Jalaibee will be pure entertainment, director promises
Yasir Jaswal is one director who is keen on changing cinema in Pakistan with his upcoming film Jalaibee, a movie that he promises is "pure entertainment" and nothing more.
Jalaibee's cast includes Ali Safina, Danish Taimoor, Uzair Jaswal, Wiqar Ali khan and Zhalay Sarhadi.
In an email interview with Dawn.com, Yasir talks about his upcoming film, its story and promotion and how it would be different from films like Waar and Zinda Bhaag.
What does the title Jalaibee (literally: the name of a local dessert) signify about the film?
Yasir Jaswal: I have called it Jalaibee because the story and all of its characters are twisted and tangled in a single timeline.
From the trailer, Jalaibee seems to have a unique storyline. What is the plot actually about?
YJ: I don’t know how much to say at this point, but let’s just say that the story is a caper, which does not revolve around people but rather some events that unfold as it progresses. It’s a fun, twisted story set in an alternate world which is mostly fiction. It neither has any message nor does it address any social issue. It’s pure entertainment.
What were some of the biggest obstacles you faced while making this film?
YJ: There were a lot of obstacles, so many that it would take days and I’d still keep going on, but that’s the part and parcel of this industry and mentioning them wouldn’t do much. We were making a film for the first time and there is always a learning cost. We crossed our hurdles and I believe that these very hurdles make the journey interesting and memorable.
The film also has bits of animation. Given that this is your first film, why did you feel the need to include animation in Jalaibee?
YJ: Yes, a small part of the film is animation. Including it in the film was important because stylistically, we thought it would be a good medium to blend in with the genre.
Who has worked on the animation and how was the overall experience working with digital mixed media?
YJ: Currently we’re working with two different people who are looking after the digital media. All the illustrations and artwork is being done by Babrus Khan who is an amazing artist based in Lahore. The other is a company based in London who is also taking care of the VFX of the film.
Do you think Pakistan needs animated films at this point in time?
YJ: I just think Pakistan needs films, animated or otherwise. The audience needs some good quality entertainment.
How was your experience filming Jalaibee and where has it been shot?
YJ: The film was shot in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. The experience was overwhelming because I was working with people from all kinds of backgrounds and experience. The journey was educational and was surely a roller coaster ride.
When is the film releasing?
YJ: Well we’re looking at a new year release, but let’s see. You never know about these things. I don’t want to commit a date. All I can say is that we have wrapped up shooting and are now in the post production phase, so you won’t have to wait much longer.
Promotion of a film holds the key to its success. How (and when) do you plan to promote the film?
YJ: We will be starting our promotions very soon. You’ll be seeing a lot of us online and on television. If all goes as planned, inshallah we will be promoting the film on ground as well. It’s always fun to interact with the audiences and take their point of view. Plus, our Jalaibee mascot, the 73 Ford Mustang, would be visiting the major cities as well.
In the last six years we have seen that our movies either focus on social or armament issues. Do you think Jalaibee will be something novel?
YJ: Yes, Jalaibee will be the first of its kind in this industry. How many (films) follow this path, will determine the success of Jalaibee.
In what ways will Jalaibee be any different from the films we have seen recently, like Waar and Zinda Bhaag?
YJ: Well, one thing is for certain that it’s not on any social issue. I think other people are doing that and by now the audience is ready for some entertainment.
I also believe that all films are different in their own way. Even if the stories are similar, it is the way you tell the story that gives a unique and intriguing angle to it.
Will Jalaibee convey any message? Is it preachy?
YJ: The only message will be to buy more popcorn next time you watch it. Popcorns go well with fun movies.
Item numbers seem to be the big thing in films now. Does Jalaibee have an item song?
YJ: Jalaibee has a lot of songs. I come from a musical background and I believe music to be the best medium to show progression in a movie. You won’t see anyone singing and dancing to them though as they’re being used as background songs. Except one, which is a performance song. I don’t know if we should label it an item song because honestly, I don’t really know what that term means.
Nevertheless, a lot of very talented people have been working on the music and we will be releasing it very soon.
The cast of Jalaibee is distinctive in its own way. You have TV/theatre actors, a host and even a singer. How was your experience working with people with diverse abilities?
YJ: We were blessed with the casting choices we made in this film. Each and every actor in this film was equally (or even more) passionate about films as we were.
They were super supportive and professional during the whole shoot. Every day on the set was a fun experience, full of laughter. It was as if a bunch of friends from high school had gathered to make a film.
We shot in extreme conditions in far off locations, but it was always fun as long as all of us were together. We have made some amazing friends and memories in this journey.
Finally, how do you, as an upcoming director, envision Pakistan's film industry and our talents in the next couple of years?
YJ: I think finally the day has come where we can say that yes, our film industry is on its way to rebuild itself. We have some amazing people, who are passionate about filmmaking and cinema, joining the field.
People are not scared anymore to share their stories or experiment with storytelling. I think we have all it takes to make good films. The only thing we need to be careful about is the message we’re giving out.
People have started saying no to bad cinema, which is a great thing. Our films have started bringing back our pride in this industry and I am sure that it won’t be long until they bring home some Oscars.