Its all about ‘CHANGE’
Back in the early naughtiess private television in Pakistan was born, the first network brave enough too launch there own channel gave a chance to a number off new comers, some off them made an impact and the others faded away with time. Amongst the successful few was Azfar ali who after much struggle finally directed a hit Television sitcom ‘sub set hai’. ‘Sub set hai’ was one off a kind, it was truly something different, using slang words , breaking social taboos, was something the youth of Pakistan loved, one way or the other it offered hope to the rebels although the ending was somewhat disappointing. Sub set hai was followed up by something even more rebellious when Azfar Ali and Mani decided to take to the air waves, the success they had was phenomenal it start as an underground movement and spread around the city like wild fire. The initial period was very unstable jumping from one station to the other disappearing off the airwaves for absolutely ages but none off these seemed to have affected there fan following if anything it went from strength to strength. We caught up with Azfar to discuss the journey so and what role does he see art playing in Pakistan.
Q. Any philosophy behind you work?
i believe in changing outdated ideas and conventional boring techniques…i think we should all look on ahead and focus on ourselves more and on our very own orginality than to follow the west or the indians. i believe we are a unique nation and we are as ‘cool’ as anyone anywhere else.
Q. Its been nearly five years since you and mani took to the air waves, do you think you guys have made a difference at all if so how?
A. Yes we have or we’d never make it this far. Our job is to ask the relevant questions, questions that makes you think, we call that ‘planting the seed’ the rest is up to the listeners what they make out of it… we plant the ‘seed’ and the crop is nutured by the type of ‘soil’ that receives it.
Q. Is comedy in Pakistan flourishing or dying?
A. i wouldn’t say dying but yes it is being neglected. Its not easy to make people laugh so it requires a certain type of skill. i would say that particular skill is not being developed or groomed.
Q. Is art a luxury or a necessity for a society like Pakistan?
A. ‘Necessity’ for sure. Art is thoughts in translation. One beautiful thing art does is that it gives you an insight about how others think and see things so differently than you. If used effectively it can be a great tool in bridging gaps between the haves and have nots.
Q. Why have u never directed any music videos?
A. i have, back in 1994 to 1997, but i always wanted to make movies so i moved towards plays to learn more about scripting and directing.
Q. How can the copyrights issue be tackled in Pakistan?
A. Every issue in Pakistan is directly linked to lawlessness. We have laws but no one is interested in enforcing them. We need to crack down on pirates and implement the existing laws on them. This is one way of doing it.
Q. Is there a casting couch or any sort of corruption within the Pakistani television industry?
A. Yes there is….like in every Pakistani business industry!
Q. How important is training for an actor, or does experience count more?
A. Actors are people who can make a lie sound real. how much can you train for that is something no one knows. But the fact of the matter is that the more you lie the better you get at it, and you can do that with both training or experience.
Q. What is the most effective means to communicate a message to the audience would you say tv, radio or films?
A. I would say a “HIT.” regardless of wherever it is aired.
Q. I read somewhere that you have an idea or a script ready for a movie you want to direct what is holding you back?
A. To begin with, lack of cinema houses. Also,we just don’t money to make a film we also need funds to promote it. i dont want any of my producers to make a loss so till this country is ready to invest in films and promotions, i ‘m holding back.