One of the highlights of the upcoming film Jalaibee is that, along with boasting a cast of young and fresh faces both in front of, and behind, the camera, it is being helmed by the versatile Yasir Jaswal. The young writer-director spoke to The Express Tribune about his soon-to-be released film and the amount of time and effort that was invested into making a film in a growing film industry like that of Pakistan.
“Jalaibee is a film about eight people and how their lives are intertwined after a sequence of events,” says Jaswal. “Two of the major characters in the film are Billu (Danish Taimoor) and Bugga (Ali Safina), friends who get entangled in a debt with the local mafia called The Unit,” he adds, specifying that a central theme of the film is greed and how it wields its sledgehammer on those involved.
Describing the movie as a “caper film,” he says that the teaser of the film, which was released a year ago, reminded people of Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino movies. “Many genres in Pakistan have not been explored before and one of them is that of caper films.”
He states, “Directors like Ritchie and Tarantino are kings of the caper genre, with movies such as Snatch and Pulp Fiction under their belts,” so he feels people can be excused if they notice that his film bears a resemblance with such films. But despite comparisons, he reiterates that the movie is entirely original, clarifying, “There are many artistes with similar ideas but what helps make artistes’ work stand out is how they grasp and project the subject under a different light.”
On the casting process of the film, he says is grateful to work with a talented group of actors. Defining his vision for the role of Bugga and how he only had Safina in mind for it, he says, “His energy just made him a perfect fit for the role.” He shares that many people had been approached for the role of Billu before Taimoor, but “his audition for the part blew everyone away.” Jaswal states that Taimoor’s performance in the film will be different from the kind of roles he usually portrays on television.
One person whose performance Jaswal reserved special praise for was that of Wiqar Ali Khan. Khan will be essaying the role of a British-Pakistani in the film. “While looking for people to play the part, we considered several international actors but decided on him because of his charm, charismatic personality and, above all, the slick vibe he emits. That made him perfect for the role.”
As to whether the film carries the quintessential item number, which is gradually becoming a staple in Pakistani films, Jaswal laughingly reveals, “There are two ‘performance songs’ in Jalaibee but no ‘item numbers’ as such.” Stating that he finds item numbers ‘derogatory’, he says, “None of the female characters in the film are showing any skin as I don’t like the idea of that.” He likens the role of Zhalay Sarhadi to that of Jessica Alba’s from Sin City, but clarifies that there is “absolutely no vulgarity in the film.”
Initially expected to release during the summer of 2014, Jalaibee will is now set to hit the cinemas in March this year. Explaining the reason for the delay, Jaswal says “The production team had run out of funds and the reason behind releasing the teaser was strategic. Wanting to get financers on board, we worked on the pre-production of the film quite extensively, which resulted in delay of the film’s release.”
Apart from writing and directing Jalaibee, Jaswal has taken up the role of a music director. He describes the soundtrack of the film as ‘extreme’ due to the diverse range of artistes featuring in it. His brothers Umair Jaswal and Uzair Jaswal along with artistes, such as Shizzio, Zohaib Kazi and underground band Lahu, have contributed to the film’s soundtrack.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2015.