Filmmaker, Faraz Shere, is spreading positivity by highlighting social issues in telling story one video at a time, says Muskaan Sharma
The advent of digital media has made it easier to spread messages throughout the world. The amount of visual information consumed every day is unprecedented. Of all the content available online, videos are arguably the most popular way to share ideas. Right from commercial advertisements to short films, video clips are a compelling story telling tool, shaping opinions and spreading awareness. It wouldn’t be wrong then to call filmmakers the modern storytellers of society’s changing narrative.
One such storyteller, Faraz Shere, Founder of the production house, Fortune Talkies, is taking his story telling a notch higher. He and his team produce video content for reputed big brands like Yamaha, Tanishq, and Zee Music, as well as welfare organisations like UNICEF, People for Animals, and Save the Children. In addition to making creative, persuasive videos, Faraz and his team focus on bringing important social issues to the forefront. Faraz believes that highlighting social issues in the videos is an opportunity to spread positivity and awareness. “Today, thanks to social media, it doesn’t take too long for content to go viral,” he says, adding that a large chunk of visual data consumed daily is filled with sensationalised and negative content. “As a director, my job is to help my clients reach their audience and improve their sales, but as a filmmaker, I am responsible for putting forward ethical content in the digital space. I try my best to give each of the videos I produce, a human angle, so that the message being communicated touches the viewer’s’ heart.”
Faraz was motivated to do good quite early in his life. Owing to his own troubled childhood, he found solace in helping others. “My father was an extremely qualified man, but I struggled to be even an average student at school,” he says. “When I was 16, I found myself in bad company and soon my life hit rock bottom. I grew distant from my family and felt isolated.”
It was at this low point that Faraz got admission in Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), which turned his life around. “I was scarred by my childhood experiences and had forgotten what the warmth of relationships felt like,” he says. “I didn’t remember what it was like to be a person anymore. But after joining AMU, I made some really good friends, and their friendship and support helped me overcome my grief. Moreover, I understood the importance of familial bonds when I observed my friends at AMU with their families.” Faraz experienced immense personal growth by observing everything and everyone around him. These observances left a long-lasting impact on his mind, and he realised how powerful visual experiences are. “What you watch is what you become,” he says, adding that if you internalise good, you will reflect good.
While still at AMU, Faraz went on to form TEARS (Towards Educated And Responsible Society), an organisation to help the impoverished sections of society, especially young children. TEARS organised regular medical check-up camps and educational as well as cultural programmes for underprivileged children and poor families. Their efforts were widely covered by the media; funds and letters of appreciation poured in from all over the country.
Faraz believes that doing acts of goodness is not limited to either the professional or the personal life. It has to be a part of both and form a cohesive lifestyle. In addition to Fortune Talkies, Faraz also set up ‘WTSA.in’, a website promoting visual content focussing exclusively on social issues. ‘WTSA’ stands for ‘Watch, Think, Share and Act.’ Says Faraz, “We find short videos with a good message about society, nature, love, and animals and with the permission of the creator of the video, feature it on our website to help generate more views and reach a wider audience. If you go online and look up our website, you’ll notice that the introduction reads, ‘We are what we Watch, Think, Share & Act on. We are out to make the world a better place—a lot better than what it is now. Our world needs us to restore faith in a Greater Common Good, which is all we want to do.’ ”
From being a young college student to owning a successful production company, Faraz’s zeal has evolved with him. Moving forward on his quest to spread goodness, he started yet another organisation, BeSelfless, which works to improve the lives of underprivileged children. But Faraz isn’t alone in this quest. His wife and three children work alongside him to spread happiness and smiles. “There is no use of performing charitable acts in the world if you can’t sensitise the people close to you about social issues,” he says. “BeSelfless is my legacy to my children. They are helping me build it, and I fund whatever the organisation requires. It’s a way for me to impart my principles of goodness to my children.” Over time, BeSelfless has gradually expanded, drawing many others who believe in its cause of spreading goodness.
Being true to oneself and doing good daily is a way of life for Faraz. “In every conversation I have, I try to be as truthful as I can. Truth paves the way to goodness.” He even has a personal mantra that doesn’t allow him to blatantly lie. “Unless they’re white lies to shield relationships or avoid hurting people,” he says in jest. Faraz believes that falsehood harbours negativity and we have an abundance of it in our world. It is time we start believing in the capability of people to receive goodness and reflect it. “Thanks to social media, we can now speak our mind at the click of a button. The words we utter have consequences. We must make a choice to speak good and not bad.”
Faraz is praised by his clients for being a passionate, professional, and positive human being. Though ambitious, he knows how to be content. “As soon as we achieve our goals, we get hungry for more. We don’t celebrate or cherish our achievements. I am my own boss, but that doesn’t make my life free of struggles. I find solace in knowing that my job fulfils my needs. In doing so, I limit my wants, and once you do that, you won’t be desperate for anything more. I feel powerful knowing that I am content. I can do more good and help more people. That is what makes me successful, and not the profits I have earned.”
As we come to the end of our conversation, I ask Faraz if he has any important message and he goes on to share his feeling that one can’t perform acts of goodness without being good in the first place. “Invest your time and good intentions in people. Earn their loyalty. It’s such an underappreciated quality these days. Try to find people who are passionate and good at heart. Surround yourself with positivity and rejoice in the company of good people.”
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