Mohsin Talat - The Maverick behind the lens

  • 19 Nov - 25 Nov, 2022
  • Wajiha Jawaid
  • Interview

After spending nearly 28 years in the showbiz industry, the prolific drama maker, Mohsin Talat, has been considered among the big league of directors. Having an eye for talent, the director has changed the destiny of many artists and has made them stars by giving them big breaks in his projects including Mawra Hocane, Ahmed Ali Butt, Imran Ashraf, Ali Safina, and Yashma Gill. He started his career as a performer but found his true calling in drama-making. With his unique storytelling technique, he turns an ordinary plot into a masterpiece. There is a long list of successful drama serials at his credit including Daasi, Ghar Titli Ka Par, Ishq Nachaya, Ki Jaana Mein Kaun, Saraab, Yaar Na Bichray, Dastaar-e-Anaa, Tujh Pe Qurban and many more. Mohsin Talat in an exclusive rendezvous with MAG talked about his journey in showbiz, his love for storytelling, and upcoming ventures. Excerpts:

From being an assistant director to an award-winning director you have come a long way in your career. How do you see your career graph?

It has been slow but steady. I got everything – name, fame, and money. Now, I think it is my time to pay back to the industry. Today, when I look back to my journey I am satisfied that I have given talent in every department – be it good DoPs, editors, directors, writers, or actors. I can give you a long list of people who get their big breaks from me and now they have a legacy to follow.

Do you remember when did you develop a love for storytelling?

I realized it in childhood. I had a habit of visualizing everything. Once I went to meet an old family friend and a commercial shoot was going on in his office. They needed someone to do a small part in it. They asked me if I could do it. As it was only for a day and the pay was good I agreed to do it but during the shoot, I realized my potential as a visualizer. I think self-recognition is good and if it happens at right time then it will be great.

Ever since you did Ghar Title ka Par there is a trend going on showing greedy girls and naïve heroines on television. How do you feel when you see others following you in terms of content?

Yes, you are right. A lot of production houses and channels have used the concept but none of them as successful as us because we have given a strong message in it. Our antagonist, Anji, has to face the music for her wrong deeds in the end. Viewers loved the performances and the overall treatment of the serial.

Are you satisfied with the current trends going on in dramas such as greedy larki, chalak in-laws, and bechari heroine?

Unfortunately, our drama somehow becomes a victim of marketing. Now our drama makers are more concerned about earning money rather than producing quality content. There was a time when the popularity of the drama was judged by its content but now the same is not the case.

Many dramas are topping the rating chart but have weak scripts, abrupt plots, and clumsy performances. They are high on the trend because the masses are watching them. I believe the priority of our viewers has changed with time. They don’t care what has been offered to them. They just want to be entertained.

In one of your interviews, you said, the film is my ultimate destiny so what's the delay in exploring that medium?

Honestly speaking, it needs a lot of guts to invest your time in movies right now. I am currently working on two different scripts the 13th draft of one of the scripts is finalized and I am waiting for the right time to announce it.

Could you please give us an idea about the scripts that you are working on?

The genre I am working on is quite similar to what Raju Hirani does. My movie will address an important social issue but it will be delivered in a light mood. We have worked a lot on the lingo and behavior of the two main characters and I have high hopes that it will translate well on the screen.

You are one of few directors who don't belong to any lobbies and have promoted a lot of youngsters. Why is it important to induce fresh blood into the industry?

A lot of people don’t want to work with new talent – but I think the induction of new blood is vital for the growth of the industry. I find it fulfilling to work with raw talent. Today, when I look back at my career, I feel great that many of today’s accomplished stars have been introduced by me including Nimra Malik, Yashma Gill, Azika Danila, and Ali Safina.

I still remembered that we were shooting for Mirajuddin’s serial in Islamabad when I spotted Mawra Hocane. She just completed her school and was on vacation. I offered her a role there and today she is one of the most successful actresses in our industry. Similarly, Ahmed Ali Akbar’s first drama, Shehr-e-Ajnabi was with me. In the same serial, Imran Ashraf also got an interesting role to play and later he received many offers because of it.

If an actor is being unprofessional. How do you manage the situation?

I don’t let that situation happen to me. I give them to respect the day they come to my set and once they become stars they value that attitude.

You have made short films for digital platforms. How was the experience?

It was fascinating. It allows me to show my creativity as a filmmaker. I treated those projects very differently. We did experiments while shooting and the execution and the treatment of the scenes were different.

So how do you see the emergence of these OTT platforms?

I think it is a great initiative. The emergence of OTT platforms in Pakistan is in a nascent stage. At present we have only two prominent platforms, Urduflex and See Prime, who are working in that area. I think they are doing a great job and quality content has been coming out from them.

The concept of OTT has been widely misunderstood. People think if something is on OTT it has to be vulgar which is incorrect. You can bold with topics and subjects and vulgarity is not a pre-requisite for it. It is just that many makers have used vulgarity to get more eyeballs on the content.

You have worked with a lot of performers so among them who is your favorite and why?

I love Uzma Gillani- I can do any project with her. She is superbly talented and can do any role with perfection whether it is poor, rich, negative, positive, or light-hearted. I have worked with her a lot and every time she surprises me with her impeccable acts. I think an actor shouldn’t be predictable otherwise it won’t be fun working with them.

Among the younger lot who do you find the most talented?

I think Sonya Hussain, Sajal, and Iqra all are doing fab work. As far as boys are concerned, we have extremely talented actors such as Imran Ashraf, Ahmed Ali Akbar, Zain Afzal, and Zain Baig. I think Pakistan has a lot of talented performers but the people who are responsible to take work from them have become less interested. Their focus is more on earning money and as a result of it, our content has to compromise.

What's next on your radar?

There are two dramas in the pipeline. I am also working on a television series about the undercover police or bureau. I am the producer and director of it. The series will be a fresh breath of air amid the repetitive family drama scenario. We try to highlight different socio-economic issues in it.


Who is your favorite actor and why?

Uzma Gillani – she is a thorough professional and a great performer.

If given a chance which Bollywood celebrity you would like to work with and why?

I always wanted to work with Irrfan Khan but he is no more so now I want to work with Ranbir Kapoor. He is a gifted performer.

What would you do if you were stranded on a desert island?

I would take it as an opportunity to develop a special bond with Almighty Allah.

What did you aspire to become if not a celebrity?

A cricketer. It’s my passion to play cricket.

What is the craziest thing that you have ever done?

The list is long but let me share an interesting incident. A group of my friends went to Las Vegas and we jumped off from Stratosphere Building(829 feet)and landed on the ground at a speed up to 40 mph. So, yeah it was hell crazy.

What is your favorite movie?

It has to be The Devil's Double – it is a movie about the body double of Saddam Hussain’s son Uday Hussein. Apart from it, all of Raj Kumar Hirani’s movies are my favourite.