Ali Moeen, a seasoned dramatist and lyricist of Pakistan’s television industry talks to Karvan about his career and reveals the challenges of being a writer.
1. How many drama scripts have you written so far? Which ones have been your most memorable ones?
I don’t like to count anything. It augments the sense of mortality and ending. It has been two decades of persistent writing for screen sans the days of wary escapes.
2. You wrote the lyrics of “Yeh Hum Nahen” featuring national vocal talents including Ali Haider, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Strings, Haroon and others. What inspired you to conceive such a memorable song?
Waseem Mehmood, an awarded journalist, friend and a great visionary from the UK, contacted me and asked me to come up with a song that would launder the terrorist blotch of Muslims. The year was 2006-7 and you can only Google to know how testing those times were for us globally. Besides that, the pain was personal as well. I, like millions of others, was being judged for my belief and faith. And that intended generalization made me a victim of misjudgment. Yeh Hum Nahen became a global movement. Times of India had it as its lead Editorial line. BBC, CNN, FOX NEWS, Media across Europe, Far East etc etc covered it. It went around the globe in 80 hours I guess. That’s one thing I will always be proud of. The 1st Global Voice against the unjust and atrocious image war meted against the Muslims was mine. I can never thank Waseem enough for giving me this chance.
3. How much evolution in Pakistan’s drama industry have you seen ever since you entered this field as a dramatist?
This is difficult to answer as it easy also. Yes, we have evolved in technology and other creative aspects. The content debate will never end because those who run the show will see it their way which is justifiable. It’s their money and rules of business are hence defined accordingly. Then there is a cluster of people who want content to be the king. One question will always be there; have we grown as an industry? Remember when we talk of anything as the industry, thriving of all involved is always a sub-text.
4. You wrote the script for “Makan Number 47”, the last serial of Late Moin Akhtar. How was the experience of working with him?
Aahhh Moin Bhai… I was blessed to have his love and care as he had for his children. No one has seen angels but I have; treading in flesh and blood. He was not just a legend but a much greater human being. He was all YES for me. I shared the idea with him and he liked it very much. The whole serial had only 4 characters. Moin Bhai wasn’t well those days but he still played his role with perfection. I say I got orphan twice. Once when my father died and second when Moin Bhai passes away.
5. You have written scripts for TV dramas and Tele-films. How much difference is there when writing for these two genres?
Now add films in this chain also. They are diametrically opposed genres. Let me tell you the difference in one sentence; learning how not to write is what you require to write a script for a film. It’s opposite in dramas.
6. What are your responsibilities as Convener, Asia Peace Film Festival (APFF)?
A film you know has no boundaries. It requires no passport to travel nor can any immigration law frenzy stop it from landing anywhere. This independence of navigation makes a film as the last hope to unite the world. APFF is here to engaging filmmakers, artists, performers, academics and members of the creative community across Asia to unravel the delicacies of diversities and locate common grounds across cultures and societies. These efforts are directed to establishing a dedicated Asia Peace Film Academy as a center of excellence for skill development and a means of continuing education of aspirants, amateurs, and professionals associated with the media and film industry. Future plans are big!
7. What key factors make a good dramatist become great?
I wish there was any rule, any SOP, any guidelines for that. Unfortunately, the things we consider as essentials are all the jobs of technicians. Being passionately imaginative, surgical observation and perceptive emotions are just a few I can put here. Here again, being well read is a given.
8. Which dramatist and playwrights of Pakistan have inspired you the most?
I respect everyone who writes because I precisely know what it takes to write a page and then second and then third… My personals inspirations are different. I read a lot of literature. Milan Kundera, Borges, Marquez, I.B.Singer and Oscar Wilde are my eternal muses.
9. Your message for aspiring dramatists of Pakistan
Read. Write. Reject Yourself. Rewrite. And be fearless. All you need is a pen and a blank paper. Your thoughts are only that far from arriving.
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