Jami Mahmood, director of Moor, has said that he is “a bit of” a feminist. That’s more of a concession than most men would care to give.
In an interview with BBC Urdu, Jami talked about some of his female-driven projects, ranging from the first music video he ever made to his latest feature film, Moor.
Talking about Moor (that translates as Motherland), he said that the film is a love story that shows three generations of women — a mother, a girlfriend, a dadi/nani — who are the ones saving the country, whereas It’s the men who have gone off-track and taken to corrupt means and destroying it. He added that he believes it’s the women, “whose DNA is life-giving”, who can save Pakistan.
Moor joined Jami’s series of other feminist projects, such as his very first music video for a Najam Sheraz song ‘Pal Do Pal’ in 1999, which featured Iraj Manzoor on a hunt for the man who promised her his heart. When Najam approached Jami for the song, the video’s concept was limited to the woman being driven to madness by the man’s abandonment, but Jami recalls wondering “Auratein pagal honay ke liye bani hai?” He then worked on the story, and had the female character track the man down and cut his heart out literally. “It was a feminist video. Humne thora sa auratein ko aagay rakha hai.”
Jami’s non-commercial work has always been a little metaphorical, due to which some people have had trouble understanding his films. Jami laments the fact that audiences in Pakistan tend to watch a film through Bollywood glasses.
“When we started making Moor four years ago, there were only three cinemas that could screen the film. So we thought “Pesay nahi kama paye gey, hum izzat hee kama le,” Jami shared.
He said that while there have been viewers who’ve demanded their money back, there have been others, like students of KU, who have appreciated the nitty-gritties of the production. He said it’s his right to entertain his target audience, even if it’s very small.
Elaborating on the difficulty of making Moor, he said it was as if he was making a film on Raymond Davis.
“Getting permission for the film was very difficult,” Jami reveals, “We had to get okay’d from every department, and even then people would get arrested and the shoot would get packed up for three days. It’s like climbing Mt. Everest. Ya to marna hai ya pahar hai. (You either face death or the climb.) That’s how you get glory.”