Instep Today

“I think it is important to explore the digital market.”

Instep Today
By Buraq Shabbir
Wed, 07, 19

Mehreen Jabbar has a very unique way of storytelling; her work is natural and close to reality, without too much melodrama. Some of her notable projects for the big screen include Ramchand Pakistani and Dobara Phir Se while she has directed plays such as Mata e Jaan Hai Tu, Rehaai, Jackson Heights and others. Her most recent effort for television was Feroze Khan and Yumna Zaidi starrer Dil Kiya Karey – a multi-layered, progressive play – that concluded earlier this month.

“When I read the script of Dil Kiya Karey, the reason why it appealed to me was because it wasn’t run-of-the-mill and it dealt with so many progressive themes,” she recalled, in an exclusive interview with Instep. “It wasn’t like a lot of plot-changing by seconds and melodramatic one-layered characters, rather there were stories within stories with a lot of interesting women characters.”

“It might just be a conventional love story on the face of it but it actually wasn’t,” she continued. “It was about so many other things and that is why I agreed to do this project. It was a gentle unraveling and piece-by-piece exploration of characters and stories.”

Dil Kiya Karey, featured powerhouse performers such as Marina Khan, Shamim Hilaly, Sonia Rehman, Sarmad Khoosat and others. Written by Asma Nabeel and produced by Asad Qureshi and Abdullah Kadwani for Geo TV, it tackled numerous issues such as women empowerment, independence, freedom of speech, etc. and stayed away from stereotypical portrayals, which was a welcome change.

“All the women in the play weren’t just after men, and miserable and crying; the crying is mostly coming from the loss of someone i.e. death,” Mehreen explained, adding that it doesn’t matter if it generated ratings or not. “I really don’t look at ratings because I really don’t understand them. It was a job that was done with integrity; if people liked it, great, if they didn’t, they might like it in time. I don’t consider this as a benchmark.”

Dil Kiya Karey is not available on YouTube and those who couldn’t watch it when it aired on the channel don’t have access to it. When asked why, Mehreen responded that it was the producers’ call.

“I think they were planning to explore digital platforms,” she noted. “If you see, even in the US, the shows aren’t instantly available on YouTube. The problem is, YouTube is great for access but it doesn’t generate money for the producers.”

Though DKK was a good watch, it was slow paced and one often felt that the story wasn’t moving ahead.

“The market has changed very much; I don’t believe serials and stories should be slow paced or else, you lose audiences. That’s bad storytelling; you have to engage the audience. Even if it is a quiet story, you have to make it interesting.”

Moving on, Mehreen stressed that it is important to explore the digital space as she does not like the idea of an endless, 30-40 episodes TV serial.

She has been working on a web series that features Bilal Abbas Khan, Madiha Imam, Mohammad Ahmed, Beo Zafar and many others. Currently in post-production stage, the web series is penned by Umera Ahmed and is expected to release later this year, or may be in 2020.

Speaking of the upcoming web series, Mehreen revealed, “With Umera, it is always an incisive look at society even if it is not a social drama. It is a social drama but without it being too serious; there is humour but it is not a soap (opera) or a sitcom. It is a commentary on society but it is told in a very appealing and light-hearted way. I don’t think Umera has done a genre like this before.”

On a parting note, Mehreen maintained that she is also weighing her options for television as well as films. “At this stage in my career, it is very difficult to really find something that is exciting but there are a couple of projects that are developing,” she concluded.