Think­ing big

Friday - - Society -

Ma­jid Ab­dul Razak main­tains a cool fa­cade, but un­der­neath the calm­ness lies a bub­bling anx­i­ety and ex­cite­ment. “You know how it is,” he says in his mea­sured sonorous tones as be­fits a lead­ing man. “There is ex­cite­ment when a film is about to be re­leased, and wher­ever in the world you are, the producers, the di­rec­tors, the ac­tors, every­body con­nected with the film will be ex­cited on the eve of the re­lease. And I too am very ex­cited.”

Ac­tu­ally Ma­jid is ex­cited four times over: he’s the pro­ducer, di­rec­tor, writer and ac­tor of Bani Adam, the 11th full-length Emi­rati fea­ture film to be made in the UAE. And hav­ing made three of those 11 films, he’s re­spon­si­ble for more than a quar­ter of the na­tional out­put. Not bad for a man who isn’t qual­i­fied in the craft.

“I was never a film-maker. I had no ex­pe­ri­ence or knowl­edge of the craft,” he con­fesses. “It was Alexan­dre Du­mas’ French clas­sic The Count ofMonte Cristo that got me in­ter­ested in films.

“I was 13 when I first read the English trans­la­tion and it changed my life,” he says. “I was fas­ci­nated by it, and even now I have a copy, which I reread of­ten. It is so pro­found and cov­ers a vast ar­ray of sub­jects, but above all it is so en­ter­tain­ing.

“The film ver­sions of the novel give the im­pres­sion the book is all fluff, a swash­buck­ler filled with sword fights. The book is ac­tu­ally about the tragedies that be­fall hu­mans.

“It was my dream, even at that young age, to do some­thing with the story. I didn’t know what it would be, only that I was so con­sumed with the story that I had to ex­press it in some cre­ative man­ner.” The story stayed with him as he grew up, and even af­ter he started his bbe­spokek fur­ni­turef i bbusi­ness,i MMa­jid­jid Ab­dulAbd l RRazak k Fur­ni­ture, in Dubai when he was 24 us­ing sav­ings from a job in a bank.

Ma­jid mir­rored his hero from the book Ed­mond Dan­tès in his sin­gle-minded pur­suit of his goal. Af­ter mak­ing the busi­ness a suc­cess, he sold it 25 years later, and de­cided to re­ward him­self for all the hard work by mak­ing a film based on his favourite story.

“Most peo­ple would have bought a yacht or a villa,” he says. “I didn’t have any such de­sires. I just wanted to bring the story alive on screen.” Ma­jid en­rolled in a film-mak­ing course, but didn’t feel it was prac­ti­cal enough so quit half­way through. He de­cided to go ahead and make the film any­way. A man with a big vi­sion, he de­cided to make three ver­sions for three coun­tries – the UAE, Iran and Pak­istan – with three dif­fer­ent casts and in three dif­fer­ent lan­guages, but shot in the same lo­ca­tion.

Ma­jid didn’t stop to think about his in­ex­pe­ri­ence. “If I did I wouldn’t have ever got into film-mak­ing,” he smiles. “Some­one with ex­pe­ri­ence wouldn’t have un­der­taken such a huge project. But I had rea­sons for do­ing three ver­sions: one was that the UAE mar­ket was not big enough to sus­tain a film com­mer­cially. That’s why I de­cided to tar­get three mar­kets with one film.

“We started shoot­ing the three films in 2004. I played the lead in all three, speak­ing in Urdu, Farsi and Ara­bic. It wasn’t easy, and I am no ac­tor. But there were some high­lights – the Ara­bic ver­sion had a cli­max scene shot on top of the Burj Al Arab.”

The shoot wasn’t with­out hic­cups. “I wanted to com­plete the films in three months,” Ma­jid

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.