The Renaissance Man – Rafay Rashdi

Being an all-rounder how would you describe yourself?

I’m a patient soul. I take time with things, and I trust people easily. I believe in taking risks, however working with planning and results. I like signing up for tasks which are not easy to do, just to take up the challenge, so that I can learn, evolve and grow. I’m a dedicated and committed individual who believes in perfectionism and execution of ideas with a tinge of class.  Some people would think I’m weird with my approach of things, and how I foresee our media industry and all I have to say is I’m a filmmaker and a story teller. I want to exhibit, show and highlight whatever is stuck in my head and in my visions.

       What do you enjoy most about your work?

I switched careers from IT industry to filmmaking, because of my belief and passion. Someone once told me in a casual conversation, that people usually prosper in what they are passionate about. All I can say is that you begin to love what you do, but there are individuals out there who don’t think or know how all passionate people feel about their passion, and that can become a major obstruction about enjoying your work. However, filmmaking and media production is what I opted for, and I love working in the field. I think I’ve done a decent job so far, because of my commitment towards my field. It’s a mix of everything, from daily production routine, to budget management, to location scouting, to content building, artist management, and then the end result. All that noise during the process shows a fantastic result on screen.

From directing a movie to managing a production house – tell us about your success journey?

it definitely has been a bumpy ride. Prior to film making I used to work as consultant for IBM. I quit IBM to contest for general elections twice, because I do see myself serving people if I ever get the chance to be victorious one day as a social worker responsibility, but at the same time I had been always telling my family (that includes my wife and my parents) that media is what sparked my interest, and filmmaking is what I wanted to get in to. It wasn’t easy, breaking the news, spending all that education money on a career and not utilizing it really doesn’t go down well with your family members. So many times I would get to hear “should’ve joined a bank instead” “should’ve done CSS” yada yada. From broke nights to even managing print jobs for companies. I’ve done all to make ends meet. I started my company 1NFLUENCE, started shooting short films and web series, understanding the architecture because I had not studied filmmaking. No one from the industry was there to hold my hand or guide me where to start from, it was completely up to me to decide my destiny, and being a son of a media personality, one would expect I would get some leverage, but no. I wanted to feel every push of the media industry to understand what I was getting into. Either way wrote a film script, which obviously had a low budget considering my film didn’t have any starts but did act as a launch pad for them (namely Bilal Abbas, Ramsha Khan, Ahsan Mohsin Ikram, Kasim Khan)

Film was completed and released last year. It was not well received. I took it as a learning opportunity. Soon I was called in by a production house to manage productions as a partner, and was able to produce 12 serials that year (Who Aik Pal, O Rung Reza, Mein Maan Nahin Banna Chati, Parchayee, Dildaarian, Zun Mureed, Teri Meri Kahani, Bandh Khirkiyan, Band Tau Bajega, Break Up Ke Baad, and Baandi). During that I also got the chance to be a producer for the first ever Pakistani International Film Festival which had film makers like S.S Rajamouli (Director of Bahubali), Nandita Das, Vinay Pathak, Anjum Rajabali, Saket Chaudry, Shobu Yalagadda, Zeenat Lakhani, Vishal Bhardwaj and many others. It’s been an incredible journey, full of learning, and meeting amazing and talent people. There is so much more to do, and I’m looking forward to it.

Enlighten us about your future projects

Now that I have parted from HUM TV, I have launched my own production house Rafay Rashdi Productions (RRP), which will focus on television concepts, web series, short films, and feature film(s). My second film Yaqeen is being penned by a writer, and the screen play will be floated to potential actors who I deem fit to play the role. It’s my second feature so would definitely be taking all the time to ensure it goes through a smooth execution.

How do you manage to balance your professional and personal life?

Weekdays can be hectic, and especially in the media industry. There’s no concept of 9-5, it’s more like 9 to Never. I leave evenings for my family and weekends are only dedicated to them. I have two daughters, and they need time so it’s always a weekend getaway, plus they do call out to stay away from the phone which can become a nuisance and they’re right.

 Is there any desire which you think still needs to be fulfilled?

I want to go to Hollywood. Maybe get a chance to work on a film set, just to feel the environment.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

I see myself running a film production house, which not only focuses on making films, but also growing the industry with emerging trends, and norms. I see myself as a contributor to the media industry in every way to professionalize the environment and to create way for new talent to make space in the entertainment industry. I see myself serving the people of Pakistan in some capacity or another as I have contested elections twice, I would like to own a social responsibility to help people and our country grow.

Who do you consider your inspiration and why?

My father. A man who started his journey from a village, settled in the city, made his mark and grew to the highest stature on strong principles, and never compromised his integrity during his career for anything, and always believed in being righteous and serving the people. He’s a perfectionist who has always been passionate about his job and his field, and it’s him who has been a source of inspiration for me my entire life. I hope I can meet his expectations as well.

 What is the good and bad thing about your job?

Good thing, media field is my passion I can never get tired of it. No matter what I can work for hours. Heck I’ve stayed up 36 hours to shoot a sequence in one go, so I can never get tired of my field. Bad thing – the rising unprofessionalism in the industry. I don’t know if our seniors implemented any rules and regulations, but it’s getting out of hand at the moment. We as young producers have a responsibility on our shoulders to fix mend and improve this industry, not just make it in to a business model and sit quietly at home.

Tell us about your association with HUMTV

HUM “was” always home, and gave me my first break. I am thankful to them for their support. Their well wishes on my recent parting will go a long way with wherever I end up in the coming years.

Things that you can’t live without

Jamaican Pattys.

Tell us about 1NFLUENCE PR

A task I offered myself for when Parwaaz Hai Junoon was about to be released. Expanded the vision of my company with this experience, and that mostly came from my feature film THORA JEE LE. I had the creative ideas intact of how to market films. I think 1NFLUENCE PR did quite well for digital promotions, and the films associated have brought in tremendous figures at the box office. So it’s a win win situation. From this point on I plan on offering the services only for the movie territory.

Any messages to our readers

A message to everyone in the media industry, believe in your vision, learn to take risks. I know it can be frustrating at times, but patience is vital. Always have faith in your vision, and make countless mistakes so that you can fail and learn. Success doesn’t come over night.