I met Jamal Shah at an event in NCA in architecture department. He was there to guide the students. He was a very pleasant person to meet and very friendly in nature. One can feel this calm attitude of him towards anyone talking to him.
Q: When did you establish Fine Arts departments?
A: Fine Arts Department in Baluchistan University was established in 1984 and I was the Head of Department for 3 years. I was the Chairman of Artist Association Baluchistan in the same year. Established Hunar Kadah TV and Productions in 1991.
Q: What is your educational qualification?
A: I earned my Masters degree in English Literature in 1978 from Baluchistan University. Then I received a diploma from National College of Arts which is now offered as a Master’s Degree. Then I earned my Masters degree in Fine Arts from London Slade School of Arts.
Q: When you came in the professional field, how was your experience?
A: Drama Gardaab was produced by Hunar Kadah productions. GEO TV had all the material, but it wasn’t released because it was a crime show which had some gross scenes. So, a suit was filed against it.
I always wanted to work on serious topics and issues, but the problem was that we could always produce such kind of material, but we couldn’t release it because of permission at that time.
Q: Sir! If the crime show was so good, why didn’t you convert it into a Film?
A: We could convert it into a Film, but we were not sure if censor board will pass it or not and secondly, we couldn’t tell if the public would show any interest.
Q: You’ve done so much work in theatre. Why have you stopped doing it?
A: Theatre demands time and it’s really tough. It doesn’t mean that only I should show commitment, but each and every one working in theatre has to show it too. And then there is this thing that theatre can’t monetize so someday you have to move on ultimately. Also theatre runs on funding in Pakistan because of this commitment with theatre is very difficult.
Q: We’ve seen you in our childhood on TV. You used to sing Baluchi songs which felt so soft even though we could not understand the language, but they were too good to listen.
A: Basically, I was introduced as a singer on the TV. I got involved with art later. I did a drama named “Trafik” for a British channel which was nominated as 4 BAFTA awards. Rahat Kazmi, Talat Hussain and Faryal Gauhar were also the part of the team and were also nominated. British TV is very good and when Afghan war was happening and drugs transport was on its peak, this Drama was produced.
They showed by this drama that how drugs are transported to Central Asia through Pakistan. It didn’t only include Pakistani or Afghani but also Turkish, German and British. The topic was so sensitive that this drama was not released in Pakistan.
This drama was a series and it included actors from many countries. It was played again and again because of the situation. It was released in 1990. It was repeated 5 times in Russia, 3 times in USA. Nominated for Emmy Awards too. A copy was sent to PTV, but it was not permitted to release in Pakistan.
Q: PTV used to be the best TV channel, but its performance has been going very low since last 2 decades. What has actually happened?
A: No work is being happening properly in PTV. 2 years back, PTV’s MD (managing director) position was open and I also applied for it. Topped the 3 interviews and was recommended. The whole board that was handling was headed by Rauf Chaudhry, Shams Lakha. The position was then given to a person who was already a defaulter. This means the merit was compromised.
Q: What is your involvement in Pakistan National Council of Art?
A: I was the executive director of PNCA. I worked abroad and it included a film named “K2”. It’s a Hollywood feature film. This is the only film I’ve worked in. Now, I’ve worked in “Ho Mann Jahan”. About 90% of this film was shot in Canada. The interesting fact is it was about K2 and Pakistan didn’t allow the shooting here.
So, we had to head back to Canada and used a Mountain like K2. In 80’s and 90’s, Pakistan was so conservative in their production field. We stayed in the mountains of Canada for 2 and a half month for shooting. When the film was the released, the producer saw Skardu and said he felt sad as it was so beautiful and he couldn’t shot the film here.
Q: How many kids do you have?
A: I’ve two kids from my 2nd wife, Amna. I was separated from my 1st wife Faryal Gauhar in 1981 and I remarried in 2005. Baluchi artist Mubarak Shah is my Nephew.
Q: How many branches are there of Hunar Kadah?
A: Islamabad, Lahore and Sawat have the branches of Hunar Kadah.
Q: Why is there no branch in Quetta?
A: We had planned, but when I went to Islamabad and started an institute. It was a good place to start because the people were responsive. Quetta has less people who are interested in the field of Fine Arts.
Q: Which institute’s degree is Hunar Kadah providing?
A: It is associated with Baluchistan University, Sargodha University and Gujrat University. The procedure is where ever is Hunar kadah is established, it is associated with its nearby University.
Q: “Revenge of the worthless” is your new movie which is soon to be released. Is it for masses?
A: Yes. I’ve not made this movie for niche, but it is on the Political realities of Pakistan. It is on the incident of Sawat’s 2009 insurgency which was based on 3-4 months.
Q: Sir, What kind of response are you expecting from Box office?
A: I think the film should be relevant. It’s relevant. So, I hope people will relate, engage and get entertained. My ambition was not to make a film, but to communicate a message. This movie in scenic, it has good production value. We’ve not compromised on quality. Have Casted it good.
Q: Sir, What do you prefer the most among Box Office value and cinematic art?
A: Cinematic art is anti-terrorism force and anti-intolerance force. Due to this, I can’t compromise on quality, production value should be high. If these things are good, your Box Office result will also be good.
Q: When is “Revenge of the worthless” releasing?
A: It will be released soon. Many projects are in pipe line.
Q: What do you want to do in music?
A: I am concentrating on the songs in the coming projects.
Q: What are the problems with films?
A: There are not too many technical issues. We have very less intent. Clarity of film should be here. We still can’t differentiate between film and drama. We have the strength that we have so many authentic stories that can be told. We need to develop ourselves technically. There is no problem in taking an inspiration, but we should stay true to the field. The problem is infrastructure.
Q: Sir, Do you think modern digital media has made film making easy?
A: Digital media has made film making cheap. It has its problems. People will surely learn. As it’s cheap, so, new people can take risks by making a movie. Government should facilitate film makers.
There should be a government fund. If the government helps in investment, 10, 20, 30 crore can be used in as endowment fund and then should announce a competition in which the prize money will be given to a best business plan etc.
So, if they support 10-15 movies in a year which they can, this will be helpful in the film making process. As a result, good films will be released. Fund will not get wasted because when the movie will do business; there will be contract with the producer that some percent share will be sent back to the fund.
Q: Sir, Would you like to work on social issues?
A: Definitely, there should be films on social issues and there should be real and true issues.
Q: People think that Cinema is bad. What do you want to say about this social barrier?
A: Cinema is not accessible to people because it’s expensive and not because it’s bad. An ordinary person cannot to go to movies with 500 Pakistani Rupees. He cannot afford to buy tickets for his 4-5 kids. They have made cinemas in-accessible by making it expensive.
Q: What do you think about revival of Pakistani cinema?
A: Revival of Pakistani cinema has been already done because there are more than 30 movies are under production. They have very diverse topics. Film makers of Lahore haven’t started making films, but when they’ll do it, it’ll be very good.
Q: How much do you believe in local language cinemas?
A: There should be films in different languages. Pashto films can also be released in Afghanistan. Punjabi movies can also be released in Indian Punjab. If you do so, things will get more improved. We should be interactive with Turkish, French cinemas. This will help to learn that how world is working.
Q: What would you like to say about Turkish dramas?
A: They are making very great dramas and films.
After all these questions and their very informative answers, I thanked him for giving his precious time and asked for his permission to leave.