Cinema Will Survive In Pakistan: Hassan Zia – Paperazzi

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ZEE5 Global, the largest OTT platform for South Asian Content, recently announced the winners of its 2021 Global Content Festival. The contest announced 15 winners and among them a Pakistani short film ‘Fruit Chaat’ secured the third place.

Singapore-based independent filmmaker Shilpa K Shukla has emerged as the Global Content Festival Winner with 3 entries in the Drama films category ([email protected], Tashi and Dots) while Love Beyond Boundaries, a collection of incredible love stories by Filmmakers Ruchi Undevia and Aarti Trikannad (Dubai) got runner up position.

Fruit Chaat t is written and produced by Tanzila Khan, who has also played the lead role of Shabana while Moiz Abbas has directed it. The film highlights the hopes of Shabana, a newly-minted yet disabled graduate girl in Pakistan looking for opportunities, and all the limitations that society imposes on her encapsulated in a funny, heart-warming story.

The Daily Paperazzi reached to this young and talented duo
and asked them about their project and winning it contest.

Q Why did you name it Fruit Chaat?

Tanzila- Fruit Chaat happens to be a very cultural thing in
Pakistan. It has a typical flavour and colour. That is exactly what the
character of Shabana is implying, ‘I am much more than what the world perceives
me as. As a disabled person or a woman, I can create something so beautiful
like Fruit Chaat and can take care of every relationship.” 

Moiz – Just like a plate of Fruit Chaat, this film has many underlying flavours. When we make this into a series or a sequel, the audience will see the relevance of the name.

Q What was the inspiration behind the character of Shabana?

Tanzila – Shabana represents a very important segment of the
society that is women, and a woman born with disabilities. It was very
important to highlight what a woman with such disabilities can go through the
life in Pakistan and in South Asian countries to be precise. She has the same
desires and wishes as any normal girl and her disabilities amplify her
experience but do not make her an odd one out.

Moiz – The Inspiration behind the character of Shabana is Tanzila Khan herself because Shabana is Tanzila Khan and Tanzila Khan is Shabana in Fruit Chaat. It’s a story of Tanzila Khan in reality, just like the character she managed to complete her graduation sitting in a wheelchair and was treated the same way as the HR treated Shabana, when she was looking out for a job. Ultimately, Tanzila opened her start-up named Girly Things which is operated throughout the country.

Q Do you think that your short film encompasses the message of women empowerment?

Tanzila –I think the first thing that we need to do, is to
humanize women, give them the due credit for the contributions they have made
and then the empowerment will sprout out in its own way. A woman has same
ambitions, dreams that a man would have, and she should seek the same respect
for whatever work she does. It could be housework, or being a great mother at home
or a good boss in the office. Just allow women to be themselves and that what I
think is empowerment.

Moiz – Yes, definitely. Our movie gives out a very clear message of women empowerment and states that no matter whatever the situation is, you can always conquer, and it has nothing to do with your gender. It is about women empowerment, her education, entrepreneurship and other choices in life. What you see Shabana, a hijabi girl completing her graduation on a wheelchair and also appearing for an interview where the panel tries to dominate and neglect her, simply because of her disabilities and gender but she paves her way to victory in the university and the interview as well. This is where she gets the Idea of entrepreneurship and decides to open her fruit stall where she sells fruit Chaat. It is all about how we want to see our women progress in society.

Q Why did you prefer the genre of comedy and satire for your film?

Tanzila- As a woman with a disability, I have been through a
lot of ups and downs but keep myself sane because of my sense of humour with
myself. I think comedy is a tool for improvement and getting through the
challenges in life. Comedy is my way of life; it is my choice. I like people to
understand the humor that I have and also simultaneously understand my
experiences through that.

Moiz- Whenever we have talked about disabled people, we have portrayed them in the way that their lives are miserable and they are depressed all the time, which is not right. We have an example of Tanzila Khan, and Ms Mizaari, though are on a wheelchair, they seem happy. However, ups and downs are an inevitable part of everybody’s life regardless of the fact if they are physically disabled or not. We have drawn the character of Shabana from the life of Tanzila, and you will witness how happy and empowered that character is. We wanted to give out the message that Shabana can not only sell fruits but can also make good Fruit Chaat and do several other tasks just like a normal person. She made sure that her disability does not come in between her dreams.

Q How long did it take to shoot your short film and where was it shot?

Tanzila- It took us a day to shoot the entire film. We did
the auditions a day before and had some training sessions the same day. The
shoot was divided in three locations; one was in office, other was Al-Humara
Community Center for Arts in Lahore, and the third location was just a roadside
Fruit Chaat stall.

Moiz- Being an independent filmmaker in Pakistan, it was really very difficult. When we approached big production houses for help, they all neglected us by saying there is no point in this script or the film to be made. We had a firm belief in the story since the beginning so decided to make it ourselves. Tanzila started to collect funds for the movie and after a yearlong planning we were in a situation, where we could take it to the floors. We shot this 11 minutes long film in just 15 hours at different locations of Lahore.

Q Tell us about sending and winning this film to the Zee5 Global Content Contest Festival?

Tanzila- Initially, we had shared this film with ZEE5 Global
to be aired on 3rd December which is the international day of disabled people.
They saw some spark in the film and pushed it into their Global Content
Festival which was happening around the same time. We provided them with all
the necessary details and were not expecting further contact from them at all,
but very soon received words of being shortlisted. The final excitement came
when we were told about our inclusion in winner’s list. It became so much
valuable for all of a sudden. The entire idea of being an international contest
winner, and India recognizing talent from Pakistan was a great feeling. Last
but not the least, the disability got the space that it deserved. One billion
people in the world are having disabilities and it’s a huge number. So, having
that artistic expression, presenting disability and winning, it’s a huge win
for all those one billion people. We have also paved the way for independent
filmmakers to work on more varied concepts.

Moiz- One of my friends tagged me in a post and on opening I
realized it was about ZEE5 Global Content Festival. I then decided to send our
film in this without any second thought. I had a belief that we will win as our
dedication in the project was at 100%. Winning it was such a nice feeling. I
feel that more such Global Content Festivals like the one with ZEE5 should be
conducted, as they give a big platform to independent film makers like me to
show case their work. I am grateful to the whole team of ZEE5. 

All the winning films are being streamed on ZEE5 and free to
watch for viewers across the globe at http://bit.ly/ZEE5GCFWinners.

To watch these films, the ZEE5 app can be downloaded from
the Google Play Store or the iOS App Store. The app is also available on
Samsung Smart TV, Apple TV, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV. ZEE5 is also
available on www.ZEE5.com.