Nina on the set of ‘Mata-e-Jaan’
Nina on the set of ‘Mata-e-Jaan’

As a child, Nina Kashif moved from one military base to another. “My parents wanted me to become a doctor or an engineer,” she says, smiling. “This was never part of the plan.” What Nina enigmatically refers to as “this” is a media career in one of the biggest production houses in the country. As the general manager of all things creative at M.D Productions (formerly Moomal Productions), Nina has her work cut out for her — from reading scripts to soothing temperamental actors to attending to the director’s last-minute wish list. But she thrives in this environment, seeking solutions to challenges and savouring the praise and recognition that comes from a hit drama serial. “Once the project is out, and especially if it’s a hit” she says, “everything, including the fights, are forgotten, and everyone is one big happy family.”


Mahira Khan & Nina

‘After the scene ended, everyone was crying. I have never seen anything like it in my eight years in the industry’

Marriage, says Nina, gave her wings. She attributes much of her success and wellbeing to her husband Kashif and their two kids, Affaf and Salaar. “My family is happy if I’m happy,” she says. Nina’s first stint in the media was at MTV where she worked, among other things, with a little-known VJ by the name of Mahira Khan on MTVs “Most Wanted.”  Many years later, Nina and Mahira’s paths were to cross again, when Mahira starred in Humfasar, of which Nina was the senior producer. Humsafar exploded on the screen, becoming one of Pakistan’s most popular drama serials ever to be aired. Fawad and Mahira Khan shot to fame overnight, but it was also Nina’s first breakthrough. “My husband’s friends would see me in the credits and tell him, ‘wow, bhabhi is doing a great job!’” she laughs. “Before Humsafar, it was very much ghar ki murghi, daal baraabar.”


Many years later, Nina and Mahira’s paths were to cross again on the set of Humsafar

“Mahira is like a younger sister to me,” Nina tells me. “When she and I go to a restaurant, we have to find the smallest corner in the room where no one will see us!” Ditto with Fawad: when Nina joined Fawad and his wife for dinner at a Thai restaurant in Karachi soon after the release of Humsafar, almost everyone, at one point, came to their table for an autograph or a picture. When Nina talks about the project, there is wistfulness in her voice: “Everyone on set had great relationships.” This is unusual for drama serials where misunderstandings, fights, and egos compete. “God rewarded everyone working on Humsafar for having good intentions. These were all good, sincere, talented, self-made people.”


Giving tips to Sarwat Gilani on the set of ‘Mata-e-Jaan’
Giving tips to Sarwat Gilani on the set of ‘Mata-e-Jaan’

On the set of Dastaan, when the shoot was running late and half the costumes had not arrived, Saba Qamar arrived with things like parandas and chooris from her own house

After Humsafar, Nina worked on Mata-e-Jaan, one of my personal favourites, starring Sarwat Gilani, Adeel Hussain and Javed Sheikh. An incredibly well-done project about the lives of two Columbia students, it was shot in part at the university in Manhattan. The list of serials Nina has worked on as a producer are impressive for their range and the quality of their commercial success. Among them are Vasl (directed by Mehreen Jabbar), Daastaan (directed by Haissam Hussain), Paani Jaisa Pyaar (directed by Sarmad Khoosat of Humsafar fame), Mata-e-Jaan (directed by Mehreen Jabbar), Bilqees Kaur (directed by Adnan Ahmed) and Hamnasheen (directed by Siraj ul Haq). The forthcoming “Muhabbat Subha ka Sitara hai” (directed by Sakina Samoo) stars Mikal Khan, Adeel Hussain, Sanam Jung, Mira Sethi, Hira Tareen and others.

Mikaal Khan, Nina, Sanam Jung & Adeel Hussain
Mikaal Khan, Nina, Sanam Jung & Adeel Hussain
With Mehreen Jabbar & Noor Naghmi
With Mehreen Jabbar & Noor Naghmi
With Mehreen Jabbar & Noor Naghmi
Nina & Mahira
Mikaal Khan, Sarmad Khoosat & Nina on the set of ‘Paani Jaisa Pyaar’

Nina attributes much of her success, and confidence, to Mr Ghazanfar Ali (who helped her get started at MTV) and Momina Duraid, the CEO of MD Productions. “They have been a source of inspiration and guidance for me through out. The credit for everything I have learnt goes to these two individuals.” I asked how she balances her hyper-demanding career with the demands of her children and family. “I’d be lying if I said it’s a piece of cake,” she says. “But I work hard.” She adds, playfully, “I have always believed in having my cake and eating it too, so this lifestyle is fine insofar as I maintain a balance!”


One of Nina’s most satisfying and moving experiences came on the set of Dastaan, a Razia Butt novel, Bano, adapted to the screen. “We had to work hard to make the serial as beautiful as the book,” she says. In a country where historical archives are dumped in horse stables (as was recently discovered), Nina tells me there was little visual or historical information with which to create a genuine feel for Dastaan, which is a period drama. It tells the story of Bano, a girl from a closeknit Muslim family living in Ludhiana (in Punjab) in the pre-1947 era. The plot centers around Bano and her fiancée, as they battle the upheavals caused by Partition. Dastaan was the first project of its kind made in Pakistan, and by Nina’s telling, also a one-of-a-kind experience in her career as a producer. “The research involved was extensive; we had to go through movies, clips and endless other sources to get the look and feel of Dastaan just right.” Notable locations of shooting included the Islamic College, the Badshahi Masjid as well as the Pakistan Railways Station. Nina recalls a moment on the set when her eyes welled-up-because the scene they had just shot was so moving. In the July heat of Lahore, in the walled city, some 50 or so actors including Saba Qamar, Sanam Baloch and Ahsan Khan were shooting. After the scene ended, Nina says, “Everyone on the set was crying, I have never seen anything like it in my eight years in the industry.”


Nina with the Humsafar team

Nina goes onto praise Saba Qamar for being a versatile actress with incredible range. “She’s a professional, and completely self-made.”  She recounts how once on the set of Dastaan, when the shoot was running late and half the costumes had not arrived, Saba arrived on set with things like parandas and chooris from her own house — a reflection of her dedication. I asked Nina how she feels working closely with the biggest stars in the country, and in many instances, toiling behind the scenes to make them into the stars they are. “I always believed in giving more than receiving,” she says. “It’s great to see artists prosper in life in a way that your own contribution is evident too.” Nina Kashif is the classic urban working mom: practical, motivated, generous with her praise. From a shy teenager to a newly-wed housewife to managing director of all things creative in the most influential production house in the country, Nina Kashif has had a whirlwind journey. We wish her continued success.


Nina’s Wardrobe: Sania Maskatiya

Makeup and Styling: Beenish Pervez

Good Times


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