It's about time that we get to see a local series that highlights office humor in the Middle East. Inspired by The Office, both US and UK versions, Mish Mish is an original web series that attempts to take viewers through a typical day in the life of a talent agency in the Middle East. The series follows six characters from different nationalities as they battle each other on the search to find the next big star in the Arab world. Creator and director of Mish Mish, Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, has lived in Qatar since 2005 and has used her stand up comedy skills and daily observations to entertain audiences and we can't wait to see what she's up to when it comes to Mish Mish. We caught up with Moha and were really curious to find out more about her ambitious project.
What would you say inspired Mish Mish?
Mish Mish was inspired by a group of under fortysomethings, living and working Doha, Qatar. We are from a variety of nationalities: Indian, American, Egyptian, and Qatari – and that’s including the production crew. Many of us love commercial television and the shorter sitcom twenty minute format: shows like Modern Family or even the US and UK Office franchise. The daily ironies, dilemmas, and eccentricities resonated with us as viewers and people living in a dynamic, modernizing place (Doha). But there’s nothing out there that shows the world what life is like where we are.
Being a collective of creatives, from writers (me) to actors (some of the cast) to video making (some student interns), we decided we would try to fictionalize a representation of life as we knew in the multinational workplace in Qatar.
What do you wish to accomplish with this series?
We want to show that grassroots creativity can come from within the Middle East. That expats and Arabs of diverse origins can have healthy, enjoyable friendships. Share the things that make us laugh in order to bring humor and levity into the lives of others.
How does it feel like to write a script and then help in filming it?
Script writing is a very iterative process – you have to be willing to change it, revise, share; then change it all over again. By the time we got to our first set of auditions, the pilot episode had been reworked at least ten times for flow, dialogue, character development, laughs: everything.
You can’t have an ego if you are a writer (well until you get famous maybe) because it doesn’t serve whatever story you are telling. You have to be open to multiple perspectives of feedback: from a prospective audience member, to the actors, to the production team. This is also part of our collective approach towards the development of the series.
Of course, in the end, the director is in charge!
What are the difficulties you faced throughout this experience?
Building awareness about the project is always difficult as often in the region people want a big name or backer to believe in anything or get excited about it. Hopefully with the changing political climate, this will also soon be reflected in the arts.
The grass roots way of doing things isn’t for the faint of heart anywhere but particularly the Middle East where everyone wants to have things explicitly explained if you are a newcomer on the scene.
What are your plans for the future after completing this series?
Right now the eye is raising enough money through Kickstarter to film the pilot. The longer term goal would then to be produce 8-10 episodes. That should keep us busy for at least 2012!
It would be great to share our knowledge and help others do similar work either in television or even traditional forms of writing like novels.
To find out more about the project and how to help fund it, visit their Kickstarter page here
– Fajer Al-Farsi