In­spired by his­tory

Friday - - Society -

spoke to fam­ily, friends, Emi­ratis he met at film screen­ings and quizzed them about what they were look­ing for in a film.

“My new film, which I have scripted Bani Adam (mean­ing hu­man be­ing, in Ara­bic) has many el­e­ments of life that Emi­ratis find in­ter­est­ing,” says Ma­jid. “So we have en­durance horse races, which are very pop­u­lar; ghostly ap­pari­tions ( djinns) that ac­cord­ing to our so­ci­ety lead peo­ple astray; the pop­u­lar Emi­rati sen­ti­ment of help­ing our fam­ily and friends; the close bonds two friends share but how one woman who both love comes be­tween them... It took me some time to in­cor­po­rate such dis­parate el­e­ments into a co­her­ent story, but Bani Adam is proof that it can be done.”

There is com­edy, drama, ac­tion, “a lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing for every­body,” says Ma­jid, who took the film to the Gulf Film Fes­ti­val in April. “The au­di­ence gen­er­ally liked it but sug­gested some changes,” he says. “I took the au­di­ence’s opin­ion to heart. A few view­ers sug­gested that it could a bit shorter, so I edited a few min­utes of film where they sug­gested it lagged.”

At two hours and 10 min­utes, Bani Adam is a long film, but Ma­jid feels it is jus­ti­fied. “You have to build a story, you can’t just rush through the plot,” he says. “It is a dra­matic film about the guilt of a man who com­mit­ted a crime when he was young, and the doubts peo­ple put in his mind about a woman he loves, and about his clos­est friend. There is a comic vein run­ning through­out so you are not en­gulfed by the tragic el­e­ments in the story. En­ter­tain­ment is guar­an­teed, no bore­dom!” Ma­jid is al­ready look­ing ahead to his next cre­ative ven­ture, a process that takes time. How does he get his ideas? “I am a loner and a trav­eller,” he smiles. “I travel alone when on my cre­ative pur­suits. I was trav­el­ling in many parts of In­dia and the UAE when I was writ­ing Bani Adam. It gives me in­sights into hu­man na­ture, and sit­u­a­tions that I can use in my sto­ries.”

He’s al­ways look­ing for back­drops and lo­ca­tions too. His pas­sion for his­toric Bas­takiya in Dubai is still as it was when he was grow­ing up there, as is his love of the desert. “I grew up play­ing and swim­ming in the Dubai Creek; can you imag­ine that now?!” he laughs.

He moved to Bom­bay (now Mum­bai), when he was six. “I used to en­joy watch­ing Bol­ly­wood movies when I was kid there,’’ he says. “I guess my pas­sion for movies was born there.

“In those days Emi­rati fam­i­lies had busi­ness con­nec­tions in In­dia or Pak­istan, and ours was in Bom­bay,” he says. “So from a lo­cal school here I went to an English medium school in Ban­dra, Mum­bai. I lived there with my folks un­til I was 13.”

Ma­jid of­ten re­lates sto­ries about his life in In­dia to his grand­chil­dren – such as go­ing to watch Hindi movies with friends and fam­ily, eat­ing the fa­mous street food of Mum­bai and tak­ing in the sights and sounds of the city.

“Some­times I feel the fight to makes movies here isn’t worth it,” he says. “But it’s my pas­sion for film that drives me.”

What he finds even more ex­haust­ing is fight­ing the taboo that films are as­so­ci­ated with in Emi­rati so­ci­ety. “My fam­ily still does not ap­prove of my in­ter­est in film,” he says. “They may see my films but they will never dis­cuss them with me or ap­prove of them.”

Ma­jid’s pas­sion now is to see how he can break new ground in cre­at­ing an au­di­ence for Emi­rati films. “There are a lot of ta­lented film-mak­ers here, but where are the au­di­ence, and the cine­mas to ex­hibit?” he asks. “I am lucky I was able to re­lease my films, but I know many of them face an up­hill task to even re­lease their films be­cause there is still no big au­di­ence to watch them. The only way is to make great films that will find their own au­di­ence.” @Shiva_fri­day

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