Q&A with Asad Farooqui

Q&A with Asad Farooqui

Stephanie Davison, Staff Reporter

Meet Asad Farooqui, one of Central Washington University’s Film Studies lecturers. Professor Farooqui has earned international acclaim from critics and peers alike for his recent short film Mabrook, which he screened at Palm Springs International Film Festival in June. The film will also soon be presented at the Atlanta Film Festival, the New Orleans Film Festival, and the Bentonville (Arkansas) Film Festival. 

Q: What got you interested in filmmaking? 

A: I could hear the clock ticking; that’s what Corporate American life can do to you. I had taken a Theater 101 class as a requirement as an undergraduate at Emory University and loved the collaborative process of theater. I auditioned for a play that same semester, having no background in acting, and ended up landing a lead role. It was euphoric to say the least: the teamwork, camaraderie, performances in front of live audiences… that feeling, however, was short-lived. I graduated and started the 9 to 5 routine. I felt useless in that lifestyle. I had to try something different just to remain happy. I looked up how to write short films and ended up making four films in a period of five months. I applied to the Columbia University Graduate Film Program and got in.

Q: What is it about your film, Mabrook, that makes it so universal and relatable to audiences of all backgrounds? 

A: The protagonist. He’s a struggling actor attempting to figure out life and do something that isn’t your conventional South Asian career. He obviously doesn’t have the kind of familial support that he wishes he could. I find that to be a universal subject. There aren’t too many support systems for people delving into creative careers. Then there’s the dysfunctional family, dinner table arguments, hidden relationships…surely, audiences can relate to those issues.

Q: What are some of your favorite films? 

A: I have quite a few, but if I must pin it down to five, I’d have to say Do the Right Thing by Spike Lee; Monsoon Wedding by Mira Nair, La Strada by Federico Fellini, Close Up by Abbas Kiarostami, and American Beauty by Sam Mendes.

Q: What are some of your favorite books? 

A: Catcher in the Rye. The impact this book had on me as an adolescent is like none other. I read it in one day and I didn’t think I was capable of such a feat at that time in my life. There’s a reason why so many American filmmakers such as Spielberg and Scorsese have tried to get the film rights for it but haven’t been successful. The story, the main character of Holden Caulfield, just everything Salinger did within the pages felt perfect. It’s the most honest book I’ve read. Other books that have impacted me are Notes from Underground and The Idiot by Dostoevsky; The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti by Mohammad Hanif, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

Q: What are some of your favorite hobbies? 

A: I mainly enjoy writing and playing basketball in my free time. I’d say watching films as well, but that’s also a part of work.