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A true artist at heart, Dawer Khan isn’t just a videogragpher, but a storyteller. This young talent speaks to Mehek Raza Rizvi about his inspiration, switching degrees and drive

How did you enter the world of videography?

Homeschooling, a computer, a webcam and my dad’s picture on the desktop was all I needed to find the inner director in me. As a homeschooled child I had ample  time to experiment and channel my energy into what felt right to me. Growing up, I watched Dragon Ball Z and got fascinated by the ‘quicker than lightening’ Goku. Using Goku, his friends and their adventures to protect Earth from villains as inspiration, I delved into the world of VFX. I learnt to create balls of lightening with my webcam footage. Believe me, those edited videos of me will threaten Goku’s existence.

Who were your earliest influences? Was there a love for the arts at home while you were growing up?

Well, I was mostly influenced by videography channels on YouTube like FilmRiot and Video Copilot; I also followed channels that were teaching video editing skills that are too expensive to learn in Pakistan. YouTube proved to be my knight in shining armour, by saving and nurturing my passion for videography, in a world that offers no free lunches.

As for a love for the arts at home, the answer truly depends on how you define art. Art is beauty to me and since my childhood, my mother taught me to look for beauty in every small thing. Therefore, for me, even the way my mother flips her rotis is pure art. Similarly, the way my younger brother smiles and oddly squints his eyes is art to me, as well as the way his pet hen twitches its neck every split second.

We hear you changed your degree from engineering to media studies. What made you change your mind and how supportive was your family?

“I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am ” — these words by C.H.Cooley have had a profound impact on my life. I grew up thinking I needed to be a software engineer, because that’s what was ingrained in my head from the start.

However, once I started college, I realised that engineering is not my cup of tea. I also didn’t want to be a corporate slave. If physical slavery is wrong, so is slavery of the spirit.

Once I was resolute, I switched to media studies. My family was quite supportive because they saw how passionate I was about charting my own path in life.

Tell us about your experience at NCA.

The first time I heard about NCA was when a neighbour told me I belonged there, as he watched me carefully paint eggs. When I decided to switch from engineering to media studies, that memory came back to me and I knew I wanted to go to NCA.

That institution has quite literally changed my life. Besides enhancing my directing skills, I delved into acting. My alma mater has constantly pushed me to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone.

What would you say was your “breakout moment?”

I’d say it was when I got a call from SiddySays; they wanted me to work on a video and I consider that as the moment my career launched. I was introduced to the commercial market for the first time.

What was your first commercial project as a director like?

When I was nineteen, the CEO of a microfinance bank took a leap of faith by handing me a significant project for his firm. It was a short film that narrated the bank’s successful journey.

I remember being very nervous as I had never seen (let alone signed) a contract or worked professionally before. I discussed my nerves with a mentor and he jokingly told me the worst case scenario would include me ending up behind bars for breach of contract (quite thrilling, no?).

However, I knew signing on for this project would be great exposure and open many doors for me.

When I asked the CEO why he put his trust in an amateur like me, he told me that he was one of the youngest CEOs of a microfinance bank and believed in the significance of trusting young talent.

You’ve spoken about the importance of marketing yourself and your work well. How do you go about it?

Marketing yourself requires confidence and standing your ground. It seems daunting and at times even annoying, but needs to be done if one wants to do well. As harsh as it may sound, I believe your skills and talent are useless if they fail to build a market for you. In today’s world of social media, you won’t be able to create demand for your work if you’re unable to build trust amongst your audience through your personal brand.

When I was sixteen, I bought an antique camera from Landa Bazaar and ended up selling it for five times the original price. Therefore, to this day, I’m convinced that if one can successfully market the assets they possess, they can gain profit off something as “useless” as a rusty old camera.

As fresh, young talent, which are some unexplored areas in your field of work that you’d want to explore more?

I believe I’ve just dipped my feet in a pond of the creative world. There is a sea of unexplored areas that I’ve yet to explore in my field of work.

Pakistan consists of such rich cultures and diverse communities that give rise to multiple unique stories that can be portrayed through short films, movies and documentaries. Also, I feel like these areas are not that prominent in our film industry, hence, I’m looking forward to working on these specific areas and challenge myself to showcase the true essence of Pakistani culture.

What sets you apart?

My work is what sets me apart. If one solely concentrates on the commercial aspects of a project, it kills the very spirit of one’s skills. I tend to take up projects that give me the liberty to portray stories in a way that is reflective of me and my aesthetic.

Tell us about the upcoming projects you’re excited about.

I’ve always longed for telling a story and showcasing my art through short films. Therefore, the second university started I clutched onto the opportunity of directing a short film that I’m extremely excited about debuting. Moreover, there are a handful of projects in the pipeline for brands such as Mobilink, Toyota and Hush Puppies that I’m working on.


When did you first realise you want to be a fashion designer?

It was just written in my fate

First outfit you designed?

For a friend’s sister for Rs. 3500

Three skills one needs to survive in fashion.

  1. Imagination
  2. Vision
  3. Craft

Describe fashion weeks in 3 words?

  1. Ostentatious
  2. Theatrical
  3. Fun

How do you react to fashion being called frivolous, wasteful and indulgent?

All of this works for me. I made a career out of it

Apart from yourself, which Pakistani designers Do you think are doing admirable work?

Faraz Manan and Elan

Favourite models from the current lot?

Zara Abid

Who would you say is your muse?

Meesha Shafi

How do you react to knockoffs?

*Eye Roll*

A Fashion trend you can’t stand?

Patiala shalwar

Your response to those who call your personal style over the top?

I hope they get well soon

Last impulsive buy?

Fenty Block-T glasses

Your most prized item of clothing or accessory?

I wear my pride and that has no price tag

Describe the Ali Xeeshan bride?

Royalty meets cool

Where do you hope to see your brand in the next few years?

Operating from all fashion capitals of the world

Fans worldwide enjoy Spanish DJ and producer Danny Avila’s music. Cited as the ‘one to watch’ by Billboard magazine and MTV, he gives Haider Rifaat a glimpse into his music life

Tell us about your new song and its theme.

My most recent release Thinking About You is the first track from my new label NUMB3R5. I wanted to release it on my birthday because I’m able to express myself openly with this song. It encapsulates the sound I’ve been working on for the past two years.

Describe your DJ-ing style.

Good vibes. I just adore electronic music and am open to different genres. I suppose you can understand my style better after listening to my tracks and DJ sets.

When did you first connect with music?

As a teenager. I was obsessed and it wasn’t an option for me to not work in music. It’s all I ever wanted to do. The day I learnt how to produce, I didn’t want to stop.

You recently performed in Pakistan. How was the experience?

I had such a great time. Thanks so much to the crowd for being energetic. They seemed to have had as much fun as I did.

How are you managing such a tiresome touring schedule?

It takes getting used to, but I love it so much. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I enjoy meeting new people and seeing beautiful places. It’s a blessing.

“Tiësto is one of the greatest people in the music fraternity for sure. I have immense respect for him”

How do you keep up with your fast-paced life as a DJ?

By producing music that I want to listen to. Besides, I find some way to make my hectic routine fun. It may sound strange but it is true.

What does your music collection consist of ?

It comprises of tracks that I would want to hear on a night out or at the gym. I enjoy energetic music that relaxes me and makes me feel good about myself.

What key components do you consider while producing music ?

The details and sound of music on speakers. It’s good to keep that in mind.

What essential elements should a song have for it to be a masterpiece ?

A massive hook.

Which remixes do you usually play for a mass audience ?

It depends what kind of music I’m into that week.

What’s your go-to jam ?

I’m constantly playing my track Too Good to Be True with Machine Gun Kelly and The Vamps.

What was it like working with music legend Tiësto ?  

As epic as I’d expected it to be. He is a real mentor. Tiësto is one of the greatest people in the music fraternity for sure. I have immense respect for him.

An artist you want to team up with in the future ?

There are many artists I’d love to work with, such as Post Malone. He is impressive.

What’s keeping you busy these days ?

Everything – I love to be busy. If I’m not on tour, I prefer working out or writing my new tune.

Is there an album in the pipeline ?

I’ll let you know if there is, but not at the moment. Right now, my prime focus is single releases in the club and commercial world with Sony Music.

Which performance of yours has been the most memorable ?  

There are plenty; Tomorrowland, Airbeat One and Untold Festival. It feels great to perform for massive crowds.

Do you feel any difference performing at home versus abroad ?

Definitely. I think every country I go to has a different vibe.

What distinguishes Spanish music from mainstream music ?

Spanish music is very mainstream nowadays. There is Latin hype everywhere and Bad Bunny is just one example of a good Spanish artist.

How do you unwind ?

I love to wakeboard. I wish I had more time for it.

What are your plans for this year ?

Music, music and more music. So much stuff is yet to come that I can’t wait to share with you all.




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