Zainab Hussain

Zainab Hussain

at dinner parties I like to talk about how masculinity is a prison, gender isn't real, time doesn't exist, virginity is a construct & Jesus wasn't white
Zainab Hussain

Recently a documentary is released which primarily focuses on the laborers and the problem they face.As it is really different from mainstream media we thought we should feature it here at SP.Here is the insightful interview of the Director who is as passionate as anything.

-Can you introduce yourself and your project as well as tell us how it all came together?

Hello, my name’s Aleem. I’m an aspiring filmmaker from Hyderabad, Pakistan. I’ve been making these short music videos for a while now under the alias of Arcane Aesthetics but until now I had done only one documentary that was about skateboarding which was personal to me. This time it was more about something that I actually saw happening myself but it did not affect me, just as it didn’t affect the rest of the people except those Labourers themselves. I just decided to put it out there for people to know. I’ll go into detail later.

– As a first time director, who has been involved in other projects, was the process what you expected?

This was the first time I was involved in something that was more serious, I knew that I could not let my filmmaking or aesthetic sense dictate entirely what the film was about even though I found the right balance for it. At first I had nothing on my mind, I did not expect anything and unlike my previous projects I didn’t even know how I will edit the final cut. The process was completely organic, I went there with my long-time friend and collaborater Awais Baloch and we just talked to the people, got their interviews and then shot the rest of the footage. Nothing was planned, we went there in a rickshaw and just shot the whole thing in a day’s time.
We were very scared at first, due to the nature of the documentary I had to cut out a lot of things including names of the people who were exploiting these workers.


-What inspired you to get into documentary film-making?

I was never really into documentary film-making before I made my mini skateboarding documentary Lords of Nowhere. I liked watching documentaries but I never thought I would make one. The truth of it all is, I don’t have the budget to do anything else right now. If only I had the budget this documentary would have been even better. I don’t have the budget to make feature films, who’s going to produce films of a 19 year old? it sounds crazy even if I have stories to tell and the right sense to do that. So documentary film-making came up naturally, there was this idea that I could actually send a message out there and at the same time I’d be able to film it independently with zero budget. Any filmmaker would want that, filmmaking is a tough business especially in Pakistan and it’s sad that its seen as a “business” more than an art form or a form of expression. Do you think anybody would have been interested to give me money to shoot this documentary the way I wanted to and then market/promote it here? nobody, that’s why I always choose the independent way of filmmaking, Internet has made everything easier, you no longer need a distribution of that scale. Your audience does the job itself if you’re lucky. Well not to get off-topic, I wasn’t initially interested in documentary film-making but certain circumstances led me to it and now I’m extremely fascinated by it and wish to make more documentaries in the future.


-What drew you to this particular topic?

To be really honest with you? I didn’t even have a clue about this particular topic or about the lives and work ethics of these carpenters. Not a single clue. This all changed when one day, me and my friend went to a place near that market to shoot some photos and we stumbled upon these shops. The workers looked at us with confused expression on their faces as to what we were doing. Their first question was if we were from media, to which we told them no we weren’t. I told them I was doing a university project so not to scare them. One of them asked me, if you have a camera why don’t you make our video and spread our message across. I had no idea what he meant by that, he then precedded to tell me about their lives, the way they’re being exploited, their labor and everything. I and my friend were actually shocked to hear this, we didn’t know at all that the conditions were that bad. Even surprising nobody ever told us about it, nobody ever talks about this stuff so automatically I felt like it was my obligation to spread their message, I knew that I couldn’t let this go unnoticed I mean why would I? I had a camera, I had a mic so there was no chance for me to say No to a problem so serious like that. I had no other intention, I knew I loved filmmaking and I knew that if I want to make something why not do it the right way.

-How most documentaries don’t offer any solution at the end, do you think yours offered one?

I don’t think my documentary offers a solution at the end because I never thought about a solution, I don’t feel like I’m at that position where I’m supposed to give solutions to serious matters such as these. There are other people who do that. As a filmmaker, my job was to highlight the issue and get it out there and that’s just what I did. Now it’s the job of NGOS or the government to take notice of this, regulate labor laws and provide them their rights.

-Any advice for young people who want to pursue this art form?

Only one advice, stop complaining and just go out there and shoot films. I mean every other kid has a DSLR these days but what are they doing with it? don’t limit the capabilities of your camera to just taking “Display pictures”. You have the camera, you have the voice and you have the internet now to share it with everyone. Go out in the street and shoot guerilla style, there’s no one stopping you. Me and my friend have faced problems several times where people restricted us and stopped us from shooting at certain locations but so what? that’s okay and we all respect that. But what I really want to say is that, just don’t complain. Gather your friends, ask them to act. You don’t need any money. Doesn’t matter what camera you have, doesn’t matter if you have a 50mm lens or a 200mm lens, none of that shit matters. If you have a story to tell, just go shoot it there’s nothing stopping you and stop going for perfection. You wouldn’t make “Inception”, just be yourself. Tell the stories you want to tell, for example my photography and art are heavily based on atmosphere/mood more than the story or subject at times. I want to evoke certain kind of emotions from my audience, so even if the story is about two guys talking about their lives over a cup of tea go for it! It’s more likely people would want to watch films that are honest, down to earth and personal than some high-budget grand scale blockbuster.