As Oscar winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy sits across from me in her barebones office, I can’t help admire her fearlessness.
The room is decorated with photographs of her many awards and travels. Iftikhar Salahuddin’s book ‘Jerusalem: A journey back in time’ is lying on the far side of the table. At the entrance of the office hangs a poster, that encapsulates philosophy of life:
“This is your life, do what you love. And do it often.”
“My motto in life has always been do whatever your heart desires,” she tells me. “Do what you want to do because it is only when you follow your dreams and passionately pursue them that you are true to yourself.”
In her newest film she hopes to convey some of this spirit to the younger generation of Pakistan.
A true trendsetter she has always done things her heart desires – be it the launching unique company Citizen Archive of Pakistan, making Oscar winning documentary, ‘Saving Face’ or directing Pakistan’s first ever animated feature film ‘3 Bahadur’.
The film has created quite a buzz with captivating promos that shows three school kids using their powers to succeed in a war against thugs and dark forces of primordial evil.
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy – A storyteller
Chinoy says that she over her career she has always tried to bring to light issues people are hesitant to talk about through her work regardless of what medium she uses to do it.
The shift from documentary making to animated movie is certainly a big leap but she considers it a natural progression and just another way of presenting compelling stories which need to be shared.
There is a lack of children’s programs on television today, according to Chinoy.
She says that while she grew up watching ‘Ainak Wala Jin’, ‘Uncle Sargram’ and Sohail Rana’s musical shows on television, the new generation doesn’t have local heroes to look up to and whatever they have is either from the West or India.
“The characters in ‘3 Bahadur’ are not alien and kids will relate to them as they speak their language and wear their dress,” she says.
I have tried to push the envelope and create something that inspires the next generation.
SHARMEEN OBAID CHINOY
Set in the fictional town of RoshanNagar ‘3 Bahadur’ is a story of three eleven-year-old kids – Amna, Saadi and Kamil – who set out to save their community from the evil that plagues it. The voice artists included Muneeba Yaseen as Amna, Hanzala Shahid as Kamil, Zuhab Khan as Saadi, Behroze Sabzwari as Deenu and Alyy Khan as young Mangu.
While all the three characters are dear to Obaid she says Amna has a special place in her heart.
“Amna has the super power of speed. As she runs very fast you will often find her rescuing Saadi and Kamil and taking the lead at many places – and it was done quite intentionally to make her character behave like this because I want young girls to have freedom to run and do things they want to do in life.”
While it was a challenge working on an animated project with technical and financial constraints the film itself is a testimonial to what Pakistanis are capable of and the talent we have in this country.
‘3 Bahadur’ as a movement
For Obaid ‘3 Bahadur was not just a film, but a movement to empower young children in Pakistan to believe they hold the future of change in this country. The team went to over 90 schools in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad taking the message along with them that every child has some special powers and they should use it for betterment of their community.
As the film premieres tonight, the Academy winner director is hopeful that it will open floodgates for many other animated movies to follow.
Obaid has initiated some other animated projects on the platform of Waadi Animations and is also hoping to roll out ‘3 Bahadur’ to many other countries of the world.
The avant-garde filmmaker has a list of internationally awards to her credit including Academy and Oscar awards for ‘Saving Face’ in 2012 and Emmy Award for ‘Children of the Taliban’ in 2010. Her most recent documentary, Songs of Lahore, premiered at Tribeca Film Festival.
Her documentary ‘Peacekeepers’ about Bangladeshi policewomen who join United Nations Stabilizing Mission in Haiti is also under production.
Computers, camera and creativity of ‘3 Bahadur’
While audiences eagerly await the release of Pakistan first animated film HIP met the creative team working behind the camera.
Waadi Animations is a joint venture company by SOC Films and ARY Films. The company is dedicated to producing purely animated content including feature films, short films, TV series and commercials.
Head of Production and writer of ‘3 Bahadur’ Kamran Khan said that the biggest hurdle in the making of Pakistan’s first animated film was that people weren’t taking it seriously.
“Building up a team was the toughest part because we didn’t have prior experience of making an animated film and it was difficult to convince people work for us,” he said.
When asked how tough it was to write for kids he was quick to say ‘a lot’.
After seeing Khan’s writing talent, Chinoy asked him to write the entire script! For the art school graduate the task was a huge honor and a responsibility. As one of the first children’s films to be released in Pakistan in years expectations are high and he was determined to create something that was simultaneously humorous, entertaining and message-oriented.
The writer explained that the had to create a balance of good values without becoming lecturing.
“We incorporated scenes that speak for our values and helps to embed good habits in kids. In one scene we show Kamil throwing a wrapper in the dustbin after eating chips. No words describe it but visuals will be enough to leave a lasting impact on kids.”
Character Inspired from real kids
Art Director and Storyboard artist Salman Nasir said that the ‘feel and look’ of characters has mostly been inspired from real life.
“There was a time when we were literally staring at kids while walking on the roads to make our characters as real as possible,”