Pakistani-Canadian actor Juggun Kazim is starring in upcoming Punjabi comedy film Shot Cut alongside Gohar Rasheed and she spoke to Images about how the filming experience has been very fulfilling. It doesn't matter to her whether the film is a hit or a flop, she's grateful for the journey that did away with her fear of doing films.
The Khamosh Raho actor shared details about her casting. "I was approached for this film by Abu Aleeha and the film's producer Javed [Ahmed Kakepoto] sahab, and my first question, of course, was about who's going to be in the cast with me," she said. "When they told me that I would be opposite Gohar Rasheed, I was quite happy because Gohar is a phenomenal actor and I think that working with him sort of elevates me as well."
Kazim said her experience working with the entire cast was a very positive one. "Everyone was awesome to work with and it felt like we're working together as a family. It didn't feel like it was work."
She got candid and revealed why she'd taken a break from signing on films. "I haven't done a movie in a very long time because I had a very bad film experience after which I didn't want to do anything where people would start writing negative things about me. I try to [maintain] my image so it's not weirdly distorted and [don't want] people disrespecting me, saying fazool [useless] things about me.
"So with fear and great nervousness, I signed on the movie but Abu Aleeha is a really amazing person to work with, he's less of a director and more like a family member. We call him Ali bhai with love, he's like an understanding, sensitive big brother on set and he's very passionate about his work."
The Pani Jaisa Piyar actor explained why they produced the film on a small budget. "Pakistani cinema at the moment does not have the margin to produce films for [Rs150 million to Rs200 million] because when you make such expensive films, where will the return come from? The number of people who go watch them can only be as high as the number of existing cinemas."
She added that they created a light, fun Punjabi comedy film in an effort to revive Punjabi cinema in Pakistan.
Kazim talked about her character, mentioning that though she's Punjabi, she struggled with the Punjabi dialogues and had a lot of help. "I gained weight for this as well to develop my look a little on the chubby side as you will see [in the film]. And I really worked on this character because I actually don't know how to speak Punjabi so Naseem Vicky really guided me, Gohar also used to prod me through it and my makeup artist Khurram used to help me out, Mahlaqa [Mansoor] as well. It was a group effort — it wasn't that I was working on my character and the others were working on theirs, all of us were working together, with consultation."
"I pray that everyone likes this film, we've produced a family comedy film that everyone in Pakistan can come watch, not just Punjabis. We will also release it internationally," she added.
The actor said her filming experience has superseded the need for great results. "Though I hope that people come to watch the film, whether it is a flop or a hit, I have gained some amazing friends through this process so I am very grateful. I feel like I got all the benefit I had to from the film already.
"Now if it's a hit, that'd be great news too but working with such great people and the credit for expelling the fear of doing films goes to Abu Aleeha, my manager Mahlaqa and Murad Kazmi because he said, 'You should at least do it — worst case scenario, it won't work out. At least it's nothing worrisome or hasn't got anything vile like an item number so you don't need to worry.' I had a lovely time and I hope the movie is a great success," she said.
When we asked Rasheed for his input, he said, "I remain silent because there are some internal issues, very serious in nature, regarding this film because of which I can't issue any comments right now."
In an exclusive conversation with Images in January, Aleeha announced details of Shot Cut, his first Punjabi comedy. He said he pursued a situational comedy after a line of thrillers and horrors because he felt that it is the need of the time.
Starring Rasheed, Kazim, Fakhar, Vicky, Hasan, Marhoom Ahmed Bilal, Honey Albela, Alia Khan, Anjum, Nawaz and Balbir Singh, the film is about two people in love, who are also low-tier theatre actors who’ve never gotten the spotlight. It sees them resuming their lives after a 20-year gap, from the age of cheap theatre to a time where social media reigns supreme.
“You can say that they were in a sort of coma,” the director explained. “However, don’t expect any deep-rooted message from this film. It would be most gracious of you if you can deduce one, and I’d like to thank you for it, but the film is a mindless romp.”
Shot Cut is set to release on Eidul Azha this year.