News Column

Movies a passion for Emirati filmmaker Majid Abdulrazak

October 17, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 17--Majid Abdulrazak has written, directed, acted in and produced three movies since his first film, Eqaab

Bitten by the movie bug

For Emirati filmmaker Majid Abdulrazak, the turning point in his life was when he read The Count of Monte Cristo, the 1844 novel by French novelist Alexandre Dumas.

"Everyone has a turning point in their life, mine was when I finished The Count of Monte Cristo. I read the comic version for the first time when I was 13 and since then, I have always kept a copy of it near me. Even now I have about 15 copies at home," said Majid.

Another turning point in Majid's life was when he met British author Wilfred Thesiger, popularly known as Mubarak bin London among bedouins. Majid's wife brought Thesiger to their house when he was visiting the country.

"It was in the 80s. I was sleeping at home and he walked into our house. I felt I was dreaming and it took me a while to understand that he was really there. Back then, I did not even dream that I would be making a movie based on his travels," said Majid. He got candid with Khaleej Times about his passion for cinema, his early inspirations, his chance meeting with Thesiger, the challenges he has had to face as a filmmaker, and his latest movie Bani Adam.

He is the first Emirati to have made two full-length feature films, spending millions of dirhams on his movies. "I used to run a successful business making furniture in the 80s. But I was not happy doing that. I understood that my true calling was being a filmmaker," said Majid.

A self-professed loner and traveller, Majid takes time off and travels for over a month while conceptualising a movie. "Pre-production and post-production can be done at leisure, but shooting is when your time is most precious," he said.

The Emirati filmmaker has written, directed, acted in and produced three movies since his first film Eqaab, based on The Count of Monte Cristo, which released in 2006.

The bug for a career in the film industry bit him at a very young age. However he forayed into the industry only recently. "Cinema is still young here. I come from a very orthodox family and I still face severe criticism from my family for being a filmmaker. In their eyes, being in this industry equals being an entertainer. My family does watch my movies, but they do not discuss or talk about it, and it is considered a taboo subject," said Majid.

However, he continued to pursue his dreams and went on to fulfill his biggest dream of being a moviemaker.

Since Eqaab, he has made two other movies -- The Arabian Sands, based on Thesiger's travels across the Empty Quarter; and Bani Adams, which is a tragic love story. Eqaab, according to the director, was an ambitious project. Shot simultaneously in three different languages, it was to have been released in Urdu, Arabic, and Persian.

"Finally we released the movie in Arabic and Urdu. I think it was due to lack of good publicity, that the movie did not do well," he said. Majid believes that there is no dearth of talent in the country; however, there is a shortage of interest amongst local people.

"People here still prefer watching Hollywood or Bollywood movies," he said.

"Bollywood movies today are not like how they used to be. I happened to see the new Hindi release Besharam, and I walked out of the theatre after 10 minutes. I grew up watching Hindi movies made in the 40s and 50s. I am still a very big fan of veteran actor Dilip Kumar. At that time, those were the only movies we had access to."

The uniqueness in Majid's approach to filmmaking is that he understands the artistic value and hard work behind making good cinema.

However, he said that pleasing the local audiences remains the biggest challenge for filmmakers because people prefer commercial cinema from Bollywood and Hollywood to cinema by local filmmakers. -- dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com

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(c)2013 the Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

Visit the Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) at www.khaleejtimes.com

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