In conversation with Jami: The ‘other’ side of Pakistani film revival

Published 07 Sep, 2015 01:21pm

Umer Bin Ajmal

Director Jami says recent cinematic successes are a complete reconstruction of the film industry in Pakistan.

Film 'Operation O21' director Jamshed Mahmood (Jami). — Photo: Yumna Rafi/Dawn
Film 'Operation O21' director Jamshed Mahmood (Jami). — Photo: Yumna Rafi/Dawn

KARACHI: Calling Pakistan's recent cinematic successes a revival of cinema does not seem to cut it for Operation O21 director Jamshed Mahmood who dubs the growth a “complete reconstruction of the film industry”.

Speaking to Dawn in an email interview, Jamshed Mahmood — popularly known as Jami — pointed out that even though the industry presented a good outer view, it lacked the resources needed to produce basic films let alone high-end cinema.

“Sound mixing is the main issue at present. A lot of people claim to know the game and have the system, but I believe no one is completely ready for films as yet. Mixing entails a proper studio hall with all necessary equipment as well as lots of experience,” he said.

Jamshed Mahmood. — Photo Courtesy: Facebook
Jamshed Mahmood. — Photo Courtesy: Facebook

While stressing that his mixer and editor had done an “amazing job” when it came to mixing sound for his films, Jami said filmmakers have often had to travel abroad for the purpose.

Explaining how mixing works, Jami said key factors in the process are the leveling of audio recording in sync with the film's storyline and the director's vision.

Apart from lamenting the technical shortcomings, Jami was also critical of the country's television commercial industry, saying the industry lacked “honesty and ethical values”.

“Top directors in our TV commercial industry promote Bangkok instead of trying to create a market here,” he said.


‘Pakistan's film industry is still very young’


Nevertheless, Jami does not feel completely hopeless and underscores that a proper system needs to be set up in Pakistan. Alluding to the demise of the Pakistani film industry in the late 20th century, he says it is still very young.

“We have entered a digital era in filmmaking, mastering which will take time and understanding,” he said, stressing that a huge budget was needed to deliver a high-end product.

To fulfill his aim of making a self-sustaining film industry in Pakistan, Jami said his team has brought the country’s first 4K DaVinci Resolve — known as the world’s most advanced colour correction system — which was being used in operations by Sharp Image — a post and animation studio rendering facilities for film and TV commercials.

“The 4K DaVinci Resolve system was also used in O21, Na Maloom Afraad, Moor and a few other film trailers,” he said, adding that “more people are joining in, which is a sign of improvement”.

Talking about Moor, Jami said it would be paving way for different ventures for budding directors as it introduces the use of new technology when it comes to film-making in the country. With the new technology, filmmakers would not have to turn to other places for better facilities.

“We had Red Mx cameras, Epic X and an established audio recording system which made it possible for us to record locally,” he said.

“We decided not to go to India for recording and in that way we assumed complete control of the film. However, it also inevitably slowed down the shoot because given the pace at which the Indian market works, it has the potential to churn out one film per week,” he said.

Moor is a very special film for us,” Jami said proudly, adding that the film was a self-financed project by him and distributor Nadeem Mandviwala. However, the director chose not to disclose the film's release date.


More cinemas, new talent


Saying that the industry had a long way to go, the O21 director encouragingly said that there were a whole lot of talented people out there, waiting to showcase their skills.

Moor, O21 and Jalaibi have been edited by Rizwan AQ from Sharp Image,” he said, adding that, “Sourath Behan is editing Downward Dog and more people are also due to come in.

“It is a fresh start. Like I said earlier, it is not a revival but a complete reconstruction of the industry. We need more cinemas, honest people in the censor, production and distribution boards who do not jeopardise any Pakistani or Indian film.”

Praising upcoming filmmakers and students of filmmaking, Jami appreciated what he said were the efforts put in by students of the University of Karachi towards the varsity's film-related programs.

“They have created a very powerful system which has given way for strong filmmakers — we are roping in a few of them as well,” Jami said. “We will give them a budget and equipment to make a feature film in a year or more,” he added.


‘A good film connects with the audience’


For Jami, a good film connects with the audiences it seeks to target.

“Some people hated O21 but there were also people who loved it ... it's all about connecting with the audiences. At the time of its release, Shawshank Redemption was a huge flop but it went on to enjoy great popularity,” he reflected.

“It connects with me every time I see it; it's a powerful film. But it may not have connected with the audiences back in the day.”

Talking about his upcoming projects, the O21 director said that the production of Moor, Downward Dog and another film Supari No 1 have been keeping him immensely busy.

Interestingly, Jami has not watched two of Pakistan's most successful cinematic-hits of last year and was unafraid to say what the reasons were.

“I haven’t seen Waar due to ethical reasons. Na Maloom Afraad is not my kind of film because of its item number,” he said.