Ghazanfar Ali - Producer by Default
Written by English NewsPaper/Dawn/Others   

Winking eyes, impish smile and a bearded face set over six feet structure, has a wily expression and an unconventional style.

One look at the man tells you he has something to do with the arts. Meet Ghazartfar Ali director/producer, who entered the performing arts by default." Few years ago when he walked out of PTV he formed a company name of Combine.

Agha Nasir thought (and rightly so) that people in the private sector would work with more dedication as they would be earning good money. On the other hand it was cheaper for PTV to give air time to private sector rather then filling up themselves. It was completely a new idea and there was no other channel at that time and I jumped into it.

Following his guru's advice, Ghazanfar produced a comedy drama serial named "Kachwa and Khargosh" the first private sector programme that went on air starring Sajid hassan and Behroze Sabzwari.

He bought time and booked sponsors. "Financialy we did very well. In fact we were better off then we are now" Ghazaofar feels. The sponsor's have become sharp and there is so much competition that it creates problems.

After Kachwa and kkargosh, he continued with small projects for morning transmission. Music Challenge, a fortnightly, was the first pop music programme ever run on telelvision. Nowadays he is busy directing a drama serial Jaal for NTM with the screen life of hundred and four episodes.'The spedal feature of the serial is that it will run twice a week, maintaining the continuity a serial  deserves.

Ghazanfar's joining the electronic media was not due to a childhood dream that he ever nurtured." It happened because I went into a very big loss in business afler nationalisation. I didn't know whether I was creative or not but I was disgusted with business and with nothing in front of me I joined TV. I was not expecting much 'kudos' really. As for the reason for leaving it, he says, "My bosses thought I was becoming too big for my boots!".

He recalls those four years he spent in PTV as very productive,"The year I left l did four good programmes which became very popular later on. Waaris, Alif Laila, Bhaag Bhari and Yadash Bakhair".

Alif Laila was the fiist chroma programme Ghazanfar did for children although someone else got reward for it.

The same treatment was given to Waaris. Why did he start a programme and not stick with it? "My bosses wanted it that way. I was only supposed  to start things to be taken away later on. My bosses had the confidence in me of giving
me things which looked good in the GM conference, Once the programme was on the go I was asked to hand it over to someone else saying 'Yar abb tau yeh chal para hai.".

Labelled as a hard task-master Ghazanfar admits, "People love to hate me." His working personality is different from his real life.

"I am a very friendly person otherwise, but when I am working I become indifferent to people."

He is also known to get furious at times, "Yes, I lose my temper when I feel something stupid has been overlooked. But all the same I am also very encouraging because I accept people's shortcomings too," he says, scratching his beard.

Like every director he tries to extract the best out of a person but tries not to impose himself due to which the artistes get disappointed at times,  "I feel  an actor has to put in his own individuality otherwise he will just be mimicking. If I am a good actor and arn doing better than him, he will try to mimic me and lose the element of originality as he portrays me."

Ghazanfar feels there is tremendous scope in the field if given due support.

"By support I mean by government and people both. It has great export potential which no one seems to foresee. With so many satellite channels coming up, there could be an endless need for programmes.

Labour intensive element in this part of the world is so cheap that you can do the same programme for a verv small amount here and sell it."

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Why are we labelled as copycat stealing ideas from programmes running on satellite? I couldn't help asking. "General programming is always reflecting. You can't say that a cookery programme is a copied programme. Television is a trendy clement, a medium exposed to everyone in the house. When short skirts are in vogue you don't say one is copying it, it's supposed to a trend. These programmes are popular programmes and in your own spectrum yon want them to comee across with your own ingredients, so you pick some cues.Television is a phenomenon. It cannot be restricted to a country or a region. It's a universal medium which everyone watches.

Bujho geet paheli is not a copy it's a trend. A programme running in ths US in the late '50s called Name the tune was on the same pattern. If Zee TV runs something like it, it's not a copy but a trend." he justifies.

He marks trained manpower as one of the biggest handicaps of the industry. Marketing has become another problem. With growing competition sponsors have become very unpredictable. Elaborating he says that the sponsors are not watching focal programmes to make out the good from the bad ones. They are watching satellite. Although they are the ones who should be watching local TV as they are putting in their money.

Looking back over the past twenty years Ghazanfar says,,

"I think I am still struggling. I got myself into a strange dilemma, My goals got mixed and instead of becoming a director, I became a producer. Creatively I could have done much better for mysetf and could have been at the same position fifteen years ago."

He believes it to be a major loss to be loss in the petty administration work and not be able to do more creative work. "You have to compromise and keep compromising. I wish I could always remain a freelance director'" •

By Huma Khawar

Dawn Images, 24th Nov 1995