At the 10th Lux Style Awards (LSAs) 2011, the Best TV Director (All Channels) award went to the Haissam Hussain — the director of HUM TV’s drama serial “Dastaan”. From giving depth to the characters belonging to a different generation to portraying the emotional havoc of 1947, “Dastaan” communicated the essence of partition’s epoch with remarkable accuracy.
The Express Tribune spoke to Hussain who shared details about his directorial work and his future endeavors.
Why did you choose Razia Butt’s novel Bano as an inspiration for your serial ‘Dastaan’? Don’t you think much has already been written and televised about the partition?
Given the problems Pakistan is going through (no electricity, water shortages, lack of job opportunities and rising prices of basic commodities), people are looking for the opportunity to run away from Pakistan, and are forgetting the reason as to why, and how, Pakistan came into being.
About three years ago, we did a tele-film by Umera Ahmed “Mutti Bhar Mitti” which got a very good response, so Momina Duraid and I decided to work with the theme of partition and the novel Bano provided the perfect opportunity to pursue this.
What was it like working around the theme of the creation of Pakistan?
We had a basic structure for the storyline from the book, but the portrayal of customs, mannerisms and etiquette of that time had to be incorporated in the television adaptation. The tragic events that occurred were something that we had only heard of, but nothing any one from our generation could even imagine enduring. To bring the tragedy alive on screen was tough physically and emotionally for myself as the director, but more so for the actors who gave all their energy in bringing the emotions to life.
How would you rate ‘Dastaan’ on an international level? Were you inspired by any international directorial work during the making?
“Dastaan” was all about facts and events that occurred during partition. If you search the media (films, internet) we usually get the perspective of the other side (Sikhs and Hindus) regarding the suffering they faced, there is very little material on how the Muslims struggled. Hence, “Dastaan” provided the perfect platform to tell the tale from our side in a tasteful manner.
Whose acting skills in ‘Dastaan’ would you give two thumbs up to?
All the actors performed with extreme dedication and all of them deserve high praise.
How did the audience respond to the idea of women being dishonoured during partition, as portrayed in the series?
The efforts made while making dramas can often go unnoticed, but the fan pages of “Dastaan” bear testimony to how passionately people felt about this play and its characters. A lot of the young generation felt shocked about the crimes committed against Muslim women during partition, and for the older generations who actually witnessed or had heard about such events first-hand, “Dastaan” refreshed their memories. The stories the older generation were prompted to share with younger generations after watching the play have served to reawaken this zeal towards preserving the original values our country was designed for.
What’s in the pipeline?
We are working on “Dur-e-Shahwar”, which is a script by Umera Ahmed. There are a couple of other projects too which are still under process.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2011.