Instep Today

In conversation with Shazia Ali Khan

Instep Today
By Buraq Shabbir
Sat, 04, 19

In a recent interview during the UK Asian Film Festival 2019, the Dubai based writer-director spoke about her debut film Pinky Memsaab and what it means for indie filmmakers to showcase their work on a global platform.

Dubai based writer-director Shazia Ali Khan made a film called Pinky Memsaab that released in Pakistan and Dubai in December last year. Featuring Kiran Malik, Hajra Yamin, Adnan Jaffer and Sunny Hinduja in key roles, the film was set in Dubai and followed the lives of four individuals as they explored themselves as well as their surroundings.

Pinky Memsaab may not have been a huge success commercially but the film made it to multiple international platforms including the recently concluded 21st UK Asian Film Festival. The film was screened at the Closing Reception of the festival while it also won the Best Picture (Audience Choice) awards with the cast and director in attendance.

Speaking to the press during an interview at the UKAFF 2019, Shazia Ali Khan shared her experience at the event, why it is important for women to tell stories and how do global platforms help promote indie filmmakers.

“It was amazing. I think throughout the film I got so many reactions out of the audience – laughter, tears – and that’s what it is all about. Very well received, I can’t be happier,” she began.

When asked how important these events are for increasing the global reach and exposure of Asian cinema, she responded, “The United Kingdom has always been one of the most prestigious hangouts for filmmakers and, as important as it can be, this platform is a little unbiased when it comes to local cliques that operate all over the world. So it is strictly by merit, which is great because if you have got a good product, it doesn’t matter if you have come from a big production house or not.”

Responding to whether she is proud to be a part of this new wave where there is strong female presence in front of and behind the camera, she said, “I am so proud because for so many years, especially in South Asia, women have sort of taken the backseat. There have been big stars but not behind the cameras so I can’t be prouder today. It is good to see so many young female representatives from the fraternity.”

“I think women feel and see differently as compared to men,” she added. “And you know as important as it is to get a male point of view, it is always important to get a female perception or ideology across as well. That’s why it is important that women tell their stories too.”

Reflecting on who or what inspired her, she was quick to share that the reason she is a filmmaker is because of a lady named Mira Nair.

“She is originally from India but she has made world class cinema. I saw her film Monsoon Wedding many many years ago and that’s when I decided that I want to do this too. The reason I admire Miss Nair is that she created an art house film which was relatable to people all over the world and yet it had a very South Asian flavor to it. And hopefully, that’s what I aspire to do,” Shazia shared.

On a parting note, Shazia was asked about the importance of Netflix and similar platforms in reaching out to the rest of the world and engaging to a new market.

About her film Pinky Memsaab being globally available on Netflix for everyone to watch, Shazia stated, “There is a very simple answer to that. It is the money that you have. Indie filmmakers don’t have the money to distribute or market their films as well as they should. And then they are competing with mainstream cinema. So, it is platforms like Netflix that make it accessible to audiences. It is platforms and occasions like these which get them known so that people actually click on the button and watch it. I feel digital cinema and digital platforms are the future, especially for young filmmakers who want to break into the industry.”