Ye Zindagi Hai Gulshan: Going Beyond stereotype
MUSHTAQ BALA TALKS ABOUT HIS WORKS OLD AND NEW, FINISHED AND UNFINISHED WITH MUHAMMAD TAHIR FOR GK MAGAZINE
Mushtaq Bala has a queer penchant for perfection and it reflects in the way he has furnished his office in a building at Regal Chowk. In his mid-size office, beta tapes, laminated certificates, trophies and souvenirs bedeck the shelves on his left. A lowered white lamp hovers just above his head illuminating his bulging expressive eyes and his fine-cut hair style. The high glow of the white lamp reflects from the black-finished table and enhances the ambiance of the place. And it is within this stimulating space where most of his creative works have taken birth.
On 28th February 2012 when mega serial Ye Zindagi Hai Gulshan was telecast on Doordarshan National a dream was fulfilled for Mushtaq Bala, renowned filmmaker from Kashmir. “It was a great achievement for me” is how he describes the feeling on being telecast on a channel that has staggering over 300 million viewers.
Ye Zindagi Hai Gulshan is a joint production of Mr. Bala’s Debonair Film and Video Communications and Firstrate Creations, owned by Suhaib Ilyasi (of India’s Most Wanted fame). Featuring well-known actors like Raza Murad, Pankaj Dheer, Zarina Wahab and Anang Desai the serial is telecasted every Sunday at 8.30 PM. The response to the serial has been so huge that Delhi studio of Doordarshan received phone calls from viewers asking why the serial is not telecast daily.
“In the serial, we are trying to show posh Muslim life, not usual stereotypical stuff” says Mushtaq. Revolving around a Muslim family with ideological variations the serial breaks through formidable discourse on Muslim community as unchanging and orthodox monolith. It tries to show, through the characters of three sisters Sadiya, Safiya and Shazia, that Muslim families are as dynamic as any other social institution and what stock portrayals of them are showcased on-screen needs to be changed.
Born in Saraf Kadal Srinagar in 1955, Mushtaq Bala was second among the five children (three sisters and two brothers) of Ghulam Ahmad Bala, a handicrafts businessman. He attended D.A.V school at Magarmal Bagh and later joined Amar Singh College for his B.A.
Mushtaq forayed into media quite young. Just under 20 he turned up for an audition in Doordarshan Srinagar in 1975, the initial years of the station, got selected and worked in several small assignments. “But since we had a family business, I had to join my father in his handicrafts store” he says adding: “those days you could not make a living out of acting profession”.
The experience at his family store Bala Sons situated in commercial hub Lal Chowk was edifying, though. Being in proximity with cultural avenues of the city gave him exposure. “I was around with people elder and that is why I think I grew mature when I was young. And that helped me in a way” he says.
Ironically, for Mushtaq the turning point came in 1989 when the whole valley was caught up in violent turmoil. His family business got disturbed and he was thrown out of income.
“My friends in media invited me back, saying you have the potential, if you combine your business acumen and creativity you will come out successful”. Getting proper response and opportunities to exploit his creative reservoir, Mushtaq made his first serial Rishton Ka Fariab for Doordarshan Srinagar telecasted in 1994. There was no difficulty in getting work afterwards. Offers kept pouring in from different quarters like Doordarshan, Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts, Films Division etc.
After producing numerous tele-serials Mushtaq experimented with other genres also, like radio, documentaries, musical programmes, devotional programmes, quiz programmes and short films. “Grimm Bandu Ki Kahanniya” was his adaption of master literary works by Grimm Brothers turned into a twenty six episode radio serial for All India Radio, New Delhi. Hans Andersen’s stories were also adapted by him for his tele-series “Hans Andersen Ki Kahaniyan”.
Asked what he focuses more on when he takes up a project, Mushtaq, in his moderate voice replies: “I see to it that the writer should be capable to understand the essence of the story and write it with conviction”. And perhaps this eye for perfection and quality is the reason why Mushtaq has reached the heights of his career and received several awards. Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages in 2007 honored him with a State Award for his “Purana Ghar”. His film “Budshah” was screened in 2008 Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) and received Ozone Green Award. Now his 52 minute film “Ancient Architectural Styles of Kashmir” has been shortlisted for screening in MIFF 2012.
Mushtaq’s fair face was glowing through contrasting black shirt worn under a teal jacket. He was upbeat and was preparing to leave for Mumbai on next day flight. For twenty days a month he stays in Mumbai monitoring the shoot of Ye Zindagi Hai Gulshan.
When asked was it difficult to handle such a project, he replied: “It definitely was hard working for this kind of project, but then when you work with a team of professionals you enjoy it”
“I am working on a feature film, based on Kashmir situation. It will be story of two families separated by LOC and how they meet after Kaman Bridge is opened in 2005. Inshallah, we will begin to shoot in October this year” he says.
Apart from the ambitious project of feature film Mushtaq is also planning to produce a T.V adaptation of Quratul Ain Hyder’s novel Agle Janam Humay Beti Na Kijiyo.
Well, lets us wait and watch what new gems emanate from this creative reservoir.
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Lastupdate on : Thu, 19 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 19 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 20 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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