Faraz Waqar – Mind behind “OTHER-ISTAN”
“I am a filmmaker who aims to build an exclusive ‘brand’ of Pakistan by re-launching it in a fresh and contemporary manner to reclaim our identity as Pakistani’s for people residing outside its borders who so far have only viewed it from the narrow lens of the international propaganda & news channels.”
Faraz Waqar was born and raised in a middle class, single parent household in Karachi. His father worked for Saudi Airlines before he passed away when Faraz was 5. Ever since, he has his father’s dream engraved in his heart-.to give up his 9 to 5 job, study film & media and become a freelance war correspondent and news anchor for global news channels, travel the hot spots of the world, and live an exciting life.
Being the eldest male of the family, he sacrificed his dream of filmmaking, and pursued a business degree to quickly assume financial responsibility of his family by getting a stable 9 to 5 job in the corporate sector.
From the very beginning, even as a kid, he had heard it being commonly discussed in our society that foreign media is bent on painting a negative picture of Pakistan especially after 9/11 when the country was thrust into the limelight for all the wrong reasons. He wanted to use and direct his passion for filmmaking to employing it as a counter tool to the negative propaganda that Pakistan was being targeted with.
Thus far, all his films have a social or political message aimed at people who have never visited Pakistan and view it through the lens of international. His objective has always remained constant – building the brand image of Pakistan. Be it by making a music film dedicated to Nazia Hassan or a fiction film that makes a foreign audience introspect on the reasons their media may be painting a negative picture of Pakistan or just a light-hearted documentary to show how beautiful Pakistan and its Pakistani people are.
Faraz is now an accomplished filmmaker, brand and Marketing professional, based in the UAE for the past 7 years. He bagged the HUM TV Award as an upcoming filmmaker for a festival film that has been screened in France, Canada and Pakistan.
His film ‘9:11 am’ was one of the only two films from Pakistani Directors showcased at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012 as part of the Cannes Short Films Corner.
His latest work is a documentary ‘OTHER-ISTAN` – The other face of Pakistan’ that’s aims to promote a positive face of Pakistan to an international audience and its made out of pure love for the warm, tolerant, loving, friendly and beautiful country & culture he was raised in.
“We are a wonderful country and culture that has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, as a people we have underestimated our own selves, our country, culture and its environment.”
His work speaks for itself and he has promised himself to continue this spirit and agenda in future as well. To change the image of a backward, poor, illiterate and dangerous Pakistan in the minds of the people of the outside world does not only require real work on-ground to change our reality but also requires simultaneous work on the media front to project a positive, friendly and progressive view of our country.
Faraz believes that there are so many issues in Pakistan that filmmakers can raise at the global level that plays into the hands of foreign media with an agenda of always painting a stereotypical picture of a country plagued by fanaticism, violence and oppression of women and minorities.
There is a long list of stereotypes Faraz wants broken and stigmas removed, but the one that he would like to be broken before any other, is the international image of Pakistan as one of the most dangerous places in the world, that tourists are reluctant to enter the country and how the world perceives Pakistan to be an unprogressive, violent, intolerant and oppressive culture. He is constantly doing his bit to tell people about the Pakistan he grew up in and how it has progressed over the years.
Faraz is also the founder of ‘Pakistani Media Professionals in the UAE’, a group that aims to bring together UAE based Pakistani writers, directors, cinematographers, musicians, actors and creative talent resident in the UAE. The UAE has a significant Pakistani population and the group he has been founded to bring the immense talent within the community to connect, collaborate and create new projects that showcase the contributions and creativity of this community within the UAE and abroad.
He is also an active participant and member of several South Asian theatre groups within the UAE that promote the revival of the Urdu language, heritage and culture in a contemporary manner. Most recently, he acted in an Indo-Pak theatre play by the theatre group Goonj, called ‘Mian Biwi Aur Wagah’, an original Urdu play, written and directed by UAE based talent from India and Pakistan that was performed during the independence week of both countries in Dubai’s Alserkal art district.
“As a filmmaker I feel my biggest contribution is to be that person who is recognized as having a strong
agenda of projecting a positive view of Pakistan to the outside world. This is obvious from all the work I
have done in film so far and my future projects will continue to carry that spirit and agenda as well.”
Written by Salman Bokhari