In Conversation with Nadeem Baig
As someone rightly said, “In the end, we’ll all become stories.” This is why to some, being able to narrate these stories with perfection becomes a passion-led profession. Nadeem Baig is one such individual. Pakistan’s talented filmmaker, who brought forth some of the most defining works of art, aims to bring all the aspects of storytelling into motion which leaves a lasting impression. How is he doing his part in giving a nudge to Pakistan’s creative podium, read on:
SD: A writer, director, and producer- which title resonates with you the most and truly reflects your passion?
Nadeem: The title of a writer is very important to me and I respect it a lot because only when something is written well, can someone execute it with perfection. The fact is I haven’t written so far; what I’ve done is work together with talented writers to develop screenplays which is why I do not want to take credit from the amazing plethora of writers I’ve worked with including Khalil Ur Rehman, Faiza Iftikhar, Umera Ahmed and Vasay Chaudhry. Their exemplary scripts have allowed me to narrate and execute great stories.
When it comes to my role as a director, I enjoy my work a lot because I put my heart and soul into it. As a producer, I keep myself extremely busy with my company Six Sigma through which I produce a lot of serials.
SD: Is there a story in your mind that you feel needs to be narrated and you wish to pen down?
Nadeem: As a producer with my own production house ‘Six Sigma’, I have plenty on my hands that keeps me busy. However, I do love directing and I do it once or twice a year only when a story appeals to me and becomes extremely close to my heart. So yes, there are plenty of stories by many talented writers out there that I look forward to projecting on screen. The whole process is truly rewarding when you invest your everything to bring this narration and these characters to life. I mean just look at my part in the anthology ‘Teri Meri Kahaniyan’; it was a simple story but it was fulfilling to bring the performance-oriented narrative to the screens,
SD: How would you say the entertainment industry has progressed in the past decade or so- are we finally heading in the right direction?
Nadeem: See, when we talk about something, it is already holding plenty of depth. Be it human stories, social issues, political issues, etc. These are things that matter and need to be addressed in our stories. Yes, the entertainment industry is a commercial business, and we need to mind what clicks and is entertaining but you can give a definite message with your production. I would say our industry is definitely moving toward something. However, we can’t determine a single pathway as the ‘right’ direction. Different creative heads would consider different directions as their success. But looking from a broader perspective, our film industry is booming with remarkable works in recent times like Kamli, London Nahi Jaunga, Joyland, and Maula Jutt. And when it comes to our dramas, they’ve set a benchmark of excellence, even getting insurmountable views from our neighboring country India.
SD: Looking at your impressive filmography, which one remains your absolute favorite project and why?
Nadeem: I enjoyed watching Punjab Nahi Jaungi, and I enjoyed making Jeewani Phir Nahi Ani. The latter was a comedy and it was just a whole lot of fun shooting.
SD: You seem to have a good rapport with Humayun Saeed- how important is it for the director and actor to remain on the same page when working together or are creative differences healthy for the project?
Nadeem: I feel it’s critical that when you cast a particular actor for a role, the actor should embrace and get inspired to portray that character. The ideal situation would be when the actor is able to trust the director and his vision. That is the kind of rapport I have with Humayun and Mehwish Hayat. They are able to trust me completely and while I think having certain creative differences is healthy, these should and are sorted during the table read and before the shooting begins, when everyone is supposed to be on the same page. When it comes to Humayun, I am lucky to work with a producer who is an amazing director and a really good friend.
SD: It seems you select limited projects to work on, be it films or dramas- with doing one or two in a year. Is that a conscious choice to create a healthy balance between your personal well-being and professional goals?
Nadeem: I would have to say there are mainly two reasons. As I earlier said, Six Sigma Productions keeps me really busy, however, I do wish to venture more into direction and bring forth amazing stories with scripts that I can visualize and work together with my writers to present the narrative as I want to.
SD: You have created masterpieces in genres of comedy, drama, and romance- is there a theme you haven’t explored yet but wish to?
Nadeem: I really want to do an action thriller. It’s a medium not fully taken on by Pakistan’s entertainment industry. But it has to abide by the international standards of excellence to make a difference. Hopefully, in the near future, we will be there to justify this genre.
SD: If you do make an action thriller, who will you cast?
Nadeem: There are so many actors who can do justice to such a role- be it Fahad Mustafa, Humayun, Wahaj Ali, etc. I think they would love to get into this. While we do have action sequences, a full-fledged action movie is something I know most of the talented actors will want to be on board with.
SD: If we look at the backlash ‘Hadsa’ has been getting on social media nowadays, do you feel such open criticism from the public creates barriers to creative expression?
Nadeem: I feel we can’t just label this incident on a story. You just need to be extremely sensible and cautious with narrating such a sensitive topic. While we have had dramas made earlier as well on rape, like Ruswai, Hadsa’s backlash comes from it mirroring the real-life trauma of a person who had lived through that situation if it was in fact based on the victim’s ordeal. This is what I think was probably missed out by the production team.
SD: What’s in store for 2024- any upcoming projects you can tease our audience with?
Nadeem: Brace yourselves as I am working on a film which will be released in June 2024 and has the star couple Mahira Khan and Humayun sharing the screen again.