Wabaal Director Amin Iqbal In the Hotseat As He Answers Our Questions On What Went Wrong With The Narrative, Why We Can’t Spot The Mahum-Hammad Chemistry, Who’s Most Hungry On the Set & Who is Very Particular About Her Wardrobe?
Director Amin Iqbal has given us the likes of Ishq e laa this past year – a stellar project that enabled drama makers to see direction through a brand new lens, refreshing camera angles and riveting story telling. So when Wabaal appeared on the radar, we were sure this one’s going to be a winner as well. With writing by Qaisera Hayat (who had, incidentally, also gifted us Ishq e laa), we were expecting fireworks.
However, things became a tad rocky for this very promising narrative. But let’s begin at the beginning, I thought, so I asked the man at the helm of affairs,
What made you say yes to Wabaal?
I received this script in between other work that had occupied me so I didn’t get time to scan it properly, however, I did know that the drama was dealing with the issue of borrowing and giving out loans on unjustifiably high interest rates. That and knowing that Qaisera Hayat had penned it made me say yes to the project.
Casting – The idea of casting Sara and Talha together?
Sara Khan and Talha Chahour came to mind and luckily, they were both available. Sara showed great interest in the script and Talha had already proven his talent in earlier projects, he is dedicated and hard working and I knew he’d support the project fully. I knew I could help him to do well.
So far so good, I said to myself, now on to the harder questions, the tough ones that are hard to ask as they are to answer! So, I dive right in!
The story of Anam
Do you think she could have been shown slightly less selfish so we keep some sympathy for her and we can relate and understand her desire to have the good things in life? I asked. Anam is the young girl who could have resonated with so many ambitious young girls today, but sadly, things went horribly south for her.
But the director had a very sensitive take to her story.
“On Anam, I feel that those children who grow up with a sense of deprivation, that experience makes them very ruthless. And till they don’t learn their lesson in very harsh terms, they often don’t learn. Anam, since she was young, never really matured mentally or became wise and hence, became a victim of all her desires and wants. That, coupled with being the elder one in the family gave her a sense of entitlement. Both these things together will bring about her downfall. They say that if a person is mature, or sharp, then they learn before the hardest fall, but here, Anam lacks wisdom and maturity, hence her lesson will only be learnt the hard way.”
Oh Anam, I fear for you now, and I can see things not happening the way you had dreamed of! That coupled with her parents forcefully marrying her offf is probably the reason for her ultimate downfall! (can’t excuse bad parenting there, and I won’t)!
I move on to the male narrative:
Wabaal’s messages with husband goals
I pressed on to inquire: Faraz and Hammad are so refreshing. But as we see Hammad getting a thoughtful, considerate life partner, we see Faraz being taken for granted by Anam. Do you feel viewers are reacting – aise mardon ke saath aisa hi hota hai.
The director explained his POV:
“Faraz is a village boy and when he meets a city girl, it is also a first for him, he also fell for the new experience of meeting a girl like Anam whom he had never met before – that she was vocal, and had an opinion probably excited him, but when he got married, he probably didn’t realize he couldn’t handle her. I feel Faraz’s story reached audiences very well. ” Responded the director. Aha, I thought, I actually hadn’t thought that Faraz and Anam are more similar than apart. Where she wanted all the luxuries in life, he wanted a young, city girl who spoke her mind, unlike the parallels he saw in his village. That go tme wondering if a brief back story of Faraz might have helped me understand him better? But the poor boy was in love, and pyaar deewaana hota hai, as we all know, hence the rose colored glasses he wore every time the spell of Anam captivated him in a crazy kind of love!
Amin sahib goes on to explain, and very humbly:
“It was perhaps Maham’s story that slipped from my grasp. And I take the blame for that. If I had read the script and discussed it a bit more in detail, I felt we were not fair with Maham’s character. But I do feel that the message is reaching viewers who are responding to me, people who did not know me are messaging me and the views are very promising. It is true that serious topics might not get the views and this is my learning how I must make such topics more interesting for viewers.”
But does Maham even know how to have fun? I questioned. Still disappointed by that one!
“Maham’s character perhaps was a bit lacking in it’s writing, I agree. But in her defence, she took on responsibility since her elder sister couldn’t. Hence she even got married with the condition that her husband will live with her parents”. But Yes, he agrees. |It would have been better if Maham had more shades to her.”
An Anam and the lack of greyness in her character, he had this to say:
“I believe characters are grey but that only happens when people see their desires being fulfilled. And if you notice, when Anam does see things going her way, she takes on a grey shade but then she is immature and thinks she is very wise. Hence he character represents many young girls who might be naive, and unwise like her (many are wiser of course) – these are the young girls Anam represents. “
Fair enough, I thought. And then he said something very powerful.
“I believe in the grey shade of life, and never want that shade to die in my story telling. Sometimes I fail to let viewers see it, sometimes I succeed. I also feel that it is important to look at a character not just keeping your own experiences in mind, but others too. It is important to not fear the trolling and roasting that your work might be susceptible to. But yes, if your message doesn’t reach the masses, you must learn from your experience. Sometimes we are limited in our execution
Do you think Wabaal suffered from not being able to pick up the sub plots?
Was I being relentless here? Or just plain disappointed in a narrative that had so much potential. But Amin sahib continued to answer me graciously.
“Shagufta’s character should have been the hero of the story, that is how I saw it. The sub plot should have been better connected, I agree, the stories were not connected as we would have liked them to. “
But there were some memorable BTS moments on the sets
And the director gave us a flavour:
“Saleem Shaikh would make us laugh a lot throughout. He can’t stay without making us laugh. Maham, Merub was always hungry on the sets and Sara was very particular about her wardrobe. Everyone would come to the set on time.”
Amin Iqbal goes on to reflect on his work and journey – something we all must do.
“I used to be a director who would lose his cool, but I’ve realized that it is better to keep calm. When we get angry we hand over our self control to someone else, so now I’m chill. But I do get upset if we take our job for granted. There are many people in our industry who work very hard and make a whole lot of sacrifices, from actors, especially female actors, as well as spot boys, technicians, who are challenged in society every step of the way, for choosing this field purely because it is their passion.”
He went on to remind us just how hard it is to work in the entertainment industry as a woman & how he attempts to facilitate their efforts
“Our female actors not only have to display their talent and work hard but also have to uphold and protect their self image, society does not give them the respect they deserve and they have to be very careful that their career and actions do not affect their future life decisions. Society is very hypocritical towards female actors. “
So keeping all that in mind, I want to take everyone together on our journey.
On the challenges of being a Pakistani Drama director
“We look towards NAPA for our new actors, unfortunately we don’t have a supply line for trained actors. NAPA gives us actors who are used to performing on stage, not on TV, so we often end up training on the set. If there is anything lacking in performances for new actors, it is mine (the director’s) fault.”
I have to say, Amin Iqbal sahib floored me with his humble attitude and the self reflection he puts into his projects. His words struck a chord and made me realize that challenges are sometimes, hard to overcome, but the learning is essential to drive better projects in future!
He goes on to explain.
“It is hard sometimes to get people to improvise and to match acting abilities when you are working with the talent you have – I was challenged at some places. But yes, this track was mishandled at times and I feel it has been unfair to the actors involved as well.”
And that’s it from the Wabaal conversation. tell us what you loved about the drama and if you too, got a fresh perspective on the relentless efforts put into, and challenges encountered by drama makers behind the scenes as we watch the drama unfold on our television screens at home.