Someone once uttered these profound words about film making, “Take the clapper and become the alarm that the world so desperately needs.”
Raza Shah, the resonating whisper behind the cinema curtains, a man among men, the voice of passion in a silenced hall, took this a little too seriously. It was on one of his busiest days that we met Raza Shah, the magician’s wand working behind screen. Exuberant, zippy and light hearted, we never experienced a dull moment with him.
His initial years
Projecting his handycam as a prized possession that drew him towards film making in Islamabad, he looked back with fond reminiscence to the days he used to make conceptual videos with his friends. He described Lums Olympiad as a plot twist in his personal journey. Shah’s school sent him as a representative to the competition and the sole purpose of his existence became the strive to carve as exceptional video. He admitted that even though he received a good response, his bitterness at securing the second position prodded him to return the next year(finally ending up with the first prize!) He characterized those years as being carefree and breezy.”It got cemented in my mind that this was my purpose in life”.
However, his ambitious engagements with film making became a huge distraction in the face of his academics, leading him to fail his AS levels.
We inquired about his sentiments regarding him failing AS, to which he replied,
“Grades rarely matter. It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know. It’s not about hard work, it’s about networks. Failure itself is an ultimate way towards success.”
His optimistic approach towards failure rendered us speechless and evoked hope within us. He harboured the belief that a man creates his own destiny and proposed the urgent need to hunt for a solution when one feels stuck in life. But above all, he emphasized on the need to accept failure,“Mere nazdeek woh insaan failure hai jo sirf baatain keray Aur kaam say bhagay.”
All the personalities we previously interviewed had an unwavering belief in the existence of snakes aka hypocrites. Raza Shah, however, blatantly refused to do so.“Snakes nae hote yar!”
Being quite blunt and straightforward, he stated that no one owes anyone anything in professional life and the society is too busy being self interested. He, however, regarded the identification and expellment of toxic people as a must. Being a bit poetic, he quote,
“Mudai laakh bura chahay Kia hota hay? Wohi hota hai jo manzoor e Khuda hota hai! “
Raza Shah proclaimed his best friend, Feroz, as his his major source of motivation and inspiration. He acknowledged the life changing role his friend had played in his youth since NCA days. “Our stories are intertwined together.”
Life as a film director
Our team asked Raza Shah whether a director’s lack of publicity bothered him. His answer arrived instantaneously, “You sign up to not be in the spotlight as a director.”
He then launched into the technicalities surrounding his profession. One of the many great projects he has done is finding and blending the talented Abid Brohi in Sibbi Song for SomewhatSuper, an electronic music duo which is a pioneer in Pakistan’s edm industry, headed by Talha Dar and Feroz Faisal. He stressed upon the necessity of being specialized in one aspect of film making which you can then pursue as a career. Film making requires a whole team and infrastructure, mentioned he. “As a director, my work is decision making.”
Magic of cinematography
With sparkling radiant eyes, Shah spoke about his ideal ‘Steven Spielberg’ and pronounced him as a man who captures the magic of cinema. Being a genie behind film making himself, Raza described cinematography as a relief from the bitter realities of everyday life.
“All of my work is put together like a dream. I tend to base it on the fleeting memories of someone.”
Lowest point in life?
Shah recounted his plunge into the real world after graduation as turbulent years. He solemnly declared that there are zero opportunities and platforms in the initial stage.
In a rather serious tone, he talked about the many projects of his that had failed after graduation. He also spoke about the gradual disintegration of his built up ego and the way he had undergone growth only after the ego had ceased to be. “Ya toh app failure ko overcome ker lete ho ya phir pagal hojate ho.”
Rather nervously, he laughed off the question initially but then admitted his biggest fear as being that of the scary inevitability of not being able to find a brand new project. He also expressed the unpredictability of the outcome of a project and the mild phobia he fostered about it not piecing out accurately. However, persisting as a fearless optimist, he exclaimed,
Mai akhri minute tak rastay nikalta rehta hoon, bhai!”
And so went our interview with Raza Shah, this sanguine man who also happens to be the genie behind your television screens.