Nepotism is in every industry: Azfar Jafri

From blockbuster ‘Sher Dil’ to the hit romantic-comedy ‘Parchi’, Azfar Jafri has directed one of the most popular films in Pakistani cinema.

Azfar Jafri made his debut with his horror film ‘Siyaah’, and later in 2013 rose to more prominence with ‘Janaan’ staring Armeena Khan and Bilal Ashraf. He has directed and produced several short movies, music videos, and documentaries but his work in Computer-Generated (CG) background makes him unique in the film industry. We spoke to him to find out more about the fate of Pakistani cinema and the life of a director. 

MM: What does being a director means to you?

Azfar Jafri: Being a director is like being a light bearer in a society. You have a responsibility on your shoulders of sharing knowledge and wisdom with the people in the form of authentic stories.

What was your favorite movie as a child?

Azfar Jafri: Indiana Jones.

Who is your favorite director today?

Azfar Jafri: David Fincher.

How did you get involved in filmmaking?

Azfar Jafri: As a child, I was fascinated by computer games and that led my interest in animation which I pursued as a profession. I eventually became a CG Artist and worked on several international projects before transitioning into live-action films.

What challenges did you face in the beginning?

Azfar Jafri: Since the industry and the infrastructure almost did not exist when I started directing, I found it really hard to execute my ideas. I had to compromise most of the time due to budget constraints or lack of shooting space. However, I relied on my CG background and managed to improvise and create something that was still presentable and entertaining. 

What do you keep in mind while casting actors for your films?

Azfar Jafri: Acting
Adaptability
Attitude

What’s your take on nepotism in the film industry?

Azfar Jafri: I think nepotism is in every industry. But if someone is good at something he/she should get a chance to prove it whether that person is related/connected to anyone in the team or not. But it’s not professional neither it’s fair if the person lacks the talent and still gets the job.

What is your ultimate goal as a screenwriter?

Azfar Jafri: The goal is to write whatever is realistically possible. If you write something without thinking about how it will be executed, it will bomb on the sets, which usually leads to compromises.

Strong script or an item song, which do you think draws audiences more?

Azfar Jafri: The audience is drawn towards emotions the most, therefore, a strong script is a must. If a song is forced into a screenplay just to grab attention then it’s obvious that the story is weak. Although sometimes, the song becomes necessary to move the story forward, there’s no harm in using it then. Yet, the lyrics and visuals shouldn’t objectify anyone in it.

How far is Pakistan from making its own first 3D film?

Azfar Jafri: It is only a matter of taking the step. We have the technology, we just need a good story to go with it. We have had 3D animated films produced already, such as Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor, which clearly shows that we have the power to create anything.

Three things you want to see a change in our film industry?

Azfar Jafri: Good screenwriters.
A transparent distribution platform.
A proper functioning association that can protect the rights of artists.

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