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Mir Imran Hussain is truly multi-faceted. He may be a banker by profession but by passion he is a creative artiste. Despite being a regular corporate job, he has managed to write a book, act in plays, script TV shows, direct and act in short films and make music videos among other things. “I have to sacrifice most of my weekends,” he laughs when we ask him to explain his balancing act in this tete-a-tete.
How do you balance your passion for writing, acting and directing with your profession as a banker?
Banking is my profession and I respect my job as it is my source of income, academically I have graduated in commerce. I knew that I will have to work for an organization for few years before I convert my passion into my profession. To balance my passion, I sacrifice on few fronts such as my weekends and evenings. I make it a point to invest certain hours of my time every week towards my writing, acting and direction. Besides I gave up driving couple of years ago and began using public transport to save one hour every day. I now use my time while commuting to write scripts and visualize scenes.
You directed two music videos with local singers, Ghar Aaja and I am your sunshine. What were the challenges?
When I was offered to direct and write Ghar Aaja and I am your sunshine, I made up my mind that my team and I would treat this in the most professional and organised manner. I went through a lot of profiles before selecting the cinematographer and editor. The budget was moderate for both videos hence completing the shoot with a small crew and in a few days was the best idea. The main challenge was dealing with the heat. Most the scenes in Ghar aaja were outdoors near a desert in Ras al Khaimah. I am your sunshine too had a lot of outdoor scenes. The shoot was held at the end of May and beginning of June last year. Withstanding the heat itself was a task.
How do you conceptualise, plan and shoot a video?
The best is to keep the approach simple and low profile. Whilst writing the script for the videos I used to listen to the song, keep the artist, location and lyrics in mind, weave a thread amongst the three and then pen down the scene. Following the order of chronology is very important. Before starting the project I keep a time frame in mind after consulting with the producer after which I pick the team. The first to be selected is generally the cinematographer or the DOP (director of photography). Then the team of actors is chosen. Then the cinematographer and I hit the roads to select the locations according to the theme of the song and scenes. Once the script, technical team, locations and cast are complete, the costume designer and make-up artiste are finalised. Rehearsals are done to avoid wasting time during the shoot and to help the team to know each other well. The shoot generally lasts anywhere between 16 to 20 hours especially if one wants to complete a song in two days. Once the shoot is done and footage is ready, editing begins. The post production is equally important as pre-production and shooting. After the songs are ready, we search the right channel or production house who can justify the song by taking it to the audience. The entire process lasts anywhere from four to six months or even more.
There is a lot of musical talent in Dubai. How do you think can it be channeled in the right direction?
The best way, I feel, is to use social media and online marketing to network with the right people. This city provides a great mix of people. When singers or any artiste asks me how to market themselves I always encourage them to create a website of their own to showcase their talent. A good website will never let you down.
You have been involved in theatre too. What is the biggest hurdle when it comes to promoting local theatre?
Associating myself with theater is one of the best things I have done so far. Theatre not only improves you as an actor or director. It also disciplines you as a person. Through theatre one learns attributes such as time management, voice modulation and stage presence. The biggest hurdle is time investment. To put up a good show one should give at least two months of involvement. In spite of many locally produced plays taking place in this city local theatre is yet to get the recognition it deserves is because of lack of scheduling. There needs to be a proper theater calendar spread out for over a period of few weeks of months. Besides there should be good theatre festivals backed by strong marketing to make people aware of the talent available here.
In writing, acting and direction, who are your role models?
I love Paulo Coelho for his writing style is very straight forward and he uses simple English diction where reader can easily relate himself with the story. In films, I love Gulzar saab because of his strong usage of words. Dilip Kumar and Tabu have been my role models in acting; the way they involve themselves in the character is just phenomenal. On the direction front I greatly admire Raj Kapoor, his style of direction where even a small role has its importance and leaves behind a message is a great lesson for young filmmakers.
What are your current projects?
I am working on a documentary and have my eyes set on some of the big international film festivals. As for books, next year will witness launch of two books, Yes… Sometimes shit happens in life’ which is an extension of my first book Life @ 27. Bayan-e-Mir is a collection of Urdu poetry written by me. I intend to have this book translated in many languages including Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit.