‘Two ends of the spectrum are about to collide’: Saim Sadiq on Joyland’s achievements and release in Pakistan

‘Two ends of the spectrum are about to collide’: Saim Sadiq on Joyland’s achievements and release in Pakistan

The film starring Ali Junejo, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gilani, Rasti Farooq and others will release on November 18.
08 Nov, 2022

Saim Sadiq’s film Joyland has become one of the most talked about movies on the roster of upcoming Pakistani films. It bagged the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard segment at the Cannes Film Festival, and is now Pakistan’s official submission to the Oscars. But for film director-writer Sadiq, he never really thought about Joyland achieving something for the country. His endeavour was “artistically driven”.

On Thursday, Sadiq appeared on Variety’s Streaming Room where he discussed Joyland’s Oscar submission, the film’s premiere in Pakistan and its genre.

He was asked about how he feels about representing Pakistan on a national level, to which he said, “I never really thought about that while making the film. That’s not [something] one tends to think about, you’re kind of too consumed by the story or the characters and your very personal need to tell that story and to have it out there. Especially as a first time filmmaker, I think it’s doubly true because you’re not really sure if you’ll actually make the film. So, just making the film in itself is kind of the goal, not any kind of reception or sort of representation of it on another level.”

Sadiq said it now feels great but initially, it “was a bit overwhelming” because when the news came out about Cannes, and the award in particular, it was “jarring” for him as he thought of how the film was going to be received back in Pakistan.

“It’s about to be released on November 18 in Pakistan so now it’s the two ends of the spectrum about to collide, hopefully for the better. It’s an added plus but I never really thought that the film should achieve something for the country. My endeavour was honestly very selfish and very artistically driven,” he said, referring to Joyland’s global achievements.

Film Joyland marks Sadiq’s feature-film debut. When asked about the genre, he hesitated to define it as “queer-cinema”.

“There was a film where there was a child who turns out to be a transgender, and it was a family drama, but it was a small part of the narrative. It was received with some controversy, but largely very well received. But again, it didn’t really take a queer cinema turn. It was very much a social issue, hot-button topic kind of cinema turn. It wasn’t really owning the queerness as far as the whole narrative is concerned and the ethos was not queer itself, I think, which is true for Joyland,” he explained.

According to Variety, the film is set in Lahore and narrates the story of the Ranas, a middle-class family with stringent and patriarchal family values. They are severed when the youngest son in the family, Haider, played by Ali Junejo, joins a dance theatre and falls for a transgender dancer named Biba, played by Alina Khan. It also stars Sarwat Gilani, Rasti Farooq, Sania Saeed, Sohail Sameer and Salmaan Peerzada.

Joyland will screen in theatres in Pakistan on November 18.


M. Saeed Nov 08, 2022 02:31pm
Let us see the if a real joy is there for us, Pakistanis in Joyland, or it is just another self ridicule, as usual?
Dr. Salaria Ahmed Pat II Nov 08, 2022 03:38pm
LGBTQ propaganda being shoved down. This is brilliant. It will help disintegrate the value system!
Agha Nov 08, 2022 04:02pm
@Dr. Salaria Ahmed Pat II nothing is being 'shoved down'. You are welcome to not see it, no one is forcing you. It is interesting that you are the kind of person who would support censoring this film and making the choice for other people i.e 'shoving down' your preferences on others and yet you are concerned about 'shoving down' what is totally up to you to see or not.
Mudakhan Nov 08, 2022 04:29pm
This was perhaps a brilliant idea commercially by Saim Sadiq to explore and present the most demanded and supported issue out in West. Two issues you address and get well supported and recognized 1) LGBTQ 2) Black community. When it comes to non west, it is swimming in very dangerous water, and can be very reactive personally. Simple saying, When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Has deep meanings
Ahmed Nov 08, 2022 05:34pm
@Agha we the people of Pakistan don't want it to be screened. It goes against our values and our constitution.
Ahmed Nov 08, 2022 05:35pm
What times that this mediocre movie has been given awards just because it supports LGBT
Ehsan Nov 08, 2022 07:39pm
Let me think outside the romcom box, let them create, that’s how the society flourishes.
Litmus Nov 08, 2022 11:48pm
So as usual people seem to have lots to say about the movie, wothout actually having seen the movie. How about instead of having a knee jerk reaction, folks watch it and then pass judgment on how it is or isn't propaganda and whether it "supports LGBT" or is against Pakistan's values. Speaking of, look around any major city or even villages. Khwaja sira are a reality of life in Pakistan and Pakistani society.
TenJee Nov 09, 2022 04:12am
@Agha Ah yes, the old "if you don't like it don't watch it" argument. The problem with that is that it allows even more objectionable content to flourish, as it creates an air of tolerance and room for desensitising. This is exactly how in Europe they ended up with the indecency even in kids TV shows. The mere fact that this film, with its particular themes has won such acclaim from the west is in itself an indicator of the bigger story behind this film. And yes, witnessing what is happening in Europe very much has the air things being "shoved down throats".
TenJee Nov 09, 2022 04:16am
@Ehsan and let those who object to such content, who feel strongly about wanting to live in a society that reflects and safeguards their religious and cultural values make strong objections, and protest about the creeping neo liberal colonialism being hoisted upon them.