MAG THE WEEKLY | INTERVIEW
Up, Up AND Away!
by OMAIR ALAVI
05 - 11 Mar, 2016
#content
Up, Up AND Away!

She came, she saw and she conquered; that’s Fizza Ali Meerza for you. From nowhere she came and not only did she produce the successful flick Na Maloom Afraad (NMA) but also co-wrote it along with the director. That film helped usher a change in Pakistan and the revival is indebted to the makers of NMA. That was a couple of years ago and now she is back with another venture – Actor In Law. But who is this Fizza Ali Meerza and how did she manage to achieve so much in such little time? MAG got hold of the film-maker and talked to her about her mysterious past, magnificent present and glorious future. Excerpts:

For women in Pakistan, acting is showbiz; they don’t want to venture into other departments, yet you did. How did you join the industry in the first place?
I started my career as a production assistant and then moved my way up by first becoming an assistant director, then an art director, and later a director. For Na Maloom Afraad, I became a writer and a producer as well. It has been a long journey but worth taking and I am glad that I decided to do what I wanted to do. As far as acting and film-making are concerned, I chose the latter since I believe that acting is just one part of the film experience; making a film is a process which continuously trains you in all areas.


First Na Maloom Afraad, now Actor In Law... how do you come up with innovative ideas?
Every teller wants to tell an interesting story; it’s the same case with me and Nabeel (Qureshi) as we want to share stories that we enjoy narrating. What better way to do that than to make a film on stories that should at least be interesting for the audience? As a writing team, we just come up with what we think should appeal to the masses and that’s what makes us different; others plan to look for ideas while we don’t. Every concept requires its own nurturing and care and it is only a job well done when the writer and director are in sync and have lots of passion with intense ownership for the project.


Wasn't it difficult to convince people for working with you in NMA, since you had done little work before that?
NMA was lucky in every aspect; since it was the first commercial film of the new-age Pakistani cinema, it was well-received by the actors. Not once do I remember that any of our actors had given us any kind of trouble throughout the project. This only happens when the people working for you have an equal amount of belief in the project.

Writing and producing are different things; how do you manage them both at the same time?
Writing is my passion as it makes me live in my creative world till the script is finalised, whereas producing it brings the pride of making our dreams come alive. I think it’s a perfect combo since it keeps me creatively connected with the project.


Is it difficult or easy being a woman producer in our environment?
Being a woman ‘whatever’ is not at all difficult in any environment. God has designed women to perform fully in any given milieu. Even in the film industry, we now have a long list of women who are working in different capacities – from directors, art directors, producers, writers to actresses and playback singers. I am certain that in this revival of films, women will have a huge role to play – both behind or in front of the camera.


Bollywood veteran Om Puri is working in your upcoming film Actor In Law; how did you make it possible?
Mr. Om Puri is without a doubt one of the best actors born in India. The idea to approach him was not to bring in a commercial catch to begin with. While penaing this character, Nabeel and I thought of him as a perfect match, so I started contacting him and the whole process of sending him the script (to India) took place. Fortunately he liked the storyline and agreed to do it and trust me, the audience will not be disappointed at all.


What's Actor in Law about?
Actor in Law is about all of us; it will be the first social comedy of the new-age Pakistani cinema. Like NMA, it has a lot of relatable ground for each one of us. There is Fahad Mustafa and Mehwish Hayat in the lead while Alyy Khan, Rehan Sheikh and many others are part of it as well.

Na Maloom Afraad has now become Pakistan's official entry into Netflix. How do you feel about that?
Our vision is to take Pakistani films on the universal platform in every possible way; NMA coming on Netflix is one of the first steps.

What do you have to say about the successful partnership with Nabeel Qureshi the director? You two were behind Billi as well.
Nabeel and I have come a long way; we spent our struggling days together and have seen both the bad and the good days hence, the chemistry is to cherish. As for Billi, yes, we wrote the song but the contribution of music director Shani Haider is considered valuable who made the tune sound better and catchy.


Who are the people you would like to work with in the future?
It’s very difficult to name anyone as it is the story itself that would dictate its own cast. We never choose actors for the characters but let the characters choose the actors.

 

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