‘Jamun Ka Darakht’ is an upcoming short film starring Adnan Siddiqui, Maha Tahirani, Zara Usman, Saman Ansari, Irfan Motiwala and Fouzia Aman. The film hopes to tackle tough topics such as consent and power dynamics between two people, with the entertainment industry as its backdrop.
The film is directed by ‘Thora Jee Le’ director Rafay Rashdi, who is also known for producing shows like ‘Badshah Begum.’ The script and dialogues are penned by esteemed writer Bee Gul, who is best known for her work on the anthology series ‘Kitni Girhain Baaki Hain.’
Director Rafay Rashdi, producer Faisal Kapadia and executive producer Syed Murad Ali exclusively spoke to Galaxy Lollywood regarding the film.
A release date is yet to be announced but till then, here’s the insight we got for this project.
The Symbolic Title
Writer Bee Gul is known for her incredible writing and searing commentary which often employs symbolism as a tool to enrich her storytelling. So, naturally, people were most curious about the metaphoric title of this film and what the title ‘Jamun Ka Darakth’ was referring to.
Rafay Rashdi elaborated on this by saying “The title was written by Bee Gul. Jamun, the fruit, and its pulp can leave stains on clothes that are not easy to remove. Therefore, the profound metaphor addresses stains on oneself that can never be eradicated.”
When asked about the collaborative process with Bee Gul, Rafay said that it was a lifelong goal of his to work with the writer. “It has been a lifelong professional goal to collaborate with Bee Gul. Aside from her exceptional writing skills, she understands the boundaries of themes that can truthfully expose human nature as it is. I must mention that I waited in a queue, considering her limited availability, and I am humbled that she took the time to write this for me.”
He also shared how he approached Gul with the idea saying, “I had an idea revolving around the concepts of consent and gender wars that I wanted to explore in a raw and gritty script, shedding light on ground realities without taking a biased stance.”
Offering more insight into this collaboration, Rafay added, “Our discussions primarily focused on the choices individuals have before engaging consensually… drawing on her extensive experience in screenplay writing and themes which explore consensuality and the misuse of power dynamics, Bee Gul added valuable elements and background to the script.”
When asked about the casting of Adnan Siddiqui, Rafay said, “Collaborating with him was a spectacular experience. Credit goes to Faisal for the brilliant decision to bring him on board, as we needed an experienced actor for the role, and no one could have portrayed it better than Adnan.”
He went on to give us more insight into Adnan’s character, saying, “His character involves shades of grey, portraying a powerful, charismatic, charming, & dapper fashion mogul. Enigmatic and committed to the notion of what he considers justice through his unique methods.|
The director also shared how the casting process was a challenge. He revealed, “We implemented a rigorous audition process to ensure we had the perfect cast,” which also entailed daily discussions with Bee Gul, which he said was “instrumental in making casting decisions”.
We then asked Rafay about the casting of the Best Fashion Model of the Year winner at the 22nd Lux Style Awards, Maha Tahirani. He shared, “Several names were considered and consulted, but none seemed to fit the role perfectly. Some individuals were uncomfortable for personal reasons. It wasn’t until we realised that the role required someone from the fashion industry that I met Maha.
“After she read the script and underwent an audition, she expressed confidence in portraying the character as depicted and I needed that as a director. That alignment with the script’s vision was crucial for me.”
He further added, “I have to say she performed the role with aplomb and was a pleasure to work with.”
He went on to thank and praise his cast Maha Tahirani, Saman Ansari, Zara Usman, Irfan Motiwala, Fouzia Aman, Ahad Touqeer, Yogeshwar Karera, Ramesha Nawal and Nousheen Sheikh. “I have nothing but respect for the actors who accepted and became a part of ‘Jamun Ka Darakht’, revealing, “They were all selected on exceptional audition merits fit for their characters.”
The conversations surrounding consent, sexual harassment and court cases based on such issues are very timely. When asked if there are any real-life inspirations for this story, Rafay had this to say.
“Certainly, and not quite. Don’t we witness daily debates on gender issues concerning consent and choices? Has there been a definitive answer as to who is right or wrong? No. Therefore, we crafted a subject for which we have left the verdict to be decided by the audience.”
When we asked executive producer, Syed Murad Ali about his decision to come on board as an executive producer, he shared, “Rafay and I share a longstanding personal connection. I’ve been eager to enter the film industry, and the right elements – script, director, production – are crucial. Combined by Rafay’s extensive filmmaking experience and an impressive script by Bee Gul, aligning with our goal to go beyond the local market.”
He further went on to say that this film is intended to go to international film festivals. The focus is to showcase “Pakistani talent and thought-provoking themes.” He also teased the horror feature ‘Deemak’ as another project in production.
Producer Faisal Kapadia shared why they made the decision to make it a short film and not a full-length feature, saying “When I first met Rafay on this film’s subject we both were of the same opinion that this must be made in the strongest possible way to provide maximum impact on the subject and for me that medium was short film instead of feature and the result will ensure the merit of this selection.”
‘Jamun Ka Darakht’ is sure to offer incredible commentary and insight into the psyche of both the victims and victimizers in issues of consent and sexual harassment. No matter which side you stand on, everyone has strong opinions on such topics. The film is certainly going to be a huge conversation starter whenever it’s released to the public.
The film is hoping to go to major international film festivals, but a release date is yet to be announced. Stay tuned to Galaxy Lollywood for further coverage until then.