Mixing up things in life is a basic prerequisite of happy and vibrant life. Some people want to keep their options open so they indulge themselves in different fields. But, there are some who cannot control the energy within them and they stand out in whatever they do because they do it with heart and intent. Faheem Azam, director and writer of a recent theatre blockbuster “Lakhon mai teen” is himself “lakhon mai ek”.  At his teenage, a young boy saw a dream that he would make movies one day, after almost a decade he is well on course of fulfilling it with lot of achievements in between those years. Always willing to take risks, courageous enough to apply unique methods to theatre, with humility as his hallmark and with passion of speaking his heart out in any way possible, Faheem Azam is among one of the pioneers in modern theatre. There are plays like “Marry Poppins”, “Diary”, “Bombay Dreams”, “Dinner with an idiot” and “we all fall down” to his credit. His recent venture “Lakhon mai teen” is ready to sweep Islamabad after Ramazan while it proved to be a huge success in Karachi. Let’s hear from the witty Faheem Azam his mantra for mixing up things in life.                     

Jack of all trades, master of none, to what extent you agree with this statement, or are you on a mission of defying it altogether?

Well I wouldn’t want to be jack of anything; if I do something I’d like to master it or just not do it at all. So whatever I’ve done so far, I start it as a student (not formally but I observe and learn) and then I try to do the best I can. I do many things but there were areas where I felt I wasn’t good enough so I left them to people who were good at it. I sometimes wonder if this strategy, of doing many things in parallel, is working for me, then I see a connection in all of them. What matters to me is how I’m able to connect with the people around me; if that happens by writing, I write; if that happens by me speaking, I speak; and if that could happen by me dancing, I would have danced but I don’t dance very frequently because that can scare some people away.

You are writer, director, actor, anchorperson, radio jokey, teacher, a motivational speaker and you have studied business, do you feel burden of all these tags sometime?

Well you missed trainer, HR consultant and a few other, but as I said all of these are somewhat connected, at least one reason is that they’re all sprouting from one person. I don’t feel burden of any of these things because one most important area of my life that you’ve missed is where the entire burden lies. Along with being writer director speaker actor etc, I’m also a father and more importantly I’m father of girls. This where my life gets a meaning and a purpose, this is where I want to succeed and for that I bring all of my skills together to do a good job. If I succeed at every area but fail to be a good father I would think that my life was a waste. I usually say this that we speak of revolution as if it’s some particular day where the government will be toppled and system will change etc; for me, my two daughters are the revolution I’m brewing and that is why the whole burden lies on this. Then, as soon as you start feeling the responsibility towards your own children, you get to understand the importance of every child around you. So my mission and my burden are pretty clear, “I want to change the world, for my daughters”. If anything can help me achieve that, I’ll do that be it writing acting, dancing or even going to school again I don’t mind.

Your latest play “Laakhon Mein Teen” is a great success, are you planning to stage it in other cities as well apart from Karachi?

We’re performing InShAllah in Islamabad right after Ramzan, hoping that the political situation doesn’t hurt it as much as it did in Karachi. We’re planning to take this to Lahore in September even with the challenges of high taxes on such entertainment in that city. No other plans yet but me and my producer Mohsin Ejaz wish that we could perform in cities like Faisalabad, Multan and especially in Peshawar. I know we would be welcomed in all these cities and it’s a play that should be seen by everyone in the country because it holds a very pertinent and strong message for not a particular group of people but for everyone with no age barrier.

Reason of your fame is generally associated with theatre? Do you think theatre has helped you in other fields you are related with?

Whatever means or medium I choose to express myself, I give it my whole self. So you’ll see a reflection of me in anything I do. Other things that I do have helped me in doing better theatre, and theatre has helped me get into other areas and do a good job with them. In short, one area doesn’t have to help you in the other, it’s just supposed to make you a better person, as a human and as a professional, and that in turn will reflect on all other areas.

At what point in your life you decided to be what you are right now? Something influenced you or it was innate?

I was 18 or 19 when I came up with a few film ideas and it was a very strong feeling that this is what I have to do, write and direct films. That feeling got me into theatre, advertising then TV then Radio and finally now I’m writing a few films. Fortunately during the same age I found a purpose for my life and that purpose has helped me to be a little aggressive at what I wanted to do.  Many things influenced me but I think the overall effect of them is that it all drives you to search for excellence.

How much struggle you faced to reach this point?

God has been kind. I won’t say it was easy and I also know that going forward from here will not be easy too, but when I worked hard, God has shown me the path and has brought me opportunities. Hard work is necessary I know but it has to be complemented with belief, and then a tarka of humility. All combined make a lethal combination for success.

Do you think theatre is reviving?

Good things are happening to theatre. A few good rip offs, a few good adaptations, a few original plays, some new talent is coming forward and more importantly some training and institutionalization is also taking place. But all this will go to waste if it doesn’t continue for a longer period of time. I don’t foresee that happening unless the culture departments of our government don’t start taking it seriously. A country needs a strong theatre industry but the industry needs the support of the country too.

Are you planning to make films in future? Do you think film industry is reviving?

I’ll say the same for films as I said for theatre. Good things are happening and they need to continue and it will require patience and support. I’m writing a couple of films, one of which will start shooting in a couple of months. And yes eventually I would like to start making films. It is something I always wanted to do even before I started doing theatre.

Ongoing TV dramas are becoming stagnant and monotonous, what are you views on this?

To be honest the problem lies in the writing department. Now this problem will remain with drama and films for a long time to come. Unless we’re able to find and groom new writers and make this work lucrative for youngsters, the problem will remain. The introduction of Turkish dramas and the existing monotony in our scripts is forcing the industry to come up with new ideas and as I see it, new ideas are welcomed. Again, it will take its time to mature.

Do you think Pakistani entertainment industry needs overhauling?

Well what doesn’t require overhauling in our country? As a nation we need a change of mindset, a change in attitude etc. There is serious problem of intellectual poverty in the whole of the entertainment industry throughout the world. Silly, nonsensical, shallow tamasha is in while anything that makes sense is out. It becomes very hard for creators to knock sense into people because they then have to package it in a way that it sells. So thumbs up to you if you’re able to sell intellect sugarcoated as nonsense. Some people are able to do it and I salute them.

You got married at young age, was it helpful for your career?

O’yes it had a lovely effect on my life in general. Apparently it may seem that one has to forgo many things in order to stay with family which is true but in late marriages the family-making time that we lose while focusing on careers come back hard at us. I’m very happy that my daughters are of that age now where I can be a good father and a good friend to them, and I can also follow my passions because the little time we get with each other is good enough for us. Also my wife Maria has grown in this struggle with me and vice versa, so we respect each other for our struggles together. Someone who meets me now will never understand where I come from.

You host a radio show with your wife Maria F. Qadri; tell us something about this experience?

I’ve done TV shows with her as well, and now we’re doing radio together. When she’s on-air, it’s my time to sit back and learn. Maria is very learned and the good thing is that she speaks her heart out so people love her more. She is a very deep and passionate soul and the best thing is that we connect and we’re able to complement each other as well.

What are your future aims? Are you a dreamer?

Yes I’m a dreamer and actually I have vivid dreams while I’m awake. I hardly remember the dreams that I see while I’m sleeping. My daydreaming is powerful enough to keep me going. My future aim, as I mentioned earlier, is very simple; I want to change the world for my daughters.

Among all your tags, what is your favorite? In what way you want people to recognize you?

I would like to be known as a person who cares. It really doesn’t matter how they know me or which tag they use to recognize me but whoever gets to know me should also know that I care. They should know that I get hurt when they’re hurt and I’m happy when they’re happy. I care.

Tell us your source of inspiration and your favorites in field of entertainment?

Well there are so many and if I have to pick one, then I’ll say that staying here in Pakistan if I’m able to do half of what Aamir Khan is doing to India, I’ll be a very happy man. We all are aware of his film life but his work on television is iconic and it stands out as one of the best productions in terms of impact on the society.