Mehreen Jabbar – Pakistan

She is a filmmaker. She had an extensive portfolio at a young age. After directing her first play in 1994 when she was just 23 years old, Mehreen went on to create a work which ranges from short independent art films to commercial serials and series for television. Her success as a director can be assessed by the fact that her work has appeared in many film festivals around the world including The Hong Kong International Film Festival, The San Francisco Asian-American Film Festival, and The Leeds Film Festival in U. K. to name a few and her short film, Beauty Parlor, was recently screened in New York. At home, in Pakistan, her unconventional style of story telling has earned her much acclaim and several awards. (full text).

Cannes is a marketplace: As for Mehreen Jabbar, director of her upcoming movie ‘Ramchand Pakistani’, she (Actor Nandita Das) says, “Mehreen has a unique cinematic sensibility, very quiet and dignified, a bit like the European style of cinema. The fact that she has her roots in Pakistan reflects in her work”, May 08, 2007. (full text).

Mehreen Jabbar - Pakistan two.jpg

Mehreen Jabbar – Pakistan

Listen to her short video presentation, 1.25 minutes.

Discussing gender, sexuality through a film festival (Cannes): … “Beauty Parlour” comes from Mehreen Jabbar in Pakistan … , May 10, 2007. (full text).

She says: “I don’t really look at plays as issues, I look at stories. The stories that appeal to me are small stories, like conflicts within a household and conflicts between two individuals. More than social issues, that obviously plays a part, but I don’t direct to make a point” … and: “I’ve never had an interest in acting.
I think it’s an extremely difficult job and it’s not for me! I find directing is my forte because this is how I love telling stories. Directing is like giving birth, creating, moulding. the high is incredible as are the rewards. To see all the elements come together from the script to the actors, to the camera work, to the crew and to see that produce something that was the original vision is irreplaceable” … and: “I have not written my own plays but I work with the writers. We come up with a story, sometimes the writer will come up with something, sometime I will and then I sit with them and they write and we just take the whole script from start to finish, and then it is devleped from there on. So it’s a very collaborative process. I work with only a couple of writers” … and: “I’ve never worked in the film industry. That is in Lahore, mostly. But a group of us (independent filmmakers) have started the KaraFilm Festival which is Pakistan’s only international film festival. We started that two years ago and it was developed with the aim to encourage producers and directors to produce and show their works at the festival and to enable people to view films from around the world and meet with other filmmakers”. (full interview text).

Read: Acting is a self-obsessed profession.

Mehreen grew up around Pakistan’s show business. Her father is a filmmaker himself who has also been running a highly successful advertising agency for about 30 years which is where Mehreen got her first exposure to the television world. After receiving a B.A. from St. Joseph`s college in Karachi, Mehreen went abroad to the United States and studied film making at UCLA. She describes this experience as a crucial part of her training because her teachers were working professionals from the film industry who were able to provide real insights on the art and business of film making.

After completing the program at UCLA, Mehreen Jabbar returned to Pakistan to practice her craft professionally. Her first play, in 1994, was called Nivala which was based on a short story by Ismat Chugtai, one of the foremost authors in the Urdu language. It was to be the first in a series of plays for television based on stories by South Asian women writers.

Unfortunately, the decision makers at the state-run television of that time declined from airing Nivala because it was based on the work of an Indian writer and, subsequently, the idea for the entire series was cancelled. Though this was a setback, it did not deter Mehreen from doing what she loves. She continued to make short films, feature length plays, and drama serials. (full text).

Read: Mehreen Jabbar Unplugged.

Mehreen Jabbar, one of Pakistan’s outstanding young directors who has directed and produced a large number of highly acclaimed, award-winning TV serials and plays including New York Stories, Pehchaan, Kahaniyaan and Putli Ghar, has recently completed the filming phase of her first directorial venture into big-screen cinema. What’s more, her father Javed Jabbar is the executive producer of the film. It may be recalled that Javed Jabbar wrote, produced and directed the first Pakistani film in English titled Beyond the Last Mountain, released to critical acclaim domestically and in international film festivals in 1976. In the ’70s and ’80s he had also written and direc-ted several award-winning documentaries. (full text).

She says also: “Bad things have happened to Pakistani drama. The trend is mostly towards over melodramatic, unrealistic story lines and there is not enough emphasis on the acting or the stories per se. Instead, the focus seems to be on all the wrong things like make-up or the look” … What about her current projects? “I am not taking any television work, but I am doing something with my father (Javed Jabbar).

If I do end up getting a project, I will shoot it here and do post-production work in America. But what I really want now is to just cut down on television and start thinking about films. I have been wanting to make a film for quite a while and now is the time to go for it. Film is not a quick thing and it takes time. My first film will have a story that really moves me. I plan to do what I am good at, but I cannot give any more details as it is too early to do so. But something will develop by next year,” she says for now. (full text).

Mehreen, who has a track record of producing and directing a number of award winning telefilms and TV serials is very excited about her latest directional venture. It is her first in USA. A similar drama serial directed by her was “Aur Zindagi Badalti Hai“, based and entirely filmed in Madrid, Spain. It depicted the lives of Pakistani Diaspora in Spain. It was aired on PTV in 2000 and was a grand success, according to her. (full text).

Jab at Jabbar: In the “Mediafile” section of the March issue, Chhetria Patrakar writes that Javed Jabbar, Pakistan’s Information and Media Development advisor, is “on the right track”. But she seems to be ignorant of the fact that the same advisor-saheb was the first one to submit application for a private cable television channel, and is the most likely to get permission for one. Apparently, his daughter, Mehreen Jabbar, is at the helm of affairs. It is certain that the advisor-saheb will use his influence to get this job done, as in the past he has not been above currying favours from those in power. Most recently, he did everything within his means to get the advisor’s post, including resigning as Secretary of Information of the Milat Party, and writing puff-pieces in favour of the military regime. And to think that the likes of him had gained their reputation by supporting democracy and denouncing martial rule! Mustafa Nazir Ahmad, Pakistan. (full text).


2006 San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival;


Parallel Cinema in Pakistan;

Karachi Film Festival.

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