Art Self enrichment Writing

My Latest Screen Writing Course.

What I’ve learnt through it.

Now, watch how ‘fate’ plays a role in our lives;

As you know, my trip to Seattle was recently cancelled by the mysterious loss of passport. Two months earlier, while planning the trip, one of my top priorities was to attend a screen writing course in Seattle.  There was another one starting here in Islamabad too.

How I joined the course:

So, at first I wanted to attend both. (I wanted it all!) Then, I thought, ‘no, I’ll let this Islamabad one pass, and attend the Seattle one.’ At the last minute the Seattle one got cancelled, just in time for me to join the 101 Screenwriting Course in Islamabad. Phew! That was close. Already, three of my friends had enrolled due to me. So, I had friends there, I was thrilled. Doing something here in Pakistan, means that since I’m going to work here, so it was best (for now.)

People asked me, ‘But why?’

As usual, I answered, ‘But why not?’

The Screen Writing Heritage of Dramas in PTV:

Between us, the fact is:

We in Pakistan have  grown  up watching plays on Pakistan Television which were amazing. We grew up loving Haseena Moeen’s plays. Her female characters were like Shahzori, and the dynamic heroins of Ankahi and Tanhaiyan. All her female protagonist characters often went against the grain of ‘society’ teaching them a lesson or two!

The PTV dramas were so good that many of these would be shown in the acting schools of India to teach the student actors, what acting was all about! Script writers like Ashfaque Ahmed, Bano Qudsia, Manto, Dr. Anwar Sajjad, Haseena Moeen, were followed by Asghar Nadeem Syed, Amjad Islam Amjad, Umera Ahmed and many others. The plays – whether tragedies or comedies- held meaning and showed ways to get out of the ‘impossible’ situations too.

We have a fantastic heritage in screen writing for television.

Fast forwarded, two decades, now we see females weeping and wailing all over the place. Getting beaten, divorced and thrown out of homes, right, left and center.  Showing this side of society isn’t getting anyone anywhere.

The role of a screen writer:

I believe, a writer needs to show what the society is, and also, be able to show a way out of it too. A writer owes it to the reader ( viewer and society) to be solution oriented. Hope is so important. Most important of all a writer needs to be inspiring and have the power to give power to the reader through the characters. This is why movies like Spider man, Superman and Wonder-woman have been so popular.

Yes, there is a Superman and Wonder woman in each of us. In our hearts, each one of us is a hero or heroine of some sorts.

I won’t say there aren’t good writers now, I’ll just say the characters need to be more forceful and positive, rather than being down-trodden, and full of misery.

My Current Favorite Screenwriter:

Among current Pakistani film screenwriters, I love the scripts of Vasay Chaudhry. He is one dynamic writer . His screenplay is full of original jokes, and typical Pakistani humor, as we see in Jawani Phir Nahi Aani (one and two). Then Jami’s work in Moor is outstanding. The story is absolutely amazing and the screenplay is even more so. The entire production is really beautiful.

My current favorite screenwriter in USA, is Amy Sherman-Palladino. She is a screenwriter, director and producer and totally amazing. Her block buster successful Gilmore Girls is beautifully executed and so detailed. The stars say, that the script was so huge. They had to memorize very long dialogues.

Now, lets get to the course I attended.

 Screenwriting Course 101:

So, the Screenwriting Course 101 with its 12 participants became a nice group. On the first day our teacher Mian Adnan Ahmed asked each of us why we are here? I told him something which is so true,

‘I have written four books and published one so far. I’ve found it is a painful process, and at the end of it all, hardly anyone really buys the books or reads them! So, I want to make films of my upcoming books so that the message is conveyed in one to two hours, and my purpose of conveying a message is accomplished. A book ends up lying on bookshelves of bookshops.’

He smiled, and said. ‘I don’t want to disappoint you. But, well, here too, it is possible for your film to be lying on a shelf or drawer somewhere.’ The production of a film is a painful process too. So, it isn’t any easier !’

(‘Welcome to the screenwriting world!’ I thought.)

But no harm in learning, and then I’ll see what to do. ‘Koshish farz hai,’ (‘to endeavor is a must’) is my motto in life.

What We Learnt in This Course:

We learnt the technique of how to write a screenplay properly.  The first assignment was of  a three-minute film without dialogues.

‘Three minutes – that too without dialogues – I thought, what can you portray in three minutes? Our instructor showed us how. He shared some films which we watched with keen interest. Thankfully, we realized, it is possible.

The next assignment was a three minute film with dialogues. So, each one came up with these scripts too. When we’d go to the class, we’d find our instructor Mian Adnan Ahmed had it all in his multi-media and we all could share each other’s work in class together. So, ‘actors’ were selected by the author and we’d sit and read out the roles. We realized there is some real acting talent among this group !

The scripts were interesting.

The question-answer session at the end was the real learning experience for us. We were all allowed to float our ignorance or opinions and then in the end, our teacher would put in his ideas. His input always suggested the ways in which we could make each scene more deep and expressive. It is vital to make a scene as ‘visual’ as possible and we were shown how to depict certain ideas without dialogues.

Let me say the experience was absolutely great. I’m so glad I attended it. My teacher was so sweet that he and rest of students even agreed to change the date of the last class, so I could attend it.

We saw a preview to an awesome film production by our teacher on the last day.

As they all wished me a safe trip to Seattle and a wonderful time there, I didn’t have the heart to tell them, I had lost the passport and couldn’t go now.  (If you want to know that story, here it is!)

Life is great, and rather short. Each of us must do whatever we wish to do. 🙂




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  1. Awais says:

    Beautifully written! Sad to hear about the passport trouble though

    1. Shireen Gheba Najib says:

      Thank you Awais,
      Coming from you, an established international writer, it means a lot! Yes, the passport is still not found. Perhaps, it is another story in the making! Take care.

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