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Behind every successful woman there is a man: Atiya Zaidi

Chalay Thay Saath is an upcoming Pakistani film directed by Umer Adil with Sheikh Shiraz Mubashir as the Executive Producer. Filmed in the Hunza region of Gilgit-Baltistan, Chalay Thay Saath is set for countrywide release on April 21, 2017.

This scribe conducted an interview of Atiya Zaidi, the writer of this movie. Here she shared about her first experience of writing a feature film for Pakistan cinema 

Q1) What makes a great script?

Compelling stories and characters. There are so many elements that build on each other. A compelling story line will lead to an exciting screenplay which will give way to memorable dialogues and characters. 
Atiya Zaidi, the writer of Chalay Thay Sath

Q2) Is there a formula for storytelling?

Yes there are formulas in terms of the three act or five act structure and the acts being mirrors of each other leading to transformation of characters and plots, the hero's journey, the story arcs. There are definite tools at a writer's disposal but having a pencil doesn't make everyone an illustrator. There are writers around the world who never knew about any formulas and yet have produced timeless stories. Read and learn the formulas and structures etc but don't let that be the starting point of your story. 

Q3) Why some movies grab audience attention while other don’t?

Honestly no one has been able to give an answer to this. It’s not the cast, the director, the producer or the story individually. All of these have to come together. Hollywood studios are known to do all kinds of research and tests to ensure that the movies will be a hit yet we hear of million dollar productions that bomb and something as unlikely as Blair Witch Project become a hit. 

Q4) What are your future plans?

I am more of a live for today kind of a person. If tomorrow comes we will deal with it tomorrow. I don't have any screenplays in the pipeline right now but there are talks. 

Q5) How you describe your experience of writing script for Chalay Thay Sath ?

I remember not sleeping much as I have a full time job which could be very demanding. It was a thrilling and focused experience where I had to set my own goals every day. Most of the days I didn't end up writing at all and at times I had to force myself to start typing again, later I would go back and delete all I had written forcefully but it kept the writing going. 

Q6) How writing a feature film’s script different from writing scripts of TVC and documentaries

Its very different. When you are working on a TVC or documentary the points of the story are clearly defined and the objectives are set before a single word is written down. In a film script its more of a journey, you might not arrive at the point which you were aiming for instead you will find yourself in a much more alluring destination. 

Q7) Do you develop story of Chalay Thay Sath on your own or you develop it after getting input from director and producer?

The best thing about writing this film was Beenish (Producer), Umer(Director)  and myself were on the same wavelength from the start. We are similar kind of people and at times that was worrying and then we will reach out to other people to get their point of view. Faris also gave us some valuable input in the writing. Of course the Assistant Directors and production team went over it with a fine tooth comb and revisions were made by them too. 

Q8) How was your experience of visiting Hunza?

When Umer and Beenish approached me about writing a movie set in Hunza, I told them I have never been to the place. We immediately decided in this first meeting to go on a story hunt to Hunza. The place is magical. The folklore, the culture, the history of the land and of course the scenery takes your breath away. We went again to finish the story and share it with the locals and then of course we went for the shoot. 

Q9) How you see the future of Pakistan cinema industry?

There is a lot of potential in our country specially when it comes to storytelling. We have produced some world renowned writers and unlike any other field related to creativity we have role models like Manto, Mohsin Hamid, Anwar Maqsood, Mohammad Hanif, Bajia, Amjad Islam Amjad, Haseena Moin and so many more to look up to. Now with more and more kids getting degrees in filmmaking and production we have more upcoming stars. The most important thing is to have a consciousness about any creation. Quentin Tarantino has famously claimed that he will only make 10 films in his career so that he can be super choosy about which project to pick. While we might not need to be that stringent but we should have ideals about the work we produce and strive to achieve them. 

Q10) How you balance your personal and professional life considering that you are wearing many caps at a time?

It’s because of support. If a spouse is not going to provide back up and help out with the day to day, no woman can go forward in her career. Behind every successful woman there is a man who is standing by her successes and consoling her failures. It could be the dad, the brother, the son or the husband, in the end of the day women would need validation from their families. Stand by the girls and don't be insecure about standing in their shadows. 

Q11) How you felt when you were approach to write the script for Chalay Thay Sath

It was very humbling to be considered for such a big responsibility and the fact that Umer, Beenish and Shiraz believed that I could do this. It was exciting and scary at the same time. Exactly what I am feeling before the release of the film. Anxious. 

Q12) Tell about your education?

I have a degree from Karachi University in Mass communication and Bachelors in Design for Communication from the Chelsea College of Arts and Design, London, England. I also did a course on screen writing with Aaron Sorkin. 

Q13) Tell about your birth place and your family?

I was born in Karachi and was raised in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. My parents and two of my siblings live in Texas and another sister lives in Canada. I am the only sibling in Pakistan and I am more than happy to be here. 

Q14) What advice you can give to an aspiring writer?

If you want to be a writer, write and of course read. There is a myth of creativity prevailing in the world that we feel that not everyone is creative. Which is a lie. We are all capable up of coming up with elaborate excuses and learn how to creatively manage the people around us. Writing is a craft, as babies we all have the same learning curves. First you learn to speak words then you create sentences. And we become masters of our craft only when we practice a skill again and again. All writing is rewriting. Pick up a pencil, a typewriter, a lap top or even a crayon and write. 

1 comment:

  1. Interesting interview!! This movie seens different from mainstream romantic flicks which makes it more promising!! Can't wait for its release and go watch it in the cinema 😊