Director Haseeb Hassan Talks about Mann Mayal
1, your upcoming project is now called Mann Mayal, before that it was Dil e Janam and before that Tera Ghum aur Hum. It almost seems as if the marketing team was not sure of the essence of the drama and how to encapsulate it. Why were there so many changes?
HASEEB HASSAN: I personally feel there is a responsibility on a director to give the best to the audience. If you see my previous serial’s titles, they are poetic and classic, e.g. Dayar e Dil, Sherdil, Tum Hoke Chup, Bol Meri Machli and Nanhi. These titles are sophisticated and they have a poetic essence. It was not a marketing team but the entire creative team (including the producers) who were interested in finding the best title out of all the working titles.. Tera Ghum Aur Hum and Dil e Janam were just working titles which we never officially announced. When Momina suggested Mann Mayal everyone loved it and then it went viral
- Tell us something about Mann Mayal and why you chose to direct it ?
HASSEEB HASSAN: I always try to direct strong stories and Mann Mayal is a sensitive, romantic journey of two eternal lovers, which gives you a range of emotions. It’s a beautiful love story. I personally avoid typical Saas/Bahu type stories or stories based on domestic violence or “villain type” hero characters. After reading Samira Fazal’s script I found it was perfect for me. I was fascinated by Salahuddin, Manno and Jeena’s characters and then the ambience of the script had many of the things l like too.
- As a director, what was the toughest part of making Mann Mayal?
HASEEB HASSAN :I always choose tough projects and I execute them with equal vigor, as far as production is concerned. Mann Mayal is another project with a huge cast and, for me some portions were tough but after several experiences, it has become much easier. However many of the emotions and situations related to the story were very difficult and painful for me.
- Compared to Dayar e Dil this serial seems a lot more intimate with less of the beautiful exterior shots that made your previous serial so memorable. How will you keep the audience intrigued?
Haseeb Hassan: Of course i shot Dayar e Dil in Skardu and I am shooting Mann Mayal in Karachi but as far as pictorial sense is concerned, it is technically better than Dayar e Dil. I tried to capture all these wonderful pre- partition houses and I got this one house with an amazing old structure which will definitely intrigue my audience.
- Your last project had the benefit of a lot of great actors with a lot of chemistry. Osman Khalid Butt and Maya Ali, Sanam Saeed and Mikaal Zulfikaar, Ali Rehman Khan and Hareem Farooq all made magic on the screen. How much of this so called screen chemistry is the director’s job and how he shoots a scene or isn’t it?
Haseeb Hassan: The basic magician is the director. It’s a director’s job to achieve on screen chemistry even though sometimes we get some couples who are poles apart but we can manage to show them completely in tune to each other’s ideal mental frequencies.
- You have made some very popular and significant serials like Nanhi, Bol Meri Machli, Tum Ho kay Chup, which one has been the most difficult?
HASEEB HASSAN Tum Hoke Chup was the most difficult because of its content and locations. We were talking about Baloch tribal customs and it was tough to shoot in London and Quetta at low temperatures.
- The promos to Mann Mayal seem to be very reminiscent of the style in which Pyarey Afzal was shot ; Manoo’s traditional, affluent household , her way of dressing and the Salahuddin’s (at least initially) outsider status as a tutor . How is Mann Mayal different?,
HASEEB HASSAN: Honestly, this is my style. I made Bol Meri Machli in 2008 with a similar kind of ambience to Mann Mayal and I think Pyarey Afzal came three years, after that. I really have not seen Pyarey Afzal. I even thought about watching it via YouTube when I cast Hamza just to avoid any similarities but I never actually got the chance to see it. If you find any similarities it would definitely be unintentional. I respect every director’s work and seriously don’t believe in any kind of copy paste even from an international movie
- Tell us about the lead female characters. Are there any mazloom, bholi larkiyan or bad manipulating Vixens to confuse the sweet and honest hero?
HASEEB HASSAN: All the characters are reflection of our society. Mannu comes from a traditional family; she has her own voice and her own ideas. Jeena is another strong personality, a determined, daring kind of person who is not afraid to speak her mind.
SAMIRA FAZAL: TMannu is a determined girl. She doesn’t believe in losing hope. It’s a journey for her and the choices she has to make for herself and she is forced to make by others
- What about the hero, Salahuddin?
SAMIRA FAZAL : He is someone who loves a girl so much that he never married … He is still waiting for her though she is gone from his life! He goes somewhere abroad, but never forgets his love for her .
- Sexual assault and violence against women seem to be a trending topic in Dramas at the moment. As a director, you have dealt with this sensitive subject in Nanhi. What have you learnt from your experience shooting such a difficult subject?
HASEEB HASSAN: People are creating such projects to get the best ratings or TRPs’. Nanhi was something very real in everything: characters, sets and style of storytelling. We were just focusing the basic idea without forcing twists and turns just to get ratings. Every thrilling moment was natural and authentic.
- Following on from that theme, a lot of people were surprised and upset by Wali kidnapping Faraa in Dayar e Dil. What would you say to them?
HASEEB HASSAN: They should think about the reason behind kidnapping situation. I have to say a lot of people enjoyed that episode and were hooked after that.
- Samira Fazal is known for her witty, modern dialogues and scripts. Was it easy to translate her characters to the screen? What makes her writing different from the other writers you have worked with?
HASEEB HASSAN: Samira Fazal’s dialogues and craftsmanship are amazing. She plays with the pulse of the viewer but always keeps the basic theme in mind. I liked her writing. I never bind myself to any specific genre; I enjoy translating and justifying each character on the screen. There were some very unique portions of her script, which I really enjoyed.
- You announced that you will be working on a film soon … Any news on that?
HASEEB HASSAN: My first film project is expected to start in April. Cast and script is locked and it will be announced officially…… very soon. Sorry I cannot say much right now, it is a bit of a secret.
- If you had your heart’s desire what would be your ideal film project ?
HASEEB HASSAN Perhaps my second film project, its unofficial but I may be working on another film project which is expected to be to be finalized soon too. The lead will be played by Hamza Ali Abbasi .He is learning how to fly for my film. Hopefully we will start shooting will start shooting as Hamza Ali Abbasi finishes Maula Jutt . There are also some other projects in the works which I can’t talk about right now .
- As a Director, what would you like the audience to understand about your work? ,
HASEEB HASSAN: I always try translating stories in the simplest manner to give the basic message of the subject. I always try to pick a script which holds a strong debate between true and false and gives the viewer a take home lesson. My main goal is that any story should be comprehensible to the audience. As creative people, we work very hard to make a product, whether it is a movie or a drama, my only request is that People should not just criticize for the sake of criticism. They should understand that even for a project they don’t like, there is a lot of hard work, pain and effort behind every single shot
- Long serials of over thirty episodes have become common will Man Mayal follow that trend ?
SAMIRA FAZAL: No, this is one wont , It’s just 24 episodes