Beautifully told story of soul crushing patriarchy and LGBT phobia in Lahore-Entertainment News, Firstpost

Starring: Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gilani, Salmaan Peerzada, Sohail Sameer, Sania Saeed

Director: Saim Sadiq

Language: Urdu

In the first moments of Saim Sadiq joyland, Haider (Ali Junejo) plays with his three nieces who warn him that their brother will save them from his teasing. The boy, we soon learn, is not yet born. Their heavily pregnant mother Nucchi’s water breaks seconds later, and she calmly instructs everyone present on what to do during she leaves to give birth.

Minutes later, Nucchi (Sarwat Gilani) is in tears in a hospital, while her husband Saleem (Sohail Sameer) asks a staff member how they had another daughter. although the ultrasound indicated a son. He tries to console her. These little girls ultimately do not have a male brother.

Whether joyland was not so widely known at present, it would be easy to confuse it with Indian. The languages ​​spoken by the characters, fused with the Rana family’s desperation for a son and the soul-crushing patriarchy and LGBTphobia that permeate their lives, render them indistinguishable from the socio-political reality of India. The setting, however, is Lahore, the cast and film are Pakistanialthough he has an important connection to India: American producer Apoorva Guru Charan, born in India.


joyland has been the toast of festivals since its world premiere at Cannes 2022, where it won two awards. This is Pakistan’s entry for the 2023 Oscars. joyland has its premiere in India this weekend. In these times of division, it is worth reflecting on the many commonalities between our two countries – our failures included – as evidenced by this wonderfully sensitive chronicle of friendship and love, desire and loneliness, sexuality , desire, imposed gender roles and everyday life. behind which prejudices, repression and oppression thrive.

joylandintro scenes combine lightness, melancholic intensity and many details with a fluidity that marks the style of writer-director Saim Sadiq (Maggie Briggs is credited as co-writer). There’s so much in the movie, but it’s never too crowded. By the end of the first 8 minutes, we already know that Haider has an easy relationship with his sister-in-law and has the unwavering support of his wife and good friend, Mumtaz (Rasti Farooq); the latter recognizes that he is a gentle soul who is repelled by the demands made on him by his father (Salman Peerzada) to prove his masculinity; the father is a joyless, ultimately self-destructive man who leads his clan from his wheelchair. Before all of this is revealed, there’s the unfazed Nucchi who remains in command of the situation when work beckons – a testament not only to its imposing strength, but also to the routine of pain in women’s lives and the composure with which we tend to plan it, for multiple reasons, including the fact that it is expected and that we have no choice anyway.

Joyland Movie Review A beautifully told story of soul crushing patriarchy and LGBT phobia in Lahore


In Nucchi, we see the coexistence of progressive values ​​and narrow-mindedness within the same individual – an amalgam that echoes the warm eqrelationship between her and Saleem, who wants a male heir but doesn’t blame her for not “giving him one”.

The Ranas are just another crazy son, conservative, lower middle class pakistani household until haider falls in love with transgender dancer Biba (Alina Khan) when hired by a dance troupe. He is unemployed at the start of the film and willingly shares household chores with Nucchi. Her new work shakes up her world and Mumtaz’s existence in more ways than one.

For Indian viewers, joyland is a perfect illustration of how the same scene can have a very different meaning when the context in which a story is told changes. India’s most prominent film industry, the Hindi aka Bollywood industry, has produced a steady trickle of films over the past eight years that have acted as purveyors of Islamophobia. The slaughter of animals and the consumption of meat have been used in some of them to perpetuate a stereotype of Muslims – a minority in India – as a bloodthirsty and violent people (for the record, contrary to propaganda, a majority of ‘Indians of all faiths, including Hindus, are meat eaters). In joyland however, a film from Muslim-dominated Pakistan, a scene involving the killing of a goat is deployed to indict patriarchy. It is not a judgment passed by majority forces against a minority group; it is a call for introspection within the majority community itself.

Joyland Movie Review A beautifully told story of soul crushing patriarchy and LGBT phobia in Lahore


The extreme maturity with which Saim manages the delicate social issues and its measured tone belie the truth that Joeland is his first feature film as a director. Unlike the cacophony of tyranny and persecution that accompanies Haider, Mumtaz and Biba’s journey, the film – co-edited by Jasmin Tenucci and Saim – unfolds like a moving symphony. Rarely is a conversation or a moment wasted in the meticulously structured narrative.

Among the many things to love about this film is its view of Biba as an individual whose gender identity is crucial but does not uniquely and entirely define her. Equally important is his refusal to cover up the failures of Haider and Nucchi or vilify them. He is constantly afraid and we understand why. He speaks for no one, including himself. He is selfish with Mumtaz and with Biba who has remarkable clarity about what she wants for herself. Mumtaz becomes an innocent victim of his late awakening to a homophobic and patriarchal society that shackles them both. Thanks to Nucchi we also sSee the complexity of female bonds in a male-dominated society where one woman acting in self-defense can harm another, because defending that other woman requires a will and/or a vision she may not possess. .

Joyland Movie Review A beautifully told story of soul crushing patriarchy and LGBT phobia in Lahore


Like Haider, Mumtaz crumbles. Nucchi is also under pressure. Yet some of Joyland’s the happiest scenes – including one at an amusement park from which the film takes its name – involve these two women. South Asian filmmakers from dominant social groups rarely understand this: that the oppressed don’t always cry, that the marginalized find ways to smile.

Joyland Movie Review A beautifully told story of soul crushing patriarchy and LGBT phobia in Lahore


joyland is full of internalized turbulence, social ideas and the full spectrum of human emotions, but Saim, Jasmin and cinematographer Joe Saade also fill it with poetry and quiet moments. The film’s rich mosaic of emotions is brought to life through a striking use of light, shadow and dark, from the dark rooms of the Rana household to a beauty salon and later a fully lit dance performance. by cell phones, and the burst of light when the camera captures a humbling visual of the sea.

The actors are uniformly brilliant. The choice of Alina Khan, a transgender actress, is unusual in the subcontinent. Here in India, for example, the 2018 Malayalam film Aabhaasam, the year-old Bhima Jewelery commercial and 2022’s Gargi (Tamil) are rare examples of trans artists playing trans characters. The vulnerability and starry airs Alina brings to Biba, along with Ali Junejo and Rasti Farooq’s nuanced portrayal of fragility complement Joyland’s excellence in every way.

Rating: 4.75 (out of 5 stars)

Joyland has its India premiere at the Dharamshala International Film Festival. It will be released in theaters in Pakistan on November 18, 2022.

Anna MM Vetticad is an award-winning journalist and author of The Adventures of an Intrepid Film Critic. She specializes in the intersection of cinema with feminist concerns and other sociopolitical concerns. Twitter: @annavetticad, Instagram: @annammvetticad, Facebook: AnnaMMVetticadOfficial

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