The position of dancing, specifically the item song variety of dancing, in a Pakistani film has been heavily questioned and debated both on social media and national television this year. And while a section of the audience went all out arguing about whether or not dancing is a part of Pakistani culture that deserves a space on the Pakistani silver screen, one Pakistani filmmaker won international accolades for a short-film based on the mujra world of Lahore.
Darling, a short-film written and directed by Saim Sadiq, which is a love story between a transgender woman and a young boy against the backdrop of the thriving but un-talked about mujra culture of Pakistan, recently won the award for The Best Short-Film at the prestigious Venice Film Festival. GalaxyLollywood got in touch with the man of the hour Saim Sadiq himself and asked him a few questions about this proud achievement.
How does it feel to win this award?
It feels amazing. I think it is still sinking in, it hasn’t sunk in completely at all. Because I was in Venice for barely two days, then went to New York for one day to get my visa for Canada, and them I am here for the past two days. So, a lot has been happening. It feels really nice and humbling actually but it hasn’t really sunk it completely yet.
Were you expecting to win this?
Absolutely not. I did not even want to apply because I thought we won’t get it. But my producer was keen on applying. I said, “Don’t waste your money and apply to this festival. It is too high up and we are not going to get it.” So yeah, that was the thought process for us. But then we found out like two hours before the ceremony that we were going to win it. The management had called us because they wanted to check with us to make sure we were coming, telling us to dress appropriately and that you’ll have to give a little speech so prepare a bit for it. There was barely any time to do anything because it was just a couple of hours before the ceremony.
We were struggling to get tickets to go to the ceremony before it as we were a team of six and we all wanted to attend. We thought we wouldn’t be able to go as none of the short films were getting more than two tickets but then we did end up getting all the tickets and thought that maybe there’s a chance we’d be winning it.
What’s next for the film?
More festivals hopefully. We are in Toronto currently, and there are other festivals lined up. But since the festivals themselves haven’t announced yet so I can’t say anything final for myself. Hopefully, there’s going to be a US premiere soon. Then a festival in Canada, and then some more in Europe.
Any chance of a local screening?
Yes! I am most excited about screening Darling in Karachi and Lahore, and then as much as I can, I want to screen it across Pakistan. I am really excited to show this film to the local audience because it is a very local film. We still haven’t figured about the details yet but hopefully by the end of September and October we will screen it first in Karachi, I assume, and then in Lahore.
Lastly, what’s next for you?
There’s a feature film Gulaab which was the starting point for Darling as I had written the feature first. Darling is kind of based off of it. Gulaab has a different story, of course, but it has similar themes and settings. It is also partially based in the mujra world of Lahore, like Darling. So, that is happening.
We are just raising funds for it, getting the cast together, and all that stuff. It is a bit difficult to get such kind of film off the ground as it is not a very commercial film. That doesn’t mean it’s all sad and depressing but well, it’s not very mainstream commercial either.
Thankfully, Darling’s win at the Venice Film Festival has helped make things easier for Gulaab to get off the ground. For films like Gulaab to happen, wins like Darling really help a lot.