Momina Duraid is a producer, script-writer, director and lyricist, along with all this she is also the CEO of Moomal Productions. She is behind many successful dramas such as Dastaan, Ishq Junoon Deewangi for Hum Tv and has thus contributed vastly to the Pakistani media industry in the last six years; her latest success is the drama serial Humsafar.
On March 14, 2012, Herald asked her to hold a live blog where people could pose their questions about Humsafar. The blog has been edited for space, clarity and grammar.
9:38 Comment From Fiaz Mumtaz. What is your opinion about so much idealism and glamour in the dramas, and how will it affect the majority of audiences?
9:39 Momina Duraid. Hi Fiaz. There are different subjects that we deal with and we try to stay as close to reality as possible.
9:39 Comment From Mahine. Why did you completely change the ending of the drama?
9:41 Momina Duraid. The ending of the drama was changed for the screen but the soul of the end was the same as the novel. Sometimes the way things are written in the novel have to be enhanced to create more interest.
9:41 Comment From Maneezeh. Humsafar, unlike a lot of other dramas these days, has a single story, a linear narrative. Do you think this has played a part in it becoming so successful?
9:44 Momina Duraid. I think an emotional script with the right cast and a sensitive director is the success of the play. The production and cinematography also gave the play a high end look.
9:44 Comment From Saman. What do they think makes Humsafar so special and different other than the breath-taking chemistry between Asher and Khirad?
9:46 Momina Duraid. There is no chemistry unless there is a script to base the chemistry upon. Combined with the script and production the chemistry works wonders. I believe it’s the simplicity of the chemistry that made it so beautiful as there were emotions but no vulgarity.
9:47 Comment From John. Why is Sara Ajmal’s character performing yoga? Can you please shed some light how it belongs in the character.
9:49 Momina Duraid. The class that Sara belongs to is generally taking some kind of exercise programme. Yoga, pilates, cardio anything. This is a diet conscious and heath conscious class.
9:49 Comment From Saqlain. A fantastic job with all the characters of this drama. You and your team deserve all the accolade. Do you think the social evils portrayed in the drama are actually a part of many households in Pakistan?
9:51 Momina Duraid. Yes I do believe that these social evils are a part of many households. Many of us hurt our loved ones to save our own egos.
9:51 Comment From Sam. The drama is a perfect example of patriarchal attitudes in our society. Till the very end the female lead spent time crying and asking for her husband’s largess. It would have been better if you showed a female lead with spine and character (and by character I don’t mean a ‘satti sawatri’). Do you think this affects how young women view themselves?
9:54 Momina Duraid. The novel never showed Khirad standing up to her mother-in-law or husband but we did show that she finally stands up for her rights and is a powerful mother. Of course all changes were done by the writer herself after discussions.
9:55 Comment From Sam. How is she a powerful mother? I am sure we have lots of powerful mothers like this who think its okay to be treated badly by their husbands and mother in laws as “Allah us ka ajar un ko de ga”.
9:57 Momina Duraid. Well I feel she was a powerful mother as she was not willing to apologise to her husband even when she got to know that he will accept her if she does.
9:59 Comment From Fahad. Sarmad told us that it was your idea to pair up Mahira and Fawad? How did you come up with this pair?
10:00 Momina Duraid. Well that is what I do every day. I thought they have never been paired before and would look good together.
10:01 Comment From John. I really like how Pakistan’s so-called liberal elite hide their biases and bigotry.
10:01 Momina Duraid. Well it feels good to expose some of them.
10:01 Comment From Asad. Mohabbat, Iltijah, Guftaguh. These were words commonly used in the drama. If the rest of us don’t talk like this then why is your script like this?
10:02 Momina Duraid. We do try and make the language as simple to understand as possible.
10:02 Comment From Tooba Akhtar. The story line wasn’t entirely unique nor was the ending. While it has been said by the team before that the focus on love was what connected the audiences to the drama, what else do you think did it?
10:04 Momina Duraid. I think all stories have been told several times. It’s how it is told what really matters. The way the script linked the emotions was what made the story beautiful.
10:12 Comment From zka. Was there any specific reason why most of the Farida/Khirad/Ashar scenes were shot in Mirpur Khas? Was it to get the most out of the actors in terms of emotions, without any distractions? It was a beautiful house but there are lots of houses in Karachi.
10:14 Momina Duraid. Well I wanted it to be a new house that had not been shot before as the location was to become a character in the play. Moreover the house was exactly what we wanted
10:14 Comment From Mahine. I know blood is thicker than water but how is it that Asher so easily forgave his mother who destroyed his marriage and wished so much ill on his wife and daughter?
10:16 Momina Duraid. The mother had lost her mind and there is a lesson here. We should not let our dear ones stray away from the right path but we should not throw them away when they need us the most.
10:20 Comment From Ahsan. Do you think there could have been a message that could have been delivered differently from Sara’s role?
10:21 Momina Duraid. Well yes in every story there are a hundred ways to give a message. Here we wanted to show that running after something that has never been yours can have deadly consequences.
10:21 Comment From Rahim. The drama explores clichéd mills and boons themes, how did it work for mass audiences and did you expect it to?
10:23 Momina Duraid. Well I feel we are all emotional beings and human emotions presented sensitively will always be successful.
10:23 Comment From Khurram. Why is your writer always from popular fiction? Why not use Intizaar Hussain, Abdullah Hussain, Mansha Yad etc? Are they more expensive with less rate of return? I have all the respect for popular fiction writers. They are fun but with a cliché of subjects & emotion. And, now all TV channels are full of it. Where is the education/awareness part which was once trait of our Drama?
10:26 Momina Duraid. Got it. You are right in a way. There are certain subjects that are important but do not have a mass appeal. We generally try to cover such subjects in tele-films so that even if they do not get great ratings they get the message across.
10:27 Comment From Sarmad. I saw the aged male fraternity watching a Pakistani drama so fondly after a very very long time, and by fondly I mean waking up till 1 to watch the repeat telecast due to load shedding. Kudos to the writer, I believe it was more due to the script and its association with our own language: URDU! Was there any emphasis on the language particularly?
10:28 Momina Duraid. God is great
10:28 Momina Duraid. Our language is indeed beautiful and expressive.
10:28 Comment From Arisha G. If you had the liberty to make a drastic change to any aspect of the novel’s interpretation, what would you have taken out or shown differently? Thanks.
10:31 Momina Duraid. I would give an insight into Atiqa’s background as to what insecurities did she have to react like this.
10:31 Comment From Guest. How would you respond to the criticism of Humsafar that it reinforced stereotypes albeit in the upper middle class?
10:33 Momina Duraid. Well aren’t all characters in a way stereotype? I do not believe in stereotypes. If it attracted so many then it must have had something new to offer.
10:33 Comment From Guest. Who chose the soundtrack for Humsafar? And why this particular Naseer Turabi ghazal that was earlier sung by Abida Parveen? Were there other ghazals that were taken into consideration?
10:35 Momina Duraid. Actually I was looking through the internet for lyrics with the word Humsafar in Sufi poetry and suddenly this track came up. I listened to it and it was exactly what our characters were. So I discussed it with Sarmad and he also loved it.
10:36 Comment From Adil. Most impressive thing about the play was how each character found a way to repent in the end. I was wondering how would you deal with Ashar’s mother after all this truth-explosion but making her mentally ill was really a surprise. She could have been sent to the UK in the same way most dramas deal with “redundant” characters. Was this also a part of original story?
10:38 Momina Duraid. Well some of the endings were smoothened for the screen and Farhat did those changes herself after being convinced. She is a very intelligent person and it was easy for her to learn the requirements of the screen.
10:40 Momina Duraid. Well thank you. It’s an honour to be able to entertain all of you.