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An interview with the talented Faiza Iftekhar

Sheeba . 11

So after about 2 months of emails, facebook messages, and viber calls my interview with the extremely talented, extremely graceful, yet honest to the core, Faiza Iftekhar is finally done.  If you are friends with her on facebook, you will see some posts from her that might make you curious, to say the least, but when you speak to her, you can’t believe that this lady with this sweet and soft voice can take on the world. You then further can’t believe that show wrote super hit dramas lie Roag, Aun Zara, Bilkis Quar, and Eik Nayi Cinderella…I’m not exagerating when I say this, but she has the sweetest voice I have heard.

1. How did you get into writing?

Hmm, let’s see… credit goes to boredom I believe :).  I started writing novels in 2001 and 2007 is when I started writing electronically.

2. What was your first serial and how was the experience? How did you feel when you saw your writing on screen for the first time?

First on screen play was an episode of a sitcom by Samina Ahmad . After that, the first single play was Sanjh, which was directed by Mazhar Moin on TVone. My first serial was Chowdhween Ka Chand on HumTV…bas kuch mix feelings theen. Sitcom ki episode to mainay bohat fazool likhi thi, per the single play was well directed and well-acted. I felt good about it, but after watching Chowdhween Ka Chand I felt great. :) It was the first experiment by any channel of producing a daily Ramzan serial and it was a big hit.

3. What makes a good story?

That’s a very complicated question dear… There is no specific recipe to make a good story…achi kahani apna aap likhwati haiHaroon To Piya Teri was the first serial I ever wrote (Chowdhween Ka Chand just came on air first). Characterization and concept k lehaaz say ye bohat tough script tha, but still I think the ease and comfort with which I wrote that script, I can never have now. The only time ever I experienced such a feeling again was when I wrote ‘Roag’ for A&B which was based on child abuse.  After the success of Chowdhween Ka Chand, everyone wanted me to write only romantic comedies; No one was interested in such a concept like child abuse.  A couple channels actually rejected the concept without even hearing the oneliner, just because of the story and on public demand I had to write soaps like Manchalay and Tujhpay Qurban.  Mein shayed soaps aor comedy ki hi writer ban k reh jati had it not been for Babar Javed and the trust he had in me…and because of that trust, I was able to write plays like Diya Jalay and Roag, thus proving myself as a versatile writer. For me a good play first and foremost consists of having someone who believes in me and trusts me. After that are things like strong characters and passion.  A flow of situations is another ingredient. You just cannot write a good play, and heart touching play, on demand…it doesn’t work that way.

4. You are one of the few female writers who doesn’t make her females cry and look weak…there is no ‘mazloom aurat’ syndrome in your females…why? And why don’t we have more writers like you?

Yes, my female characters are not mazloom and I am absolutely proud of that. Look, it is a bitter reality of our society that yahan aurat pay zyadati hoti hai, hoti hai, hoti hai; I can’t deny that. But it is not necessary ke hum hamesha aorat ko ye zulm aor zyadati sehtay hoye dikhain. In most of my plays, I too showed that dark side, but I also showed how my actresses stand up for themselves. Ab chahay woh Diya Jalay ki Nadia ho jo khali hath ghar say nikalti hai aor family support ke baghair khula ka case larti hai, ya chahay Thakkan ki Sadaf ho jo sari dunia say larr ke halal rizq kamati hai. Chahay Eik nai Cinderella kiMisha ho jo apnay khawaab pooray karnay ke leye miracles ka wait nahi karti, ya  chahay Virasat ki Mahpara ho, they all are all fighters and survivors. In Diya Jalay and Yahan Pyar Nahi hai, I had the option of letting my heroines forgive their husbands and go back to them, but I really don’t believe in this…I do not believe that women were born to always forgive their husbands nor do I believe that subha ka bhoola shaam ko ghar a jaye to usko bhoola nahi kehtay; bhoola nahi kehtay to kya ullu ka patha kehtay hain? Usko bahar ka rasta dikha dena chaheye ke jahan din guzara, raat bhi wahin guzaro bholay.

5. Do you have the cast in mind when you are writing and defining your characters?

No, not all the time, but when the director or producer ask me to keep some artist in mind, I do and at times it works. I tend not to most of the time because jab casting bilkul opposite ho to zor ka jhatka dheeray say nahi zor say hi lagta hai. 

6.  Has there ever been a time that an actor did not do justice to your role…inversely has there ever been a time an actor did complete justice to your character? Who were they?

Yes, sometimes it has happened that an actor could not do justice to a role, but fortunately it was never one of the main characters. Thanks to my directors and producers my scripts gets superb artists in main leads. At times I haven’t initially agreed with some of the casting, but later I had to admit that their decision was right. For example I was not satisfied when they selected Sadia Imam for Bilkees Kuar, but she did a great job in her role. Same with Faizan Khawaja in Eik nai Cinderella,but he was perfect as Romaan. The ones who I did agree with and did absolute justice to my roles were Faysal Qureshi in Roag and Tishnigi, Bushra Ansari as Bilkees Kaur, Saba Qamar in Thakkan, Maya Ali in Meri Zindgi Hai Tu, Osman Butt in Aun Zara, and many more.

7. As a writer what are your thoughts on the ‘mazloom aurat’ syndrome television these days has been suffering from? Why are females made to look so weak and if not weak, then evil?

Yes, mazloom auorat rule the screen these days. However, I personally feel it is a sin that we show the roles of women wives jo saari umar ro dho ke sabar ke sath zindagi guzar deti hain thinking ke akhri umar main shohar seedha ho jayegaBhai us age tak atay atay shohar main dam he kahan rehta hai? Aiednd what is the guarantee that the wives will be alive to see the husbands being sudharofied? Why do we preach to our daughters that susraal ko sabar ke sath jheel ke hi ap jannati ho sakti hain?  The entire concept of ‘sabr’ is very wrongly portrayed…and for everyone’s kind information, there is absolutely no concept in Islam regarding the joint family system.  Everyone always wants to talk about mehram and non-mehram, but no one wants to acknowledge the fact that womens’ devar and jaith are also non-mehrams. In fact in Islam a husband cannot force his wife to live with the in-laws if she doesn’t want to. Why aren’t these things ever highlighted? A women who is quite and uneducated is shown as good, yet a women who speaks her mind and has an education is shown as evil? Why???In Akbari Asghari I tried to make everyone understand this. And since we are on the topic, let me tell you how pissed off I am by Nazir Ahmad’s version of Akbari Asghari. Someone honestly tell me what was so wrong with Akbari?  Was she a characterless or corrupt woman? Did she do something against religion or morality?  No, she was just a little careless and lazy… to kya sab Akbariyaan mar jain?  Heroin kya sirf har fun mola aorat hi ho sakti hai?  I actually found Asghari as very clever and calculated…woh sirf apnay number bananay ki aadi thi. A woman who can’t cook or sew well has the exact same rights to live with dignity and respect as one who can…there shouldn’t be a differentiation.

8. Thoughts on the stories on TV these days?

Yaar, what should I say? I won’t blame our producers, directors, and/or writers. I put full blame on the public who wants to see these things. Everyone is always complaining that they want to see something different, and when something different does hit the screens, hardly anyone watches. I wrote 4 serials this year; Uff Ye Mohabbat, Ghundi, Kahani Minahil aur Raima Ki, and Main Diwani… all were different without the evil saas or  mazloom aorta,  but were they a hit? Nope…because rating is only mazloom aurat, in fact better if it is a bewa aorat. That is the reality and we must now face it gracefully. Actually I’m also sick of bewa aorat aur yateem bachay story line now days. I too wrote a serial on this topic, Zindgi Dhoop Tum Ghana Saya in 2011, starring Sanam Baloch, Shabbir Jan, and Fahad Mustafa. I’m not saying this was a bad topic initially, but then all of a sudden you have 6-7 dramas on the same topics with the same lines? If all these topics weren’t a hit, no one would watch them. Everyone remembers the PTV era and reminisces about it continuously, but did Ullo Baraye Farokhat get any ratings?   Ullo Baraye Farokhat in my opinion was much better than PTV’s Waris.

9. Who are your favorite writers, actors, dramas on air, directors…?

It depends as not everyone can do complete justice all of the time. Some are better in some dramas and not so much in others. My favorites are Babar Javed, Haissam, and Kashif Nisaar in directors, Khalil Ur Rehman and Amna Mufti in writers, and my favorite actors are Faysal Qureshi, Noman Ejaz, Saba Qamar, Suhail Ahmad, Maya Ali, Osman Khalid Butt, Asif Raza Mir, and Hina Dilpazeer.

10. Every writer’s script gets edited at some point…how do you feel about that?

Would you believe I have never experienced this? I deal directly with director and discuss their vision, which is better done before writing. Once I’ve written something, I will not change it.

11. What do you think your responsibility is as a writer?

What responsibility and why?  This is our profession we should be fair with our profession as other people are with their respective professions. Inspiration is allowed and it’s natural but please don’t copy and paste others’ work, that’s it. It is not necessary at all to always give a lecture on society and religion or try to correct people…we should write whatever we want. We are not social workers or teachers and we shouldn’t be expected to act like them. We are entertainers and that’s what we do, we entertain. Singers have songs like Billo De Ghar also…they aren’t always singing the national anthem.  Dear fellow writers, feel free to write anything you want…if you feel like writing moral stories to educate viewers, do so, if you don’t then don’t write about them. Write scripts like Tanhaiyaan …entertaining people in a nice way is also kind of like social work.

12. Family life?  Family support?

I’m married with 3 (beautiful) kids and without my family’s support I could not have done anything.

13. Would you ever collaborate with another writer?

Absolutely…especially with Khalil Ur Rehman, Amna Muft, and Syed Mohammad Ahmad.

14. Aap se shikayat hai ke you end serials in a rush at time…What do you say about that?

It’s not me, it’s the production team. For example in Bilquis Qaur last 12 scenes were cut. In Eik Nayee Cinderella, I wanted 19 episodes but ended up cutting scenes condensing 2 episodes into the last one.  Nothing I can do about it.

15. What’s next?

Meri Kaneez is next coming out. …

16. What are your thoughts on the copious amounts of drama pages on facebook.

They have no conscience. They write whatever they want without thinking about the effects and consequences. What is the point of showing the entire world pictures of half-dressed actors? Eik cheez jo pehle bohut kam log jaante hon, unhoon ne use public ker di aur us pe likh dete hain ‘how many lanats for this?’ Why? And then they post hadiths on doing pardah and being afraid of Allah’s wrath.  Pehle half-dressed tasweerein public ko dikhao uske baad hadiths daal do.

With that we ended our interview. I agree with everything she said so far, especially the Pak media fb  pages…they write whatever they want with out consequences. They have absolutely no regard for anyone’s  privacy or well being. Once again, Thank You Faiza Apa for such an honest and witty interview. You let me ask anything I wanted and did not filter your answers to please people. Thank you for speaking the truth. We definitely need more people like you in the world. I am certainly honored to have spent this time with you and gotten to know you :)

By Sheeba Khan

  • Annie

    this was awesome Sheeba! Thank you for asking Intelligent questions (like always :)) and loved Faiza’s straight-forward answers (shukar hai no politically correct ones here)
    GREAT job!

    • Sheeba

      Thank You Annie…much appreciated :)

  • SophiaQ

    WhAt a smart woman. Especially agree with her thoughts on fb pages. Thanks for the interview!

  • Sheeba

    Thanks everyone…it really was a treat talking to Faiza Iftekhar. She is such a lovely person and it shows in the way she portrays women in her dramas :)

  • SK

    Great write up:) Enjoyed reading her interview, indeed she has written some awesome plays. Loved Bilkees Kaur, Aunn Zara and Akbari Asghari. It is so refreshing to see normal nuanced women in her plays. Hope to keep seeing more from her.

  • Sadaf

    wonderful interview Sheeba ! Faiza is one of my favorite writers and has written some of the most memorable plays and serials . There are so many good serials not mentioned here that I watched and later found out she wrote . I have to agree with Faiza about Mazloom auratein , and this whole concept of Saber . I am tired of dramas showing this as something only for women and though I realise that much of the Pakistani audience self identifies with a suffering woman but I think this is a self perpetuating cycle . I think the media is a tool which can be used to educate Men as well as women.
    Thank you Faiza for writing such great , true to life characters . I too have my issues with this whole Akbari Asghari thing and really am tired of being told the fate of civilization depends on womenkind taking whatever treatment is given . There is a difference between a rude ,arrogant woman and a respectful assertive woman ; something Faiza has managed to highlight in her serials . I personally would love to see a collaboration between Khalil Ur Rehman and Faiza …what a dream !!!

  • A musing Muslim

    Great Interview Sheeba! Am with Faraz – Bilquees Kaur was exceptionally well written and I am a such a fan that am literally tracking down her earlier works.

    She sounds super fun too! Thank you Faiza Iftekhar for excellent sharply observed characters and witty writing that doesn’t reduce women to cardboard cut outs!

  • My Fav one is Bilquees Kaur….. Everything was perfect.. and specially the way bushra ansari would deliver those epic lines! :)

  • Mona

    This was a treat to read. Thank you Sheeba for interviewing my personal favourite writer. She comes across as a very honest & sweet person.

    I love Faiza Iftikhar’s plays. Some of her plays like Roag, Akbari Asghari, Bilquis Kaur, Aik naye Cinderella, Zindigi dhoop Tum Ghana Saya & Aunn Zara are my all time favourites. She writes her characters with a lot of nuances. There is a sense of humour in her plays that most other writers miss. She’s not afraid to write about strong willed women, women we see all around us in our homes & circles.

    By the way, Faiza ji, if you’re reading this, let me tell you, the character you wrote, Asghar in Akbari Asghari, which was played by The Fawad Khan, has been Fawad’s favourite to play as of yet and he has mentioned this in a lot of his interviews.

  • Deepika

    Such a nice interview, I enjoyed reading it. Thank you, Sheeba. :)

    • Sheeba

      Thank You Deepika…much appreciated :)

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