From left: Director Nadeem Baig and Pakistani film stars Mehwish Hayat, Humayun Saeed and Ahmed Ali Butt during a press conference in Dubai yesterday to promote their latest film ‘Punjab Nahin Jaungi’ (I will not go to Punjab), which releases on Eid Al Adha in the UAE. The film, a love triangle, is set in Pakistani Punjab, is about a city-dwelling daughter who refuses to head to Punjab and marry a village bumpkin. Image Credit: A.K Kallouche/Gulf News

Pakistani film stars Humayun Saeed, Mehwish Hayat and Ahmed Ali Butt and Director Nadeem Baig spoke about their upcoming film, Punjab Nahi Jaaungi, and the evolution of Pakistani cinema at a press conference in Dubai on Thursday, ahead of the movie’s release this Eid Al Adha.

With the film set to be Pakistani cinema’s biggest worldwide release — to be screened across 150 cinemas — the actors and directors have been busy promoting Punjab Nahi Jaungi across the UK and US.

The press conference started with a trailer of the film, followed by a Q&A session.

Baig spoke about the changing landscape of Pakistani cinema. “You’re getting to see films with all types of stories,” he said. “In Pakistan, it’s a period where people are trying to come up with different sorts of films, which is great.”

He said he thought Pakistani film audiences are “maturing”, saying: “People enjoy all sorts of films despite its genre. Whether it’s an issue-based film like Bol or a [romantic drama] like Bin Roye. I think if it’s a good film, people will like it.”

Baig said the team made a deliberate move towards Punjab Nahi Jaaungi fitting into the romantic genre so as to keep it commercial and to attract larger audiences. “That’s one of the reasons why we got on this type of script,” he said.

The film is a love triangle set in Pakistani Punjab, and tells the story of a city-dwelling daughter who refuses to head to Punjab and marry a village bumpkin.

Bollywood break-up

Lead actor Saeed, who’s also the producer of the film, also spoke on the ban of Pakistani actors from Bollywood and other Indian cinema hubs, saying it was a practice that he thought shouldn’t be happening. “It’s because of a few people. In the last 10-15 years, I’ve casted many Indian actors in my TV productions, while films have been developing only since the last four-five years.

“As far as I remember, the choreographer of our film, Shabina, too has links from India.

“From what I’ve seen, actors in India are afraid of the political situation; they think if they go to Pakistan to pursue acting, it may be wrongful to their home. Whereas actors in Pakistan aren’t afraid because their intention is more towards Bollywood.”

Lead actress Hayat joined the press conference later, apologising for her busy schedule — she’d just arrived from a 30-day music tour in the US. The director and the film’s lead cast then continued a casual conversation with the press, talking about their impressions from the look of the trailer.

Punjab Nahi Jaungi is a romance based on a young couple’s relationship in the face of their families’ friendship that has endured over generations. They challenge and obstacles of love and family form the crux of the plot.

The movie releases on August 31.

— Viraj Asher is an intern at Gulf News.