Filming patriotism: How Incision Films is contributing towards highlighting a peaceful image of Pakistan

In an exclusive interview we talk to Shariq M Khan of Incision Films about their contribution towards inspiring national loyalty among the public

Cinema has always had a profound impact on viewers. Throughout history cinema has played a vital role in bringing about a change in the society. From instigating revolutions to stirring patriotism, good film making has awaken societies to build strong and resilient nations. Film-making, especially patriotic movies, have always filled hearts with zealous allegiance that certainly boosts passion to serve motherland. Because entertainment or film-making has the power to change mindsets, a good patriotic production is synonymous to a social cause.

Bearing the responsibility to serve the society and inspire national loyalty among the public, Incision Films has taken upon itself the responsibility to make productions that motivate the masses to ‘Think Pakistan.’ Additionally, the production house is credited for endorsing the valour and bravery of the armed forces, serving as a channel to encourage support and laud their devotion to the nation. Productions by Incision Films, such as The Race Against Polio One Last Push (One Last Push initiative towards a healthier Pakistan), Prowlers of the Deep (Pakistan Navy), and Apni Jaan Nazar Karoon (a tribute to Pakistan Army) are on the frontline upholding a strong image of Pakistan as an invictus nation. In an exclusive interview we talk to Shariq M Khan of Incision Films about their contribution towards building a peaceful Pakistan.

Brothers in Arms - Incision Films and Sherdils of PAF

Incision Films recently acquired exclusive partnership of world renowned Ridley Scott Associates. Tell us about it?

It gives me a sense of great joy and pleasure that we’ve been able to acquire this partnership. RSA had come down to shoot a commercial back in 2015 and we were their local producers at the time. We made them feel really comfortable and changed their perception of Pakistan. They were quite happy with the production and so were the clients who flew down to Pakistan with them. As a result of this, they again scheduled another shoot in Pakistan for which I was lucky enough to be chosen as the director. Again, every thing went extremely smooth, the shoot was great and was accepted right away.

During this time we had discussed the possibility of collaborating on different projects in Pakistan, and so we will be closely working with RSA, including some of their directors who are recipients of BAFTA and Emmy Awards besides other top festival awards. Our aim is to bring international level of finesse to our local productions to make them truly a piece of art while enhancing the image of our country globally.

How does it feel as a Pakistani to acquire that prestige? Especially presenting Pakistan at a fine global platform as this?

All our productions have always been focused towards the betterment of the country. I have always tried my best to project a very positive image of our motherland. This will definitely put me in a position to take this goal of mine even further. My aim is to also give a chance to our local pool of DOPs, musicians and Post houses at proving their worth in the global market.

BTS Sherdil Shaheen with Imran Abbas

Shariq A Khan at Pakistan Air Force Headquarters to receive a certificate of appreciation by Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman

You are involved in projecting a dynamic and positive image of Pakistan. What’s the driving force that keeps your spirit high amidst the challenges we face as a nation?

We, who are associated to the media industry, have the biggest opportunity of actually doing something about our country. We have a voice that is a very powerful one. When we make a film about a certain subject, our voices get heard, our images do connect with the people. Therefore, I feel it is our responsibility to do something about the status quo.

I belong to a family that has seen migrations and I hail from a family of a veteran army officer; my father served the country as a military officer for 35 years and rose to be at the top of the game. My brother has devoted his life to saving lives of others, who are in need through his mobile app called Mohafiz. I don’t know anything else apart from loving Pakistan, and to strive to make it better comes naturally to me.

The fact is, every day is a fight for me. It saddens me when I can’t find sponsors for all the positive non-agenda stuff that I want to produce or direct. Rather most of the time people tell me to go in a contradictory direction to get funding for projects. I think it is this fight that keeps me and my team pumped up and gives me the will to find some alternatives to make things the way they are supposed to.

Incision Films is heavily involved in supporting what is right and out rightly rejects what’s wrong. What are some of the most outstanding works of yours?

Yes, it is so. I believe in the power of the system and in the power of the people. If something happening in our country is bringing positivity, we stand by it, otherwise we don’t. Our projects are always aimed towards the human element, the man behind the machine. For all the projects that I have done I have a special place for each one of them in my heart. I give all my projects a 100% so I don’t think I can pick out any project in particular.

Shariq A Khan with Pakistan's Top DOP Rana Kamran and Imran Abbas

Team Incision Films at Musaf PAF Base Sargodha

While most production houses produce satire and feature social issues in a way that sometimes it doesn’t go in favour building a positive image of our country. You choose to do it otherwise. Why?

I have always believed that there are multiple ways of addressing the same topic. You can either go head on or do it the way I do it, which means taking a very neutral stance at identifying a certain issue and giving people the power to decide what needs to be done about it. I think as a filmmaker it is my duty to remain non-judgmental while telling a story. Otherwise that story would have an unexpected or contrary influence of my thoughts and ideas. I want to empower people to think for themselves and decide.

You produced the documentary film on Shaheed Officer Marium Mukhtiar. How was the experience?

Shaheed Officer Marium Mukhtiar was not just a pilot who embraced shahadat, I believe she was the epitome of empowerment for women. Making her documentary was a real eyeopener for me. I realized right after the first interview I did of her father that I can’t just eulogize her flying career, or the fact that she was the first lady pilot who embraced martyrdom in the line of duty. I had to speak more about her struggles and determination, which gave her the strength to become a role model for the women of our nation.

The real game changer was the feedback that I started getting after the documentary was released on social media. I remember there were millions of views, but that’s not all, the comments girls left for the video were so humbling for me as a filmmaker. The documentary was so empowering. The story of Marium, through this documentary, actually inspired them to shift their focus from what they were being forced to do to what they always dreamt of doing.

I never thought that my art, my profession, could have such an affect on peoples’ lives.

You did a particular documentary on Abbottabad. Why Abbottabad?

Actually after Marium Muktiar’s documentary I made another company called the Black Coma Films (BCF) to tell the stories of this country, and why it is so important to own it. Every now and then, I would bump into people who told me to make documentaries on different subjects. So BCF is a platform I created to make documentaries on common people, who lack resources. Without compromising on the quality, BCF wants to give the common people a channel to express themselves.

The documentary on Abbottabad is the first pilot project from that platform. There will be many more documentaries coming in the near future based on different cities and towns of Pakistan. Why I am doing this is because I feel there are many among us who are interested in the progress of our nation.

Team Incision Films at work

A day at work

Working closely with the armed forces gives you that ‘one moment in time’ experience which no ordinary person can even comprehend in their wildest imagination. How does it feel to feel that special?

Working with the military has its own perks. I mean who doesn’t want to fly in a helicopter at 5,000 feet hanging outside while two JF17s cross right below it. Or who wouldn’t want to sail in the international waters in a war ship, or to top it off, how many people get to dive in a submarine while it performs an emergency blow out. We’ve had the privilege of doing all this and much much more. Alhamdulillah, God has been very kind!

Your message to the people of Pakistan?

I believe in you!                                         

Photo credits: Shariq A Khan and Incision Films

Marian Sharaf Joseph is an independent journalist. Her work for local and global publications focuses on culture and community affairs