‘Dastaan’: Reflecting the Indo-Pak divide

Published: October 6, 2011
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Director Haissam Hussain made history lessons interesting through his drama serial “Dastaan”. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Director Haissam Hussain made history lessons interesting through his drama serial “Dastaan”. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Director Haissam Hussain made history lessons interesting through his drama serial “Dastaan”. PHOTO: PUBLICITY
Director Haissam Hussain made history lessons interesting through his drama serial “Dastaan”. PHOTO: PUBLICITY
Director Haissam Hussain made history lessons interesting through his drama serial “Dastaan”. PHOTO: PUBLICITY
KARACHI: 

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.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Babloo
    Oct 6, 2011 - 10:15PM

    I hope people in Pakistan are taught about the first mass riots before Pakistan, the “Direct action day” carnage that killed 10,000 people. Who was the architect and planner of the “day of direct action” in support of the demand to divide India ? That riot in 1946 was the fire that lit the communal carnage leading to partition riots. Please do your own research.

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  • factualinaacuracy
    Oct 7, 2011 - 12:36AM

    Did Garam Hawa not give the other perspective?

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  • aniq
    Oct 7, 2011 - 12:54AM

    SAFMA properganda

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  • Oct 7, 2011 - 3:49AM

    the best drama ever made. gr88 way 2 refresh our memoriesRecommend

  • Cynical
    Oct 7, 2011 - 3:52AM

    I most sincerely request the acclaimed director Mr Haissam Hussain to make a serial/documentary on ‘Direct action day’ so that we have a historical understanding of this glorius event which greatly contributed in creation of Pakistan.

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  • Adnan Waqar
    Oct 7, 2011 - 9:31AM

    Excellent play

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  • nahmed
    Oct 7, 2011 - 9:37AM

    A drama very near to truth. Excellent work. Need such work on 1857 war of Independance. Muslims in India were the real force who compelled British to leave India.

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  • Deb
    Oct 7, 2011 - 6:51PM

    @nahmed

    “Muslims in India were the real force who compelled British to leave India”

    …and after compelling the British to leave India, the Muslims leave 80% of the land to the Hindus and settle in a piece of land of mountain and desert. How generous of them.

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  • shweta mittal
    Nov 24, 2011 - 9:31PM

    @Deb:
    i did not understand the meaning of your comment. please explain.

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  • Deb
    Nov 25, 2011 - 1:39PM

    @shweta mittal

    My comment was in response to a comment posted by @nahmed. So you need to read that one too.Also mine was a kind of tounge in cheek comment in response to his assertion that
    ‘Muslims in India was the real force who compelled British to leave India.’

    My point is, if that’s true then why they settle for a smaller part of the land (Pakistan) leaving the rest for the hindus (who in his opinion were not much of a force to cause the british withdrawal)

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