This Eid brings a touch of home to Pakistani expatriates, with the UAE release of the Pakistani romance Bin Roye (Without Tears).
The team behind the project landed in Dubai the day before its July 16 release for a press conference at Castello’s café in Jumeirah and a red carpet premiere hosted at Vox Cinemas, Bur Juman – both organised by Essar Events.
The director/producer Momina Duraid, and actors Humayun Saeed, Mahira Khan, Javed Sheikh and Armeena Rana Khan, walked the red carpet and interacted with fans and media at Vox Cinemas, where the film was shown in three cinemas simultaneously.
“For me the film is all about emotions and the fact that any emotion, especially love, is not simple,” says Duraid. “This film explores the different dimensions of love, and how love and hate can go side by side. It’s the journey of a couple who, from the first minute of the film to the end, find out what true love is. It’s a very realistic depiction and people are going to relate to it.”
Duraid, the chief executive of Moomal Productions, an arm of HUM TV, the film's production house, is a celebrated TV producer with numerous hit TV serials to her credit. Bin Roye marks her film direction debut – a project on which, she explains, casting was key.
“I’m the kind of person who really needs her comfort zone,” says Duraid. “So for my first film, I picked people who I was extremely close to and who were also brilliant actors.”
In leading roles are the actor/producer, Saeed, and the TV actress Khan, best known for her role in the 2011 TV serial Humsafar, and recently having signed on to star in Raees, her first Bollywood film alongside Shah Rukh Khan.
“Our dramas have always been watched and loved a lot, be it in India or Pakistan,” says Saeed. “The genre of this film is ‘drama’ too, which is our strength. The dedication with which Momina has made this film, and the kind of storyline it has, I’m sure people will find it very different and very appealing.”
Saeed, who is a filmmaker himself, says that the project brought him closer to his colleagues.
"Momina and I have always had mutual respect for each other as filmmakers," he says. "I feel that ever since she started directing me in this film, we've become even closer. The director/actor bond brings you so much closer. Same with Mahira. She's an amazing woman and actress. She has no hang-ups, no airs and graces. I worked with her on her first serial, Niyyat, in 2011, and since then, she's improved immensely. There're several scenes she's done in this film, that I can safely say, will be the best work of her life.
Khan says that by the end of the film she and Saeed had become their characters. “We just knew how they’d react in a certain situation,” she says.
“My character in this film is intense, it’s complex, and is the most difficult character I’ve ever played. It’s difficult to pin her down or put her on paper, because nothing about her is easy to show. As much as it was interesting, it was very difficult. And because it took so long to make, it stayed with me. Today’s the first day I am so relaxed, because I am like, OK, she’s leaving me now.”
The film's Eid premiere coincides with another major Bollywood release, the Salman Khan-starrer Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
“For me competition has a totally a different meaning,” says Duraid. “Yes, it’s competing with different releases. But, just like when I first heard this film’s story, and it touched my heart so much that I laughed and I cried with it, I’m sure it will do the same for the audience. It has a very high emotional quotient, and I believe it can the touch hearts of the people. Because, after all, the story is all about emotions, and so are we.”
With Pakistan having just started taking its films abroad again, after an economically and politically difficult fallow period, just having an international release could be considered an achievement.
“There’s no question of competition,” says Saeed. “We just want people to come to watch our film and tell us how they liked it.”
Khan cautions against big expectations for the film.
“I think everyone should really look at this as a small labour of love, because that’s what it is,” she says. “As all films do, I am sure this one has its flaws, but I just hope that there are scenes that touch the audience. I hope they can see that we’ve worked hard.”
The veteran actor Sheikh, who appears in the film as the father of the female lead, echoes Khan in underscoring what the release means for his country’s film industry.
“There are very few films made in Pakistan where a story is so strong, and this is the whole reason this film is being released internationally,” he says.
“This gathering that we have here at the premiere today, is the first of many. We have a lot of films lined up and you’ll see us here – and everywhere else – a lot. This is the revival of Pakistani cinema.”