Mahdi Ahmed

in writing

An Impromptu Infomercial

This is an impromptu infomercial I compiled for Aaaveee Nature’s Paradise. Enjoy!

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Black and White

Few black and white snaps.

Bokeh

A Selection of bokeh shots I have tried over the years.

Mud boy

On our visit to the beautiful mangrove of Huraa, my son loved sitting in the mud.

Trip to Huraa

My trip to Huraa with family.

A NEAT SURPRISE!

When producer/ director, Mohamed Aboobakuru aka Maaenboo asked me to write Neydhen Vakivaakah, I repeatedly requested him that he should take it as a challenge to make it better than all the movies he has done so far. After watching the premiere of the film last night, I am really impressed and happy to see that he has risen to the occasion by delivering a pleasantly well-balanced film that the audience thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. This is his best work to this date by many miles.

Official Poster

Few minutes into the film, I knew the audience was hooked. They had a whale of a time reacting to the jokes, the unexpected twists and turns that were unconventional for a romantic drama including some red herrings thrown here and there. Above all the performances by the entire cast kept the audience fully engaged.  My wife, my strictest critique from whose feedback I always consider if a film I have written has hit the bullseye, rated it as one of the most delightful screenplays I have written so far. Phew!

As usual, the heavyweight actors, Yoosuf Shafeeu, Fathimath Azeesha, Ahmed Saeed and Arifa Ibrahim were a real treat to watch. The role played by Yoosuf Shafeeu reminded me of his National Award winning role from Vehey Vaarey Therein but with more contrast, control and maturity.

Fathimath Azeesha played the sympathetic girl next door who has shut herself from any romantic involvement because of a tragic past. She kept her acting simple and believable as her character comes of out the shell, goes back in, comes out again only to find that she has much bigger sufferings to confront.

There’s nothing more to be said of Ahmed Saeed. In this film, he once again turned in a memorable performance. This actor can play any given role he is offered with his eyes closed. He has proven how versatile he is by playing completely different characters in three of his films that were released this year.

But it was fashion designer/ choreographer, Jaadhulla Ismail in his maiden role in a film that surprised everyone. He was very likable and showed great depth in his acting. He was funny in the first half with his comic timing spot on. He then showed unbelievable restraint in the second half by relying entirely on his acting as he had barely any dialogues to deliver. He understood his character well and was aware of his character arc. I hope he continues to appear in many more films.

Shoutout also goes to Ahmed Azmeel and Naashidha. Their roles were small but they were important to the narrative.

I congratulate the entire team for a job well done. Keep up the good work in entertaining the audience.

Cheers!

FEELING LIMITLESS

When my wife, my life long critique who would stop at nothing to cut me up even at the slightest of opportunities cried, I mean not a drop or two but a lot, after watching Hahdhu, then it’s a reason to rejoice. And it also means she’s impressed big time. Her feedback is all that mattered to me.

Though I have boasted about this movie for so long, this post is once again what I felt after watching it from the silver screen. The film was premiered for the media this evening at Schwack Cinema.

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I am so overwhelmed with excitement and happiness that I don’t know from where to begin. The cast, the crew, I mean every department of this film were outstanding. Period. But I am going to start with newcomer Ahmed Shiban. All eyes were set on him ever since he was cast in the leading role. For me, he has come out with flying colors. He was in his character throughout the film. The way he handled his character’s introvert traits and his slow transition from the start to finish was commendable. Surprisingly, he was way too comfortable with the two leading ladies. And more surprising was his emotions were completely different with each lady. As for those six packs of his, he made the ladies swoon and guys green.

In my previous post, I have mentioned that this film is a tale of two leading ladies. The narrative intercuts between the lives of Yusra and Zamha played to perfection by filmdom’s most sought after actresses, Mariyam Azxza and Aminath Rishfa respectively. Though neither of them shares screen time in the film, they were neck and neck in their performances.

In Hahdhu, Azxza has given a flawless performance in a role that any actor would die for to sink their teeth into. And as Yusra, she bites deep into her character to show a variety of shades from a free spirited girl without boundaries to a girl who has to in the end draw a boundary around her. She was beyond brilliance showcasing a range of emotions as she handled her character with aplomb.

As for Rishfa, she is in a stellar form showing her acting abilities that we haven’t seen from her before. She brilliantly portrays the assured life of Yusra while showing the fragilities and volatilities of life when her own comes crumbling down. She allows the audience to go down with her and succumb to her sadness. She made us easily empathize with her character. She also showed great restraint in her acting. This is one stunning performance.

Dhon Ayya keeps raising the bar with each role he plays. In Hahdhu, he shows his vulnerability and his transformation to accept life as a changed person is so believable and very relatable. Another great performance by this promising actor. I wish great things happening for him.

After a long hiatus from films, veteran actor Fauziyya Hassan returns to the screen as an over cautious mother whose life spirals down to the point of no return when her pride is beaten to a pulp. She made my heart shatter into pieces in one of the pivotal scenes where she shows her acting prowess in a long play shot. Just magic.

This film is packed with stunning performances from the entire cast especially by the veteran actors along with Fauziyya. Add to that list, Mohamed Rasheed. He gives a top-notch performance as an understanding father who is also very philosophical. His performance is very controlled yet in his eyes and in his delivery allowed me to sink in with his emotions. This King rules.

Another veteran who shines and almost steals the shows is Arifa Ibrahim. She takes her acting to another level but supports everyone around her to excel with her as well. She does wonders with her one-liners. Truly brilliant.

Mariyam Shakeela is often an overlooked actor, but in Hahdhu, she gives a mesmerizing performance. Though she has few scenes, she allows the audience to understand her character’s inner and outer self especially in a crucial scene where her transformation is delivered without any dialog. Well done.

Honourable mention goes to Mariyam Haleem, Aminath Rasheeda and Gulistan for turning in equally great performances as strong independent women we rarely get to see in local films. This is by far their best performances in their careers. Also, I add Najah to the list as boat captain Mohamedbe from whose sympathetic eyes we get to witness the toughest of times that the principal characters go through.

The cute girl who plays the happy daughter of Rishfa takes on an emotionally charged role showing talent beyond her age. Her eyes are so expressive.

Lastly, in the acting department, TV anchor Ahmed Fairooz surprised everyone by bringing his small screen charm and charisma to the big screen with an unbelievable performance. He shows he has acting chops to compete with all the heavy weights of the filmdom. And his comic timing is spot on.

This film wouldn’t be complete without the thought-provoking songs written exclusively for the film’s narrative by Theyra and all the songs performed together with his wife Ashfa. Three cheers to them and the formidable and creative team behind composing and arranging all the songs including additional vocals to one of my favorite songs, Thaubaa. Ashfa’s haunting vocals to my favorite scene still lingers. Well done everyone.

On the technical side, kudos to the breath-taking cinematography by Kandi Vishan. Through his lens, he captivates the audience with the beauty of the islands in never-before seen footages in a local film thus far. This will easily register as his best and his finest of work.

Ju Ma has done an admirable job with makeup changing the actors so smoothly from glamorous to gloomy or vice-versa. He kept his tones and shades properly to the situation his characters were in with every scene. Moreover, his choreography to Giritee Loabin, all I can say is bravo!

When he is given a canvas with creative freedom, whiz kid, Ahmed Sajid has shown his magic in post-production. His editing crisp, well paced and color grading looks refreshing. And when his visual effects go unnoticed by the audience, then the job he has done is deemed perfect.

I wasn’t sure when musician Mistee was commissioned to compose the score for this film. But now I don’t see anyone else doing it. His music has given a new life to this film by enhancing the emotions of the actors and tying them directly to the heart strings of the audience. His build up to the climax is praiseworthy. He has done wonders and magic in the most pivotal scene of the film. Even as I type this, the goosebumps haven’t subsided. Brilliant work.

The team Hahdhu was made stronger by Umar Ashfaq and Hoodh Ahmed. They were the hard working production assistants. I congratulate them for a job well done.

I thank with all my heart to Niuma Mohamed and Abdul Fatthaah for producing this film which I wrote some 8 years ago for the latter. If not for them, my screenplay would still be lying on the shelf, collecting more dust and cobwebs. Thank you! Thank you!

Finally, cometh the hour, cometh the man. Abdul Fatthaah is the assured captain who sailed and steered this ship to new heights with such a multi-talented cast and a creative crew. In his long journey to bring my screenplay to screen, he inspired everyone in his team to outshine in their respective departments. I salute him for giving up on his old style of film making and after an absence of two years without directing a film, he returned by revamping himself by applying a very current style of film making for his 12th film of his career. The impact was immediately felt from the opening scene to the final credits. This feels like a film directed by a new director. This I consider his masterpiece.

This film will go down in the history of Dhivehi cinema as the first film to exhibit with 5.1 surround sound. Now that’s what I call setting benchmarks and developing the local film industry. Kudos to Fatthaah for giving the green signal. Once again it was Mistee who was at the helm of this audacious task along with Sajid at designing and mixing the sound. Their hard work has paid dividends and given this emotional roller coaster ride a thrilling experience. But sadly, the 5.1 surround will only be experienced from the cinemas owned by Schwack.

I hope that the audience will talk about this film even long after watching this film. For me, this film has clearly set a new benchmark. It’s well paced, well acted and technically brilliant and even innovative. I congratulate team Hahdhu and I do look forward to another film from them.

Cheers!

 

LET’S FLY

The upcoming emotional roller coaster ride, Hahdhu has released their second and final music video, Udhuhilamaa from their OST. Watch the song from the link below.

The song focuses on the budding relationship between Yusraa and Ali played by Azxza and Shiban respectively. Their chemistry looks impressive. The song builds up from love to lust and then ends with violence as Ali is beaten very brutally. Does he get killed? All this will be answered on 06th September 2017.

The cinematography by Kandi is breathtaking.  Also, a highlight is the real life couple, Ashfa and Theyra who performs this song with real gusto doing a strong appearance in the video.  Even their chemistry looks striking.

Hahdhu is less than a week away from its premiere.

Cheers!

 

 

THE SECRET LIFE OF AHMED FAIROOZ

A few hours ago, the big secret I have been itching to reveal ever since I first saw his scenes from upcoming film Hahdhu, has been finally unveiled tonight through a live feed from his Facebook page. After that, the final trailer, with his footages was also uploaded.

 

Ahmed Fairooz who is well known nationwide as a steadfast anchor previously working at Raaje TV will make his feature film debut in Hahdhu. And what a debut it’s going to be. From the very first scenes of his, I was in awe to see him sharing screen time with heavy weights with aplomb and stealing every scene he was in.  I even wondered if it was his first attempt at acting in films. He looks like a pro.

His charming screen presence is arresting while his comic timing spot on. Check out the final shot of the new trailer. I thank him for showcasing his acting chops on films and bravo Fatthaah for casting him. I remember how I kept nagging Fatthaah if Fairooz has what it takes to act in a film. He literally dislocated my jaw by surprising me completely and come 6th September his charisma will have audience begging for more. I also predict that he will have producers running after him. In my opinion, he is ready to take a leading role in any romantic film.

 

Hahdhu is a week away from unveiling his natural talent as an actor. It’s one of the biggest reasons to be excited about the film.

Cheers!

REGARDING FATTHAAH

It was the night of 31st December of 2002, at the award ceremony of TVM’s Inter-Office Teledrama Competition which was held earlier that year, Ministry of Atolls Administration, the Ministry I represented with historical drama, November 3 was losing out in all the categories. The awards for best director and best drama were remaining. By then, I had given up hope on winning any from those two.

Though to win the best director award, the one and only award Atolls won that night, was a consolation, but receiving it from an exceptional film maker was a moment to cherish. It was not only an honor but even salvaged my New Year’s Eve from becoming a disappointment.

That was the first time I came face to face with this film maker who was not only an alumnus of this competition but also made a name for himself by previously winning best director three years in a row. His transition to filmdom was swift and successful. In a short span of time, he made it to the top of the finest directors’ list of the local film industry and to date, he still remains as a cut above the rest. He is director Abdul Fatthaah.

Fatthaah

Although that night I closed the door to this competition for good after having successfully represented Atolls for five consecutive years, winning a total of 14 awards, almost two years later, Fatthaah opened a new one for me.

It was one morning of January 2005, I was waiting outside my office which was located on the Marine Drive back then. Fatthaah stopped on his motorbike right next to me. He asked me for my mobile number which, without any hesitation, I gave. He went on his way and I went inside my office. A few minutes later, I received a call from an unknown number. I answered it and it was him. He said he just wanted to assure that if it was my number. I laughed and the rest was history.

As I look back on my 12 years of collaboration with him and still counting, it gives me a smile on my face and a joy to my heart as it was in this very collaboration that gave me the opportunity to develop and enrich my screenwriting craft. He gave me all the creative freedom to experiment whatever I wanted. And for that, I thank him with all my heart.

My first work with him was 2005 melodrama, Hureemey Inthizaarugai. But writing it was the most unconventional in my screenwriting career so far. Due to scheduling conflicts of the production, I had to write the third act first and within 08 days.

Since Fatthaah was a solid director and just to experience what it’s like to be breaking rules, I threw caution to the wind and decided to step out of my comfort zone. I only had few plot points that he gave me for the first, second act and couple of specific scenes that he wanted to stage for the third act. So based on all these points and scenes, I outlined the third act. It was both challenging and nerve wracking. But I must admit that it was fun.

In 2005, TV drama of 13 episodes, Kuramey Vadhaai Salaam, which Fatthaah directed was a starring vehicle for newcomer Mariyam Afeefa. It was a warm up for her to her leading role in the feature film, Vaa Loabi Engeynama produced by Fatthaah in 2006. The film went on to win a total of 12 accolades at the 5th National Film Awards including Best Picture and Best Actress for Afee.

On the late morning of 21st February 2006, Fatthaah and I met at West Park to discuss a TV drama of 52 episodes that he was going to produce and direct for TVM under his production banner, Red Productions. He already had a concept and a catchy title. He also had three actors selected for the lead. It was about the ups and downs of the life of two childhood female friends as they grew up on an island. He specifically wanted the first 32 episodes to be set in his birth island, Ha. Kelai. And the remaining episodes in Male’. The serial was called Hinithunvelaashey Kalaa.

Since I love writing on female protagonists, this serial had two, I instantly got hooked on his concept. It only took me a whole week to outline the entire serial. When I presented the outline, he had nothing to add. I started writing a day or two later.

Like yesterday, I still remember the hunger I had, which was over flowing from my mind and heart, when I wrote this serial. I was so drowned deep into this world of these two ladies, I even had to set a goal of writing an episode per day since Fatthaah sailed off with his cast and crew to start production. And yes, it took me 32 days to finish the needed 32 episodes.

I remember on weekends waking up in the middle of the night, starts writing and continued until late morning and sometimes until afternoon. I was writing non-stop. And it is in this very series that I refined my favorite of genre, rom-com. One of the main characters in this series was Inaa, who’s a bit tomboyish. But her interaction with Adeel, a drug addict who’s been banished to her island, has several unforgettable rom-com moments thrown around in several episodes. Their parts and the entire series was well received by the public.

Even after 11 years, I still feel upset when Fatthaah changed one of my favorite scenes I wrote in this series. Inaa was loved by her community and she does everything that men did including participating in a cultural stick dance only performed by men. But that stick dance scene of Inaa with all the men was altered by Fatthaah claiming that women don’t participate in such traditional dances. That was the whole point. Guess women empowerment was not a serious subject back then.

In 2007 I tried a full blown comedy with Aharenge Lha Daddy which Fatthaah produced and directed for TVM. Everyone loved this miniseries of 5 episodes which focused on an aging father who’s still young at heart and liked dating young girls.

Vaudhey Mi Ee was another TV series of 13 episodes he directed for TVM. He also wrote the first 8 episodes. But he commissioned me to write from episodes 9-13. It was aired in 2013.

Though we didn’t collaborate in any serials or films since 2013, I had a stint in writing 5 short documentaries on the environment that he directed for UNDP.

To think about the amount of writing I did for all the serials and films included, it’s like I have written a total of 35 feature length films of 90 minutes.

After his last film, Aadheys directed in 2014, Fatthaah is set to return to the silver screen with his 12th direction, Hahdhu with a loud bang. My prediction is that it’s going to be louder or loudest even. For this film, he has revamped his visual style completely. Though he has made his visual flair more current, he has added the most effective and challenging old-school film making technique, the long play. And he doesn’t over-do it. His new style has brought a sense of realism to the entire narrative of the film. And it has given the opportunity for every actor to shine brightly. And he hasn’t given up on showing off his eye for landscape either. The travelogue experience will be an added bonus.

Speaking of Hahdhu, it was written back in 2009 as a project he wanted to do with Dash Studio with an entirely different working title, on a simple concept he came up with. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the project was shelved. Guess it happened for a very good reason. Having it halted for 8 years, allowed him to mature, grow and when he gained his confidence, he completely overhauled his visual style. I salute him for the risk he has taken for the development of our local film industry and to entertain the audience who complains about local films not meeting their expectations. Hahdhu has all the right ingredients to blow out the expectation roof.

Hahdhu will be premiered on 06th September 2017.

Cheers!