scripting. My process is to keep on writing till I have a decent script in hand. Surprisingly, FM has managed to fit in the bill every time.
He is undoubtedly a great actor and it’s an adventure when people who are intrinsically talented, bring in their own unique style and not their stardom. His presence was obvious in NMA 2 as it was a sequel. But for Actor In Law and Load Wedding, he was simply the best choice to play the part.
It is surely a high moment for you as NMA, NMA2, and Actor in Law have packed a solid punch at SAFACH. Moreover, Load Wedding is also nominated for ‘Best Feature’ at Jaipur International Film Festival. Tell us in detail how it all happened? Will you be attending the festivals?
It’s a proud moment for the industry and most importantly for Pakistan that our work is getting applauded internationally. I am excited for Load Wedding as it is competing with other films and hope we win an award for it.
Earlier, Actor in Law had a special screening at Jaipur International Film Festival. Besides, NMA, NMA 2, and Actor in Law are also being screened at the Indus film festival in Delhi. It was indeed a big achievement that the festival management called us and wanted three of our films for screening.
What part of your work excites you the most and why?
I love filmmaking, so there is not just one particular thing. Although shooting is the most interesting of all, but from the brainstorming session to scripting, shooting, dubbing, background score, and then post-production, I enjoy every bit of the entire process to the fullest.
Which one of your films would you call the most under-rated and why?
I have to say Load Wedding. The film had the potential to perform well at the box office. People couldn’t watch it due to the horrid allocations and odd timings given to the film. It was sabotaged by the cinema owners from day one as it wasn’t wisely distributed. I hope people will get a chance to watch LW when it releases digitally and that it will register itself as a hit.
Do you think independent filmmakers should not be bothered with just box office collection or hit-flop theory?
I think having a perspective on the story is the most important thing. Independent filmmakers have the passion and courage to showcase the art and content they truly believe in.
They don’t have the mindset to make money. We already have enough TV channel-led production houses for that. Independent cinema is experimental all around the world, they somehow give a better film to the audience which the big production houses fail to do.
Does monopolistic business policy of big banners/production houses exist in Lollywood?
Monopolies exist in every business, it’s part and parcel of the trade. You eventually have to face it. It is all about the power game. Monopolies aside, the channel wars are getting bigger day by day too. The pressures on filmmakers are huge but I wish the entertainment industry gets more united at all levels and take their work a bit more seriously.
In the age of social media, anyone may write a film review. Does it affect you?
Audiences have the right to question as we make films for them. But it is very easy to comment or criticize. Add to that the power of social media, which allows anyone to have a say.
More than critics, it’s what the masses think about our films that matters to us the most. And in Pakistan, films, cricket, and politics are well-liked issues that are always under close scrutiny. So for me, the opinion does matter, but only when people having a reputable body of work and credible portfolios are the ones giving that opinion.
What is your opinion on movie piracy?
Movie piracy doesn’t just harm the distributors and cinema owners. The revenue losses from piracy affects both, the technicians of the industry, as well as the country’s economy. Making a feature film requires a lot of hard work and involves struggle regarding many things.
It really hurts when Pakistani films are being telecasted on cable TV. It’s high time that the Producers’ Association and PEMRA take appropriate and necessary actions to curb the menace.
Lastly, tell us what’s next after Load Wedding?
We are still working on it, can’t talk about it right now, but will soon give you guys some news InshaAllah.