Mayi Ri director, Meesam Naqvi spoke specifically about how he is is not glorifying child marriages & lots more. Read on to find out!
Meesam Naqvi is another gem from the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) with a diploma in Theatre Arts. He has acted in many well-known productions by NAPA and in plays such as Sultan Ka Faisla, Beech Bahar ki Raat ka Sapna, Dark Room and Marat/Sade. Meesam has also directed for theatre, including the acclaimed production of Vijay Tendulkar’s play Kamla. He has acted in and directed plays for television and most recently has worked as Assistant Director in Pakistani films Chambaili, Karachi say Lahore and Hijrat.
He has directed the drama Betiyan and also the most talked about drama currently – Mayi Ri. Mayi Ri talks about the heart wrenching journey of a child bride. It courageously aims to challenge cultural boundaries and inspire a sense of responsibility as a society. Produced by Dr. Ali Kazmi and Fahad Mustafa, the project aims to change societal mindsets, is directed by Meesam Naqvi with its concept, storyline and characterization by Sana Fahad.
He visitied FUCHSIA HQ to dive deep into the drama Mayi Ri and here is what he spoke about:
Casting Samar & Aina!
About the casting, he shared: “The channel had given recommendations, one thing was for sure, we wanted actors the same age as the roles of the kids required for the script.” He was full of praises for Aina, the 14 year old child star who is at such a young age seen in so many audience favorite dramas. Albeit her age, Meesam says: “what a kid! she is so young and yet so talented and very mature. Meri bachi ke tarha hai, I am often mesmerised by her performance. I had seen her Hum Tum and Pinjra, then I met her and when we gave her audition, I was sold and I said yes.”
“For Fakhir’s character there were a lot of names suggested but I wanted somebody raw. Jismay industry ke chalakiyan na hou, jiska focus sirf yeh hou. We had a lot of auditions, Samar came in, he had this calmness in him, he looked very sorted. Samar knew what he was doing. He has the ability to focus steadily in one direction. Mujhay bachay mai innocence chahye thi.” He revealed he had called both Aina and Samar to practice a scene to figure out the chemistry between them. Turns out both had known each other, had also done a couple of commercials together and were friends. “I was 100% sure I wanted them. The bonding, friendship was there and now I thank God for this decision.”
Staying Connected To The Youth
Personally he says he feels really connected to the youth, while narrating a poem of Allama Iqbal: “Khirad Ko Ghulaami Say Azad Kar, Jawano Ko Peero Ka Ustad Kar.” He went on to elaborate, “Noujawan nasal bohat sharp hai, humay unsay seekhna paray ga aur unhay ehmiat deni paray ge. Mai rasmo riwaj kay khilaf nae hou but I am of the school of thought if a woman is going out, I will open the door for her but it’s not a gender bias thing. It’s just humay ehtram karna sikhaya hai. App apni identity ko na khoye but jo ghalat cheezay hai unko khatam karay, jaisay early marriage kay nuqsaan hai tou wo mat karay. “
Maya Khan’s Casting
He revealed, actually for Ayesha’s character they had initially approached Hadiqa Kiani but since she had prior commitments and was busy, they had to think of some one new. The director, Meesam Naqvi was insistent on not casting a run-of-the mill actor. He wanted some one who would portray the innocence and “Maya Khan’s energy was highly obvious and right there, she had cultivated a great understanding with everybody else on set and when she enters a room, she wakes everyone up. She is full of positive vibes and did a great job even when there is clearly such a high contrast between her personality and the character she is playing.”
His Dream Come True Working With Noman Ijaz & Maria Wasti
He said it was a “dream come true to work with Noman Ijaz, he is a very down to earth man, a very intelligent person. He called me from Canada and asked me what I wanted from him, I said mujhay app ek aam insaan chahye, logo nay aap ko politician, wadera dekha hai and we had a discussion for the next 30 minutes about what I wanted from him as an actor playing an ordinary human being. “
While he said the following about Maria Wasti: “Mai unn say naraz bhi houn bohat khush bhi houn,” when asked why, he quipped: “Late bohat ati hai but as an actress and human being, l love her. She challenges you, bara maza ata hai when she argues about the scene to improve things, I am indebted to her”
Is Mayi Ri Glorifying Child Marriages?
When asked about the current feedback the drama is receiving about glorifying child marriages, he said: “The viewership of each episode is around eight to nine million. Within one night, one episode will have four to five million, Alhumdulillah. So, eight million people are just watching it on YouTube; that audience is separate from those who watch it on TV. So, if my average ratio for an audience is 2 million for e.g. the 2300 comments out of those 2 million are saying this, then I do not call this glorification. These are those comments by those who say, ‘We only watch Annie and Fakhir’s scenes.’ Now, you need to understand those who are watching those scenes are watching a different story.”
He further added: “This is the kind of home where everyone got married at a young age and is continuously saying this. So, whichever character has been married early, all those characters are dysfunctional … they all have trauma … Annie and Fakhir both are victims. So, if now they are consoling each other, I’m not glorifying child marriage.” He also revealed, there was a line in the script which required a scene where the father raises his hand on the daughter, “I disagreed with it and with having anybody raise a hand at a girl in my script (unless the script directly requires it) So I tweaked it a bit and we see Fakhir stopping the father. People are fantasising it, terming it as ideal husband behaviour because we don’t see it in society – anybody raising their voice for a woman, so when we see it, we idolize it, even though this is the bare minimum.
“I am trying to show two good human beings!” When Fakhir takes a stand for Annie, he tells her he would have done the same if it was another girl too. So I am not glorifying child marriage but showing how they are both good human beings. Positive criticism though is always welcome.” He also said, “Annie’s character is developing and she will take a stand for her sister and the character development is evident because she couldn’t do the same for herself, at her own time. “
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