New Delhi: After the success of her socially charged music video and COVID-19 shorts, Dubai activist filmmaker and CEO of boutique film production house Zen Film Productions Zenofar Fathima is prepared to tap into her viewers’ spirituality with her newest short film project, Ayah. “I’ve always been one to embed social messages within all of my cinematic projects. Ayah is no different in that regard, but it will seek to explore spirituality in the context of Islam rather than typical social matters like what I’ve done in the past”, Zenofar said about her newest project. Afraah Farhana codirects the film alongside the Dark Tale filmmaker.
Ayah, which in Arabic translates to miracle, sign or evidence, will explore how supplications or “Dua”- the Arabic term for private prayers or invocations- can defy logic, and enhance our relationship between ourselves and the Almighty in ways that transcend barriers like one’s social status, age, or other factors. “The key message here is that God’s miracles do not discriminate, and to have faith in God’s ability to bless our lives and make situations work out in the most unexpected of ways,” expressed the Tomorrow Never Came filmmaker. “God is omnipresent and omnipotent- He can change anyone’s life in the matter of seconds. So we must have faith in Him, regardless of the trials He tests us with. Remember Him, and He will remember you and help you in ways you could have never imagined. This is what Ayah is all about,” she explained.
The project is proudly under the patronage of Emirati princess, philanthropist and entrepreneur Sheikha Hend bint Faisal Al-Qasimi. “Sheikha Hend is a dear friend and has always supported me throughout my journey in the industry. I’m so honored to have her support for Ayah,” said Zenofar.
Ayah also marks a milestone for Zenofar’s career, with the project featuring a collaboration with Firdaus Studio by A.R. Rahman as the official facility of choice for the filming of the project. Having opened its doors in early 2022, Firdaus Studio is an alliance between Expo 2020 Dubai and Academy Award-winning composer A.R. Rahman. “I’m quite excited to be working with a state-of-the-art facility that is associated with the legendary A.R. Sir. It is a very innovative space, and sky’s the limit with what artists can achieve in here,” remarked Zenofar.
Another focal point of the project is the creative plunge Zenofar seeks to take with the narrative aspect of the film. In stark contrast to her previous projects, Ayah takes on an “art imitates life” approach. “The plot involves the viewers of the Ayah short film, watching an audience who are also watching a play titled Ayah, wherein a series of short narratives start to play out on stage. The film will also feature little to no dialogue,” explained Zenofar. “Though it will be a challenge, this meta-cinematic approach to the film is something I believe will have a particularly reflexive impact on how the actual audience will receive the film,” she said.
The spiritual short will be scored by Indian music composer, producer and singer HiralViradia. Besides being a music supervisor, producer and editor for A.R. Rahman, she has also closely worked on projects such as Netflix’s House of Secrets, Atrangi Re and Dil Bechara.
Ayah is currently in the pre-production phase, and is set for a May end release.