‘Joyland’ made history today as the first Pakistani film to be screened at The Cannes Film Festival! Not only that, but the cast received a standing ovation from the audience for their stellar performance. ‘Joyland’ is a tale of sexual revolution. We observe a patriarchal joint family yearning for the birth of a boy to continue their lineage. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, their youngest son joins the theatre and falls in love with the ambitious transexual starlet. Directed by Saim Sadiq, the film stars Ali Junejo, Alina Khan, Rasti Farooq, Sarwat Gilani, Sohail Sameer, Salman Peerzada, and Sania Saeed – with cinematography by Joe Saade.
Amongst the hubbub, FUCHSIA got a hold of ‘Joyland’ actress Sarwat Gilani, who’s having the time of her life at Cannes, and finally asked her all the questions our readers have been dying to know! Read on to find out which celebrity she’s excited to meet at Cannes, the designers she’s wearing and what the future has in store for her career!
1) ‘Joyland’ is the first Pakistani feature film being screened at Cannes and you’re a part of it. How does it feel creating history?
It is an absolute honour to represent Pakistan on an international platform like Cannes. Pakistan has tremendous talent. It is about time that we are seen on international platforms, that accept and appreciate the kind of talent that Pakistan has. We were very excited when we got the call that our film has been nominated for Best International Film, in the category of Un Certain Regard. It is a huge honour to represent Pakistan when the whole world is watching. I think that we are making history.
This is a foot-in-the-door and we hope that more directors, producers and content producers find the path that we are making easily accessible. I hope this gives them the courage to make something and put it out there. It is only when you are fearless that things start rolling. If you are fearful that my work is not good enough, then it will never be good enough. And that is the amazing thing about Saim Sadiq. It’s that he puts himself out there. He’s okay with failure and success. He is telling the people what Pakistan is about, and what his team is about. I hope that more films are made for festivals like these. This is just the first step for all of us and I am so glad that we are part of it.
2) What designer will you be wearing at The Cannes Film Festival?
The designer I chose is Elan. They are known for their sophisticated and stunning designs. I wanted to wear something that is from Pakistan and Elan is a great representation of the craftsmanship we have in Pakistan. Elan has a global feel to its collections and I wanted a mix of that, yet staying true to our tradition. I chose a ‘tung pajama and kameez dupatta‘ for my red carpet look. I feel Elan has made a mark in the couture industry in Pakistan. It’s all about representing so I thought it would be best to choose something that is from Pakistan and has a global feel.
3) Tell us what you & the Pakistani audience are looking forward to at Cannes?
The Pakistani audience is definitely looking forward to what we are wearing! For us, it will be the reaction that people have to our work and the recognition that we are getting from this piece of art that we have all made. I think people like Sarmad, Saim and Sana Jafri are the artists that are present here. When these kinds of people get together then obviously there is magic! I hope that people in Pakistan also get to see the kind of magic that we are taking to Cannes and appreciate our craft. And that we don’t have to wait for international approval, and that we are able to recognise and appreciate our own talent within Pakistan.
4) Who are you looking forward to meeting at The Cannes Film Festival?
I am looking forward to meeting some amazing actors, directors and producers who can see our work and what we represent over there. As a Pakistani, I would love to meet people who are interested in and curious about Pakistani talent because we have plenty of it. There are lots of actors going. Tom Cruise is there, Deepika Padukone and all the international stars are there. But we are not really sure who we will meet. But yes, the hope is that we will meet people who are promising, and people who would like to collaborate with Pakistani talent.
5) Do you feel that the opening up of OTT platforms and artsy/noncommercial ventures are a Godsend? Will it elongate the life cycle of the Pakistani actor? How has it affected your career choices?
I feel that the life cycle of an actor does not depend on the platform but depends on the craft of the actor. If the craft is not good, it will not be recognized locally or globally. It does help when international projects do come in. Unfortunately, that is the only time when Pakistanis recognize you and are reminded that you have a great talent because somebody else is appreciating your talent. I have been very picky about my projects. It has affected my career, in all good sense. I used to do one play a year for Pakistani television. Now I do one OTT series a year. It has helped me in making people recognise my craft and my talent. It has given me the opportunity to step beyond my comfort zone and do more to surprise people with my craft.
6) Will we see you on local channels anytime soon, any projects in the pipeline?
I’ve not done local television in about 6 years and I believe I have outgrown the kind of narrative that Pakistani television has to offer. I am beyond saas-bahu-jaith affairs. I am about women empowerment. I’m about much more artsy kinds of projects which are more my cup of tea. It was always my cup of tea but it was unfortunate that our narratives and our storylines were very, very typical. I think I cannot go back to television unless something very revolutionary is made and they require me and that character is written for me. Then I would like to think about it, but I think in my 20-year career in Pakistan, I have done more or less everything and now I want to expand my career and my horizons.
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