Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy on directing Pakistan’s first animated feature film 3 Bahadur
I was naturally excited upon being informed that I would be conducting an interview of Pakistan’s lone Oscar winning film-maker, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. Ever since she clinched the coveted Academy Award in 2012, I had always harboured a fascination for the diligent Sharmeen and wanted to interview her. Apart from her typical, thought provoking documentaries, Sharmeen’s latest project 3 Bahadur promised something different. For the first time in Pakistan, an animated feature film would grace cinema screens to enthral the local audience. 3 Bahadur is the story of three children gifted with superpowers who also happen to have an undying resolve to rid their locale (aptly titled Andher Basti) from a multitude of villains and their malpractices. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is the brains behind the project, hence we decided to have a sit-down with her to discuss 3 Bahadur‘s details.
As Sanam Baloch’s morning show concluded, we ambled our way past the crowded studio room to the sofa where Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy was seated. After Sharmeen’s media team informed her that ARY News’ web team had arrived to interview her, she nodded for us to come forward. I made my way towards the sedulous film-maker and after introducing myself, showed her my intended questions. Despite her hectic schedule and all the hustle and bustle about her, Chinoy smiled politely and told me to ask whatever I wanted.
“Begin filming and ask me the questions. I’ve been doing this a while, this is all child’s play for me,” she stated, never losing her charming smile.
Seated elegantly on a sofa with the 3 Bahadur backdrop behind her, Sharmeen began answering my questions one after the another.
Q. Tell us something about 3 Bahadur. Does it feature only action sequences or is it a comedy film?
Ans. 3 Bahadur is a film that contains humour, passion and adventure. The passion in the movie will make people laugh, cry, as well as entertain them since it also contains amazing songs. It’s an adventurous film for the whole family.
Q. With saving face, you meant to highlight atrocities being committed against women. What do you aim to highlight with 3 Bahadur?
Ans. 3 Bahadur aims to inspire the next generation and make them believe that they can bring about a positive change in Pakistan. It is also meant to make them channel their inner superpowers when they see the 3 Bahadur superheroes on the cinema screen. These superheroes speak the language these children speak, wear the kind of clothes they wear and most importantly, walk the same kinds of streets these children walk. So the main message is to channel your inner superpower since you are the hope of this nation.
Q. How much difficulty did you encounter in making 3 Bahadur?
Ans. I think it is difficult to make any project, whether it is big or small. 3 Bahadur was really difficult to make since we have never worked on an animated feature film before, I think no one in Pakistan has ever done it either. It was difficult as we had to import a lot of technology and there were a lot of hardworking people in Pakistan but we needed to have a vision for it. I feel now that we have finally reached the finish line and created something that Pakistan will be proud of.
Q. Will 3 Bahadur serve as an inspiration for Pakistan’s animation industry?
Ans. 3 Bahadur is a very bold first step taken by us and the success of 3 Bahadur will translate into the success of Pakistan’s animation industry. There are lots of people waiting to see how 3 Bahadur performs at the box office and generally as well. This is because these people want to follow in our footsteps. I would say we are the pioneers in risk taking as far as animated films are concerned but there are lots of talented people who will follow in our footsteps, once 3 Bahadur is released.
Q. Do you think entertainment is also an efficient way to deliver messages, other than short films and documentaries?
Ans. I think in a country like Pakistan, it is very important to have entertainment but use it as well to deliver messages. In Pakistan, the illiteracy rate is high, which means that a lot of people do not read or write hence television, cinema is a very powerful medium to reach these people. The kind of messaging that we have in this film, it’s subtle, it hits home and basically tells us how to tackle our problems and take them in stride. This message will resonate both will parents and children because it is basically a film for the family.
Q.What projects can we expect from you in the near future?
My next film, which is about to be released is Song of Lahore. It is about a group of musicians from Lahore that play jazz music. Eventually their music gets picked up by the jazz at Lincoln Center in New York and they fly to New York, performing at two sold out concerts. It’s a story about Pakistan’s music revival and how Pakistanis are using their traditional instruments to create music.
Q. How does it feel to have an Oscar when someone like Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t?
Ans. (Laughs). I believe I’m a very fortunate person to have won an Academy Award. I know a lot of people who have not won an Oscar but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t fantastic film-makers. I hope to bring another Oscar for Pakistan, perhaps this time in animation.