Teeli hopes to create relatable entertainment for Pakistan's urban youth

Updated 01 Nov, 2017 04:01pm

Images Staff

It's more than just viral videos, people!

The latest entertainment company to make waves on Facebook is a band of funny people who come together under the moniker 'Teeli'.

Teeli first gained popularity in June this year with the hilarious Darzi ki Marzi, their take on tailor tantrums during the Eid rush. Since then, the group has been slowly but steadily making itself known for scripted comedy that Pakistanis can easily relate to.

With their latest video Disappointed Dads Helpline, Teeli's puts a comical spin on desi dads' expectations of their sons.

Images got in touch with Teeli's COO Wali Tirmizi to find out more about what the group's up to.

Images: In a nutshell, what is Teeli?

Wali Tirmizi: We’re a digital entertainment company. Our mandate is simple: to create video content for Pakistan’s urban youth.

Images: Who's the team behind Teeli?

Wali: We’re actually a Dawn Media Group company. The management and ownership of the group have a highly ambitious vision for what they want to achieve in the digital space — and Teeli is one such effort in realising that vision.

Meet the team behind Teeli! L-R, Arbab Hussain, Faheem Azam, Wali Tirmizi, Muhammad Murtaza, Shaanay Mansur
Meet the team behind Teeli! L-R, Arbab Hussain, Faheem Azam, Wali Tirmizi, Muhammad Murtaza, Shaanay Mansur

We’re a relatively small team currently, comprising mainly of filmmakers and writers. The end-to-end production of all content is done in-house. There are a number of freelancers and contributors we work with as well. We’ve recently expanded and are still expanding the team in areas like brand partnerships, concept development, and production coordination.

Images: What sets Teeli apart from other local content studios that are making viral videos and/or content for corporates?

Wali: For starters, the idea is to do much, much more than simply “viral videos”. We’re working on introducing a full suite of programming, comprising of multiple formats and at varying lengths. So everything from bite-sized series to longer narratives. The sketch series you’re seeing currently is just one of those shows.

The youth of this country has been deprived of quality entertainment content for a long time, and we see the objective of Teeli to change that and to set the benchmark for what constitutes quality content in the market. We believe with the vision we have for the product, the team we’ve put together, and the Dawn Media Group as our backers, we’re better suited than anyone to deliver on this — and are already seeing results.

Having said that, I think all new-media entertainment companies in Pakistan operate more or less on the same premise, which is that traditional media hasn’t and still isn’t serving the entertainment needs of Pakistan’s youth.

Behind the scenes of Teeli's Darzi Ki Marzi shoot
Behind the scenes of Teeli's Darzi Ki Marzi shoot

What sets our content apart, currently, in my opinion, are two things: One is our complete and total focus on story and the strength of the narrative in our content. We take it very seriously and spend a huge chunk of our time on that. Of course, each platform and medium has its own particular list of necessary ingredients, but at the end of the day, regardless of how and where you’re distributing, the story reigns supreme.

Number two, we refuse to compromise on quality and work tirelessly to ensure that from casting to art direction, no stone is left unturned.

A lot of people say our production quality sets us apart, but I don’t consider that to be much of a differentiator. The efficacy of production quality is highly subjective and is in no way or form a guarantee of success when it comes to digital. And anyway, as time progresses, we’re seeing most content creators ramping up their production quality.

Images: Where do you find your actors?

Wali: There’s no one set way. We work very hard at finding the right actors for the role. By now we’ve worked with complete amateurs, stand up comics, theatre actors, and TV actors as well. You see most content creators having a steady cast of in-house actors, but that model doesn’t really work for us currently.

Teeli COO Wali Tirmizi says that the company plans to launch a number of new shows in the coming months
Teeli COO Wali Tirmizi says that the company plans to launch a number of new shows in the coming months

Images: What big things are we going to see from Teeli in the next six months?

Wali: Our focus in the first six months has been to get the brand out there through what we see as differentiated content. I wish I could go into specifics, but broadly, the goal for the next six will be to launch a launch a number of new shows. It's very important for our brand that we provide only quality content to our audience and we don’t want to sacrifice that [by] chasing quantity.