Behind the scenes: SZABIST alumni captured images that made it all work

Published: February 28, 2012
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The 26-year-old Faruqi said that he “never expected” the film to make
it to the Oscars. PHOTO: COURTESY ASAD FARUQI

The 26-year-old Faruqi said that he “never expected” the film to make it to the Oscars. PHOTO: COURTESY ASAD FARUQI

KARACHI: 

Asad Faruqi saw the Academy Awards ceremony for the first time in his life this Monday morning. But he can’t recall what happened after the film in which he worked as a cameraman, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s Saving Face, won an Oscar for the Best Documentary-Short Subject category.

The 26-year-old Faruqi said that he “never expected” the film to make it to the Oscars. Now that it has done exactly that, the graduate of the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (Szabist) hopes that this award will help convince families that are reluctant to send their children to film school that the profession is worth pursuing.

Faruqi was born and schooled in Hyderabad. He and his family relocated to Karachi after his father’s death, and continued his studies at The City School. He enrolled into the media sciences programme at Szabist, which provided him with the chance to learn more about this specific craft.

Incidentally, Faruqi was not destined for film school at the beginning. “I studied chartered accountancy for two years but realised that it is not what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a journalist and specifically do war photography. I then met Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. She saw my work and said that she needed someone to work on her documentary, Pakistan’s Taliban Generation.”

Faruqi ended up shooting what became one of the most important parts of the film. “The embassy didn’t allow the producer, who was a British national, to go to Swat as it was still under Taliban’s control. We had only four hours to decide what to do and ultimately I went in with Sharmeen and we got back out from there the same day. My work was appreciated by everyone and Sharmeen chose me as the main cameraman for her future films.”

It seemed pure luck that Faruqi was able to work at all in that documentary, which later won an International Emmy. He had broken his leg and was limping on the first day of the documentary’s shooting. He said that Saving Face was his second major project with Obaid-Chinoy. “I injured my back during this one. I guess it’s a sign, that I suffer an injury and then we win an award,” he joked.

Unlike many of his colleagues who gripe about not getting recognition for their work behind the scenes, Faruqi was quick to give credit where he thought it was due. “At the end of the day, this is Sharmeen’s story. It features the director’s vision. Above all, it is a documentary; we are not supposed to be the face of it. It is about the victims and we’re glad that it has gained such widespread attention.”

The making of Saving Face, which focuses on a plastic surgeon that performs reconstructive surgery on acid attack survivors, proved to be a trying experience for the crew, given that they had to hear harrowing tales of the survivors. “There are times when you become so engrossed with the whole thing,” said Faruqi. “I used to feel angry. Their (the survivors’) words would go through me, so there’s that lens through which the audience gets to hear them. But I channelled that anger into my work, so that my visuals could speak for themselves.”

Faruqi planned to celebrate with his family and friends on Monday night. “I’m not the most talented cameraman out there,” admitted Faruqi. “The job involves a lot of hard work and a bit of luck as well. But this award has motivated me to pursue more challenging projects.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Ali Tanoli
    Feb 28, 2012 - 4:36AM

    Its a lip stick mr farooqi. Oscars once a while give some poorsRecommend

  • KH
    Feb 28, 2012 - 9:15AM

    Good job Asad!!!! I beleive there is a lot of raw talent in Pakistan, and it just needs some exposure to shine.

    Recommend

  • Salman Rashid
    Feb 28, 2012 - 10:05AM

    Asad Faruqi is not just a genius behind camera, but one of the most humblest people you will come across as well. He has just announced himself to the world, with an EMMY and now with an OSCAR. Wish him all the best for the future :)

    Recommend

  • Shafaq
    Feb 28, 2012 - 10:53AM

    Wishes all the very Best for your future.

    Recommend

  • Sabeen Jaffer
    Feb 28, 2012 - 11:38AM

    I Know Asad personally.. he is really very talented :).. Good Job Man!!!!!!!!

    Recommend

  • F.K
    Feb 28, 2012 - 12:36PM

    Met asad last night on a show. He is indeed very humble and brilliant!! well done man

    Recommend

  • ARF
    Feb 28, 2012 - 12:46PM

    Great – congrats and all the best for the future.

    Recommend

  • Arshad Khan
    Feb 28, 2012 - 2:01PM

    Good Job…..
    Keep it up….

    Recommend

  • Safwan Zia
    Feb 28, 2012 - 10:09PM

    Good job Asad, proud to have you as a friend :)

    Recommend

  • Zain Naqvi
    Feb 29, 2012 - 12:17AM

    Not only is he good at this, but he’s an amazing football player as well, and he has been my coach for a couple of years. Have always looked up to him, have always been inspired by him. Knew he’d do something that would make us all proud one day. Thankyou Asad Bhai, Stevie G, as I call you. There’s more to come. Cheers !

    Recommend

  • Feb 29, 2012 - 12:22AM

    Not only is he good at this, but another quality that makes him stand out is his amazing football skills. He has been ny coach for atleast 2 years. Have always looked up to him, have always been admired by him. Knew he’d make us all proud one day. Congratulations Asad Bhai, Stevie G, as you’re called more often. Best of luck for future. This is just the start. There’s more to come. Cheers !

    Recommend

  • JS
    Mar 1, 2012 - 3:13AM

    Come to SZABIST need your autograph :) and a copy of the DVD….cheers!

    Recommend

  • Arshad Malik
    Mar 1, 2012 - 8:53AM

    Good job. Keep it up Asad. All the best for a bright future ahead.Hard work, sincerity,a great capacity to dream and persistence are the key to success . Good luck.

    Recommend

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