Art is our resistance: Shailja Kejriwal on creating Pakistani series for Zindagi
Since then, there have been two other Zindagi Originals, Ek Jhoothi Love Story and Dhoop Ki Deewar.Their latest offering is the noir anthology series Qatil Haseenaon Ke Naam, to be helmed by British-Indian director Meenu Gaur.In an interview with PTI, Kejriwal said it is a victory for the team and for her, at a personal level, that they have been able to put up a slate despite the history between the two countries.It is heartening to see that with all the stuff going around, we have never stopped even for a day.
Despite the constant political tension between India and Pakistan, it is heartening that artistes on both sides of the border are ready to collaborate and not get caught up in the geopolitics of the countries, says Shailja Kejriwal, Chief Creative Officer – Special Projects, Zee Entertainment.
Last year, Kejriwal re-launched the brand Zindagi to produce content for the over-the-top (OTT) platform. The channel had paved the way for the immense popularity of Pakistani stars like Fawad Khan, Sanam Saeed and Mahira Khan by curating their hit dramas ''Zindagi Gulzar Hai'' and ''Humsafar'' upon its launch in 2014.
After the Uri attack in 2016, however, Zindagi dropped serials from the neighbouring country.
The phase two of Zindagi was launched with the 2020 acclaimed series ''Churails'', helmed by filmmaker Asim Abbasi. Since then, there have been two other Zindagi Originals, ''Ek Jhoothi Love Story'' and ''Dhoop Ki Deewar''.
In an interview with PTI, Kejriwal said it is a victory for the team and for her, at a personal level, that they have been able to put up a slate despite the history between the two countries.
''It is heartening to see that with all the stuff going around, we have never stopped even for a day. Personally, that has been amazing for me. Sitting here in Mumbai, trying to do something over there, you always feel what is the right thing to say, what is the right thing to do when stuff is going on. ''But we have just functioned as artistes. Of course we have conversations (about what is happening), we can't stay away from it but we also believe that as artistes, it is our job to get beyond this and create something together. That's our resistance,'' she said.
The upcoming original is headlined by Pakistani stars like Saeed, ''Churails'' actors Sarwat Gilani and Mehar Bano, Ahsan Khan, Osman Khalid Butt, Sheheryar Munawar, Saleem Mairaj, Samiya Mumtaz, Faiza Gillani, Beo Raana Zafar and Eman Suleman.
While all Zindagi Originals have been helmed by Pakistani makers -- featuring Pakistani actors -- ''Qatil Haseenaon Ke Naam'' is the first time the team has collaborated with an Indian origin director to lead the project. Post the Uri attack in September 2016, several film bodies in India had called for a ban on Pakistani artistes.
Fawad, whose Bollywood career was on the rise post his massive success on TV shows, had to discontinue working in the Hindi film industry post ''Ae Dil Hai Mushkil'', which was released less than a month after the attack. His frequent collaborator, Mahira, also faced resistance with her Bollywood debut ''Raees'' in 2017, marking the end of her film career here.
''It really seemed impossible, when we started our production out of Pakistan and it seems equally impossible for a Pakistani director to be working in India. But honestly, I plan to break that as well in the next year. It is also for the want of trying. ''When I started doing this, everybody said it was crazy. But here we are. If you really believe in it and try with sincerity, it will happen. The situation does worry me for sure but also excites me. If you are not living on the edge you are taking up too much space. There's a lot of excitement when you try something new.'' The producer said she strives to marry the art of India and Pakistan and feels she has been successful thanks to artistes, who are ready to collaborate with each other. ''It is hard to try and get the right blend. I am extremely passionate about bringing this blend to the viewers. There have been ups and downs (between the nations), but it has been a blessing that the artistes on both sides kept doing what we set out to do, without really bothering about geopolitics,'' she added.
With her latest, ''Qatil Haseenaon Ke Naam'', Kejriwal said the series offered the opportunity to deal with women's issues through a female gaze with a ''stylised and interesting'' narrative. The series is written by Farjad Nabi and Gaur.
According to the makers, the series is a compilation of six stories of seven women, who wrest back control and ''redefine the word femme fatale''. Each story from the anthology depicts the fearlessness of women and their determination to avenge deceit.
Kejriwal said the success of ''Churails'' -- which earned praise, particularly for its portrayal of intersectional feminism -- empowered her to back more stories fearlessly.
''We started writing 'Qatil Haseenaon Ke Naam' long before 'Churails' was shot, the writing process took a while. It is important for me to tell women stories from their perspective, either by women or allies... The acceptance of 'Churails' just emboldened me to go a little step further and pull no stops,'' she added. ''Qatil Haseenaon Ke Naam'' is set to premiere on December 10 on ZEE5.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)