KARACHI: Babar Ali did not know the path to success. What he knew was that he would be on it, for two reasons — he had a goal and he had focus.
The 21-year-old filmmaker, who hails from Ali Goth in Korangi and is associated with the Zahrsss production house, had a story to tell the young audience at a session organised by ‘I Am Karachi’ as part of its Dialogue series, which aims to bring about positive change in society, at Iqra University's North Nazimabad campus on Saturday.
Coming from an underprivileged family, Ali couldn't get good quality education until the Infaq Foundation opened the Korangi Academy in his neighbourhood. "Having the opportunity at my doorstep, I availed it," he said. "I was an active student, with good grades and always participating in extra-curricular activities because I wanted to explore everything."
Even then, though, life was not without its setbacks for him. The first major stumbling block came when he struggled to go to the US under iEarn Pakistan's Youth Exchange and Study Programme (YES). "After two years of constant efforts, when I could finally fill out the form for the programme, I read the last page," he narrated. "It said that I was two months older than the required age."
A few months later, however, things took another turn — Ali was selected for a five-day space camp with NASA along with four other students from Pakistan. There, he met famous music director and composer Emmanuel Fratianni, sparking a passion for filmmaking in him.
When he returned to Pakistan, he began watching tutorials on filmmaking and soon, he was able to get a DSLR camera from the Infaq Foundation. "It was then that I made a movie, Amil Baba, that became famous among my peers and on social networks," he claimed, adding that since he was an engineering student, his elders discouraged him from pursuing his hobby. "But as I was focused and passionate about it, I was able to gain admission into the National College of Arts, Lahore."
For reasons he did not reveal, Ali soon left his education, coming back to Karachi to write his own film, Kataar. "I chose people from Korangi for my cast and made an immense effort to complete the film, but I couldn't."
This failure, according to him, was the second major setback he faced. "I didn't step foot outside my home for two months, until one of my juniors, Ebaad, made me meet Hafiz, who works with Zahrsss," he disclosed, adding that this was when he restarted his career as a filmmaker. "I began working on Kataar once again and when it was done, I uploaded it on Facebook. The overwhelming response reignited my love for filmmaking."
Ali now prepares short films for ‘I Am Karachi’ as well as various multinational companies. "Even those who ride in luxury cars have problems but only people with goals become successful," he advised the audience. "You need to know where you are going, so set your goals."
Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2015.
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