As we prepare to celebrate Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 85th birthday in festivity and happiness, make sure to tune in for Courage for the Journey, an all-volunteer production, premiering on The Ismaili TV on 11 December 2021.
This uplifting film tells the stories of different groups of people and their interpretations of Farid ud-Din Attar’s epic mystical poem Mantiq al-Tayr (The Conference of the Birds), featuring accomplished Ismaili actors from around the world
The Conference of the Birds, a well-known story in the Persian-speaking world, follows a flock of birds on a quest in search of their king. The birds travel through seven valleys and face numerous challenges along the way.
The film opens with a parent and child reading the story together from the Talim Primary Four book, A Fountain of Stories. Viewers are then taken on a visual and musical journey, while exploring several aspects of the human psyche through the lens of different characters. Director of the production Shermina Sayani spoke of the unique aspects of the film, and the various challenges of remote production.
“It's wonderful in the sense that we've been able to go back to the roots of a story that has a lot of relevance today, but also to observe it from a number of different perspectives,” she said.
Every part of the show has been developed by volunteers who gave of their time towards the project. Using in-person film crews, scenes were shot in Karachi, Dubai, Mumbai, Vancouver, Los Angeles, and London.
“We have engaged in non-linear editing - there were several people in numerous parts of the world working on different sections of the film, and we tried to bring it all together while keeping the storyline as tightly woven together as we could,” continued Shermina.
While including laughs and touching moments, the production also contains a valuable message; particularly timely during challenging times such as this. Via the dialogues between the characters, we are encouraged to find the strength to venture on our own journeys of self-discovery, and to take a look within, just as the 30 birds do in Attar’s poem.
The birds in the poem also recognise the need for a guide to help them navigate the seven valleys and the challenges on their quest to meet the Divine. In the Ismaili Tariqah, the Imam-of-the-Time guides his murids in spiritual and worldly matters. The occasion of Salgirah is a celebration of this ever-present guide in our lives, our beloved Hazar Imam.
A supporting cast of video editors, digital artists, and illustrators have added an extra dimension to the film footage, including visual effects and animations. The result is a film based on a 12th century poem brought into the modern day, promising something for everyone.
“It’s a production for children and families because of the storyline and animation, but it’s also for anyone interested in our traditions of poetry and storytelling - it incorporates some beautifully recited expressions of devotion,” Shermina said.
“And the artwork and illustrations are definitely a surprise. The story is brought to life by the animators and the video editors - it's like nothing we've seen before.”
To set out on your own inner voyage of discovery, and to commemorate our beloved Imam’s 85th birthday, join us for the uplifting Courage for the Journey, premiering on 11 December exclusively on The Ismaili TV.