Tag Archives: Islamabad

A Gulp of Fresh Life

Despite all the twists and turns in my erratic, newbie and completely self-indulgent journey as a blogger, despite all the ten-thousand eye-burning nitty-gritty visual tweaks and CSS guesswork I’ve waded through, I still have the urge to SCRAPPPP it all and just sign up for that liberating, free wordpress blog with the most barebones theme ever.

Even now, I’m challenging myself to just WRITE instead of having to make a photo-essay out of everything, from baking, to putting a show-reel up, to reading at a cafe.

If there’s any guarantee in life, it’s that one season will be drastically different from another.

As I sat in my first few months of glaring, unabashed unemployment, attached to my duvet like a mushroom caught in melted cheese, I knew, that no matter how operatically and richly full the experience of sharing aesthetically charged vignettes of my life was making me feel; no matter how hooked I became day by day, that all this would simply disappear and be replaced by something else very soon.

And hey presto.

Movement and coordination suddenly took over my life. Travel. Budget. Money transfer. Shot list. Line Up. Paperwork. These were my stoic and distinctly un-malleable friends for the last two-three weeks. It’s really funny that people used to think, in the later years of school, that I must be sensible and practical because I have a knack for maths. Yes, my mind clung around the conceptual beauty of the infinity of calculus and the symmetry of quadratics, but it seems that (with age) I increasingly turn into a flashing red lightbulb as anything to do with logistics approaches. A cold panic glazes over circuits which may have been logically more nimble once, the search for a receipt turns threatens to blow the lid off tightly compressed mental compartments.

MS / WS view from Daamne-koh with Faisal Mosque, as requested

Despite juggling the logistics of two projects cramped in one week in this blind-sighted, brain-dead fashion, I’m really grateful for the experience. I got to leave town for a couple of days and breathe some fresh air. There’s nothing like a shoot to get you up early. Although I’d been to Isloo many times to visit Abba & Co. during the teenage years, I don’t think things like air quality meant quite the same thing back then as they do now.

It was also nice to work with such a regimented treatment/shot list. It’s that discipline of vision, even if it’s someone else’s, that makes you feel like you are actually getting your feet wet in the process of making a film.

Up the crystalline clarity of blue ether, cheery sun and happy hillocks we went on our second morning.

What we were really there for, though was to capture footage of local Islamabadi’s doing their thing. As my DP admitted, his one weakness is not being able to shove his camera in people’s faces. He and I, I responded, don’t really make a very good team then. I have the same problem. Nevertheless, we managed some surreptitiously obtained footage of a group of women, lurking about an ice cream stall like some highly instinctive grassland species.

After the hectic, extremely tense game of catch-and-run behind the scenes of Tehreema Mitha’s emotionally charged first performance in Pakistan after some time, the serenity of this shoot was a welcome change.

some sort of wildlife park - we definitely saw exotically gurgling birds as well as the better known isloo natives - the monkeeeeys!

I’d been violently sick just the day before leaving for Islamabad and catching a 7 am flight. The combination of my strange, twitchy phobia of drips, the dread and panic of a migraine, the rapid exiting of verve and energy from your body (regurgitation) and a feeling of not being totally prepared for the next day with a subject who I haven’t even met yet, was all enough to terrify any possibility of sleep out of me that night. I was, for lack of a better word, simply smashed the next day. The quiet of my hotel room coupled with hot water, a change, two cups of room service coffee interspersed with one green tea (while juggling a meeting with a DP I had to brief (and meet) for the first time as well as the hyper-vigilant telephone monitoring of it all by my US-based producer) was minimally necessary to trick myself into thinking I could make it through the day.

Lens flare: easy on a silent, empty stage. illusive on the brink of performance

I’m glad its over, and I’m glad I squeezed it all in. I don’t think I’ll ever trust my self enough, (except maybe deep-down inside in some very instinctive place), to not stress out on a shoot like this. I know I have become somewhat better at trusting my cameraman. The skill of communicating the feel of the shot, so that its communicated from that deep-down grueling pit of fuel, while still making him feel like its his creation, is something to be reckoned with. Perhaps the root of overflowing layers of anxiety, though, is that, very frankly, I still have sublime expectations of every shoot, and I need to level with the equipment and resources available. And then there’s the people. The people who need to be captured, who become completely different creatures when on the other side of lens. More importantly, I become a freak show, a sort of sullen anxiety-ridden peacock, a wildly probing force that’s trying to balance a circus of physical toil, blustering life, the precision of sound recording, and the expectation of immaculate beauty.


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