LAHORE: Actor, producer and now director Anjum Shahzad is a known name in the entertainment industry. Shahzad rose to fame as Bobby in critically acclaimed comedy drama serial Family Front which earned him PTV Award of Best Debut Actor. With the passage of time he decided to move towards direction. He has to his credit hit drama serials like Mora Piya, Khuda Aur Muhabbat and Rang Laaga. He made his debut as film director in 2016 and made successful films like Mah-e-Mir, Zindage Kitne Haseen Hay & Armaan. Mah-e-Mir has been nominated for Oscar Awards. He has been awarded for the 3rd time the best TV Director at Lux Style Awards. In an exclusive interview with The Nation he talked about his career in the entertainment industry. Following are excerpts of the interview:

What is the most important lesson you learnt that has had a positive effect on your films?

I have learnt that more films should be made in Pakistan. I always had passion for filmmaking. I never wanted to be a stagnant actor; making films was my ambition. I did acting for a long time then decided to switch towards direction and in this way my journey in making films started.  I think every film in a way is an extension of yourself. Every film that I have done is an extension of myself.

When you get angry at a movie, what sets you off? Are there common qualities in cinema today that you dislike? Is there something you try to subvert or avoid or rebel against in your work?

I think people should face the ground reality. We lack in technology when compared with Bollywood & Hollywood. Professional people are coming in the industry but it will take time to ensure complete revival. We are moving towards revival but we have just started making films. Making so much expectations and comparing our films with Bollywood is wrong. We have limited budgets for our film projects. We still go for sound design in foreign countries. Right now we need motivation from the people. We can promise to entertain families by screening both classic & modern movies.

You have directed many films like Armaan, Mah-e-mir & Zindage Kitne Haseen Hay. Which one project was the most challenging?

Mah-e-Mir was the most challenging project. The script was written by Sarmad Sehbai. It was a learning experience for me that shaped by direction skills. Accepting this genre was a different experience in itself. Working with Sarmad Sehbai was an honour for me. When I started making this film I realised that we lacked latest technology. Films should be made and released on bigger scale.

How was the overall reception from the public to Zindage Kitne Haseen Hay since its release in UK and other countries?

Zindage Kitne Haseen Hay got very good response in UK & other countries. People appreciated our work. We are working hard to make our film industry better. We should always appreciate the team’s efforts. It will be a great support for the filmmakers if you give your feedback. Many filmmakers are already working hard and giving their best for the revival of Pakistani cinema.

In your view what are the strengths in film ZKHH that made it click on the box office?

The scenario of box-office is tricky. Why don’t people keep patience? We have just started making good movies. We are learning to make good films. The marketing of film industry revolves around the distributors. I do not know the criteria of box-office as to how they judge the films. Sometimes excellent movies flop on box-office.  

What role did you enjoy the most as a producer or as a director?

I always loved to be a director rather then producer. I have spent more time in direction. I have also done acting also for a long time. Working in all these fields was a rewarding experience for me.

You won Lux Style Award for best TV director. How did it feel?

Lux Style Award’s is always considered a platform for the celebrities to show their talent and for the audience to appreciate their hard work. Achieving best TV Director Award was an honour for me and it gave me strength that I’m moving in the right direction.

What is the difference between directing a play and a film? What are the prerequisites of becoming a good film director?

There is no formula of becoming a good director. You should always be passionate about your work. In both the mediums I think you have to justify your concept clearly to the audience. 

Would you like to share about your upcoming project?

I’m working on a new film Band Toh Ab Bajay Ga with Fahad Mustafa & DR.Ali Kazmi with Big Bang Production.