The one common thing that all good films share, irrespective of the genre, is a good script. Without a strong script, not even a star-studded cast can rescue the prospect of a film. Therefore, the role of writers is not to be diminished when talking about a film.
One such example is a soon to be released Pakistani film called Saawan. Written by Mashood Qadri who has taken great care to pen a film that caters to issues that affect children and adults in this country, Saawan follows the story of a nine-year-old child who struggles with the disease of polio. It is about his journey in life that includes encountering other children who become his best friends. It is also about a mother who loves her child unconditionally.
The titular role in Saawan is essayed by child artist Syed Karam Hussain
The titular role is essayed by child artist Syed Karam Hussain who is joined by an ensemble cast in the movie that includes names like Saleem Mairaj, Arif Bahalim, Najiba Faiz, Imran Aslam, Tipu Sharif, Hafeez Ali, Sehrish Qadri, Muhammad Abbas, Danial Yunus and Mehek Zulfiqar, among others.
Shot in the outskirts of Skardu and in the northern areas of Pakistan, Saawan is directed by Farhan Alam and features the work of internationally known artists including the editor, Aseem Sinha, and Hollywood-based music producer, Emir Isilay.
The soundtrack of the film features the inimitable Akhtar Chanal Zahri, who counts Balochistan as home and recently joined forces with Zohaib Kazi for his Fanoos project. Known for his thrilling performances on Coke Studio among other things, Zahri makes his presence felt with that rich, big voice and compliments the visual landscape of the film in harmonious fashion.
Prior to its release in Pakistan, Saawan has managed to pick up three prestigious international awards including Best Film and Best Director at Social World Film Festival 2017, held in Italy last month.
With the film set to release in the country on September 15 under the banner of Geo Films, Instep spoke to writer and co-producer Mashood Qadri about what went into the making of the film. Here is an excerpt from that conversation…
Writer and co-producer Mashood Qadri
Instep: Congratulations on winning so many awards for Saawan. Did you ever think, while writing the film, that it would win awards on an international stage?
Mashood Qadri (MQ): Thanks! Honestly, no I did not though I wrote the script with a passion and knew it would be a big hit on the box office. Once the film was complete, the finished product gave us confidence to contest in such festivals.
Instep: Is Saawan your first film?
MQ: No, I wrote Riyasat Mae Riyasat (RMR) as my first film. It was shot in one room. RMR has won three international awards including Best Screenplay and Best Film Story.
Instep: You are a doctor by profession; how did you end up as a writer?
MQ: Medical profession is my first duty. Writing is my passion and I guess it runs in the family. My father was a great writer but sacrificed his hobby as he was the only breadwinner in the family. My grandfather, Maulana Hamid Badayuni, was a scholar, writer and poet.
Instep: How is Saawan different from other films?
MQ: Saawan is based on realism for one thing. Plus, while many new films have been made in Pakistan in recent years, films that feature children as lead characters are too few and far in between. Saawan features an ensemble cast that comprises five child actors and all of them have done a phenomenal job.
Instep: Does the film draw inspiration from real-life stories?
MQ: Yes, Saawan is based on the true story of a child who is a victim of polio. Furthermore, I want to add that the film aims to highlight the injustices in our society particularly in regard to children who suffer from a disability.
Instep: Tell us about the writing process of Saawan. What are some of the topics you have explored as a writer?
MQ: The script caters to adults and children. It is family-friendly. One central theme is that of polio awareness. The mission is to promote understanding and remove misconceptions surrounding polio vaccination that can ultimately lead to polio eradication in this country. Other subjects explored in the film include the water crisis, child trafficking and the bravery of our women.
It is ultimately about the power of hope, love and above all, compassion for others.