Two plays directed by Haissam Hussain have gone on air in India so far. Aunn Zara got an outstanding response by the public and the celebrities there. Times of India interviewed Haissam Hussain and in this interview he said many good things about his country and the work that is being done here. Here is the interview:
Q. In the late 1980s Indian audiences laid their hand on Pakistani TV shows – Dhoop Kinare, Tanhaiyaan and the play Bakra Qishton Pe and to watch them, people used to queue outside video libraries. Sometimes they had to wait for weeks to get hold of a copy. Now about three decades later, when Zee started its new channel Zindagi to showcase Pakistani TV shows, Indian audience have found instant connect with all the shows. What are your views on the initiative taken by Zee? did you expect this kind of response to your show “Aunn Zara”?
A. knew people who enjoy the dynamics of marriage between a modern, strong young woman and pampered young man would enjoy this. Marriage is a big topic in our part of the world, however often we stereotype it. Different families have different attitudes and reactions towards it. Love grows in funny ways and comes from all directions. I knew the people in India face and come from the same story base as us as far as family and marriage is concerned. They are as obsessed with it and it is a dynamic and changing force in both our societies.
Q. The shows not only entertain, they also give a new perspective about the culture and people in Pakistan. Is Aunn Zara close to reality? Does it reflect the evolving culture and the people in the country?
A. Pakistan is full of all kinds of people; it’s full of strong women and highly vocal women. It often gets stereotypes in foreign media. This show isn’t even an iota of all the wonderful changes Pakistan’s society has been evolving and seeing over the many years in all spheres of life. Hand in hand with our tragedies and difficulties has always the part of us that is growing, changing, and pushing the boundaries. And we always like to have a good laugh, the good thing is we have the strength to laugh at ourselves first. Yes of course Aunn Zara is a depiction of what could be a real life situation in Pakistan.
Q. The show has received great response in India. What was the response to the show when it was aired in Pakistan?
A. It received a great response, ShukarAlhamdolillah.
Q. The audience in Pakistan get to see Indian TV shows and movies, but Indian audiences are not so lucky. Other than Zee’s initiative, what according to you should be done ensure that people in India have access to their neighbours body of work?
A. India and Pakistan share many common sensibilities culturally. Pakistanis have a very open minded and creative approach to their working television and are heavily talented, the themes range from rural to urban issues, economics, gender issues to romance but all of it is highly relatable to people both sides of the borders. Similarly with Indian cinema. Family, religion, economics, music, politics, even the weather plays the same role in our societies. The effect of modern day culture and westernisation and the dichotomy between traditional and modern is also growing the same way. We tell the same stories, we should hear each other out and watch them, exchange ideas and talent and be allowed to do so freely.
Q. What are your views on Indian TV shows and movies?
A. Ramesh Sippy’s Gaatha was brilliant. I remember me and my mom use to glue to the TV screen every time a new episode comes on air. But, having said that, I am not a big fan of soaps. I am a die-hard huge fan of Indian cinema and have always been. It’s a fantastic industry. Pakistan’s movie industry is a fledgling industry compared to India’s but in a very exciting period of growth nowadays.