woman@work

I knew Nina Kashif since she was a producer at a local TV channel. My first interaction with her was at the press conference of a film. For information about the film, I was directed to talk to Nina Kashif and in a couple of minutes I was in front of a young and attractive lady with an amicable smile on her face. Later we kept on meeting on and off and she was always helpful and accommodating.

Recently, this enthusiastic workaholic has joined hands with the stalwart of industry Mahira Khan as a co-founder of Soul Fry films. Working with Mahira, she tells a tale of their long relationship. Both know each other for last 15 years from MTV Pakistan, where they started their careers. Khan was a DJ and she was program manager. Then in MD Productions, Kashif was the senior producer of Mahira’s most famous play Hamsafar. After working in a private channel for five years where she produced biopics like Aik Thi Marium and Baaghi, she established her own Production Company; Nina Kashif Productions under which she produced drama serial Hum Kahan Ke Sachay Thay with Mahira Khan as lead. In Soul Fry Films, she and Khan has made yet another powerful duo of women producers in the industry. The company has yet produced a telefilm Aik Hai Nigar, and the recent one, Baarwan Khiladi a web series for on OTT platform Tapmad.

To me, this young successful woman with many feathers in her cap was much needed to be interviewed and acknowledged, especially around 8th March – where we celebrate women achievements. So, one fine day, we sat together at her place talking in detail over tea with varieties of delicious confectionaries. Here it goes…

You! Did you come into the industry with the passion of becoming a producer or discover it later?

NK: I came with the same passion and zeal but the direction changed from music to drama then to my own productions.

You! With women getting into productions more, do you think it will change the content and overall image of Pakistani entertainment industry?

NK: Yes, women are getting into productions more but still they are few in comparison to men. And yes there will be a change in the content and overall industry too, as you see now, even at a snail’s pace we are heading towards progressive content but again I feel this has nothing to do with gender of the producers, but the overall mindset of people.

You! What are the hurdles for women as producers in Pakistan?

NK: Women in the Pakistani drama industry is not a new phenomenon. Great names like Sahira Kazmi, Mehreen Jabbar, Sultana Siddiqui are all very strong, focused and dedicated ladies and the industry owes them a lot. For me, initially, it was rough but consistency and focus led me through. The major hurdles which we as women face are work-family balance. Yes, there are hurdles which need to be surpassed, but now, looking back, it was a track run well.

You! You have made many successful women centric biopics: from Aik Thi Maryum to Aik Hai Nigar. On whom do you wish to make next?

NK: Well, that’s a secret! To be honest right now it’s in a thinking phase not on papers yet. There are actually two stories I am looking at but not sure which one will come out first as for biopics and productions on true events, the whole process of NOCs and legalities take time.

You! You established Soul Fry Films. Whose ideas it was?

NK: Right after my serial Baaghi, Mahira and I, just over a friendly discussion, spoke about producing together. It was initially my idea and the name Soul Fry was Mahira’s idea.

You! How was it working with Mahira Khan as co-founder in a production company?

NK: I have known Mahira since MTV days, almost 15 -16 years now. So it was a good experience in a way that we understand each other, also we are very comfortable arguing with each other too! It is a fact that despite being a big star she is extremely down to earth and that helps a lot when you get down to work in any other capacity as well.

You! What was the idea behind your latest web series – ‘Baarwan Khiladi’?

NK: The primary idea behind Baarwan Khiladi (BK) was to touch on an under-tapped subject; cricket, which despite being the most watched and favourite sport of Pakistan, was almost overlooked in the entertainment world. Secondly, the OTT platform, Tapmad, on which it has been released is a sports-based platform already, has a fan base of sports lovers. It also has some entertainment material but BK is Tapmad’s first original. So, we wanted to do something sports related and there was nothing better than cricket.

You! What is the theme and story of BK?

NK: Basically the web series is composed of different stories of aspiring cricketers, which I believe are very close to reality, And yes, audiences who are die-hard cricket fans will definitely relate to it as well. The story is primarily based on two boys Akbar and Jahangir played by Danyal Zafar and Shahveer Jafry respectively. Jahangir is from a resourceful privileged family while Akber is from a very humble background with very few resources. BK is a journey of both depicting the internal politics and monopoly they face in reaching their goals. The role of the coach is very important in the series played fantastically by Sarmad Khoosat. We have two important cameos of Fawad Khan and Shoaib Malik in the series as well. Though it is primarily a male-centric story but it also has crucial n substantial roles of girls though for a short time.

You! Tell us little about introducing new actors in the series?

NK: We prefer to select new boys for the cricket team in the series. Every actor has auditioned before. Shahveer Jafry was the first one to be auditioned though he was already famous on YouTube, where I found his body language was perfect for the character but I was not sure about his acting skills. The audition he sent us was fantastic, in which he kept all his apprehensions aside. Even Danyal Zafar made his debut on BK. We have many other new and brilliant boys who would be known through our product.

You! How do you keep balance between work and family?

NK: Throughout my career, my kids grew up from school going kids to mature adults, but meanwhile I made sure to attend most of their parents-teacher meetings, sports days, graduations and some vacations too. It was fun and satisfying to see them grow but it took a lot of hard work, multi-tasking and interestingly, physical agility to just be present.

You! Despite being an established producer, who has many successful projects to her credit, you keep a very low profile. Why?

NK: There are two reasons for this. One, I believe that your work should speak for itself more than you. Secondly, I am a bit reserved by nature and I like keeping a low profile. Having said that, however, I don’t mind coming out of my comfort zone where it is needed or required.

This content was originally published here.

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