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It’s equal measure of reassuring and frustrating to see Haseena Moin, as we did at a press conference titled ‘Celebrating Women in Cinema’, part of the Pakistan International Film Festival in Karachi a couple of weeks ago. It’s reassuring to know that a dramatist and playwright of her caliber exists in Pakistan; no one can forget the kind of resonance Moin’s dramas such as Kiran Kahani, Ankahi, Tanhaiyan and Dhoop Kinarey had. And it’s frustrating when you wonder why she isn’t writing anymore. A writer like Haseena Moin would have contributed substantially to the popular and yet incredibly flawed Pakistani TV dramas that we witness today. Our serials are popular but anyone with an understanding of literature will also understand how insufficient they are.

Haseena Moin has also been successful at writing film scripts, the most prominent being Samina and Usman Peerzada’s Nazdikiyan and then Raj Kapoor’s Henna, the experience of which she shared with her audience at the press conference.

“Samina called me to write her film, I wrote that,” Haseena jee said. “Raj Kapoor was after me for three years to write a script; he said it was his dream to have the dialogues written by me and that he wouldn’t make the film otherwise. I wrote that out of courtesy, however, even though I wasn’t even paid for my contribution. The Babri Mosque incident happened and there was tension between the two countries. That’s when I wrote to Randhir Bhai and asked him not to mention my name in the credits because I feared that it would create bad feelings in Pakistan for me.” She said she didn’t want to hurt her fans in Pakistan by affiliating with a Bollywood project.

Why did she not think of writing her own film and why hadn’t she written since then, she was asked.

“I’m not a film maker; I’m a film follower,” she replied. “I love watching good films, good films make me happy, and if someone invites me to write a good film I’ll go and write one. However, I don’t go anywhere myself for film or television. I’ll ask if I’m asked to write.”

The million-dollar question is this: why isn’t she being asked to write scripts for TV and film? One would like to ask TV channels, producers and directors this question.

“There is potential to make good films in our country, there have been good films made in the early stage of cinema,” Haseena jee said, optimistically at the conference. “Noor Jehan was Pakistan’s first woman to make a film and Shamim Ara’s films, Aag Ka Darya and Saheli, had strong scripts. The tragedy now is that we don’t have strong content.”

Content comes from the story and script and then extends to the execution, meaning the direction. One would appeal to the policy makers at TV channels and studios to make a stronger effort to bring Haseena Moin back. The industry needs her.

  • This article was first published in Instep on Saturday, March 24 2018