Overview of the film
Joyland is a 2022 Pakistani Punjabi-language drama film. It is written and directed by Saim Sadiq in his debut as a feature film director. Joyland stars Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gilani, Salman Peerzada, and Sania Saeed in pivotal roles. The film centers on the extended patriarchal Ranas family in Lahore as they yearn for the birth of a boy. It was released in Pakistan on 18 November 2022.
The film had its world premiere at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival on 23 May 2022, where it competed for the Caméra d’Or. Joyland is the first ever Pakistani film to premiere at Cannes Film Festival and it received a standing ovation from the audience after its screening. The film won several accolades at the festival including the Jury Prize, and Queer Palm prize for the best LGBTQ theme movie. Joyland was also selected as the Pakistani entry for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards.
The film tells the story of a Lower-Middle class family based in Lahore in which a wheelchair-bound patriarch by the name of Rana Amanullah (Salman Peerzada) rules over his two sons (Sohail Sameer and Ali Junejo) and daughters-in-law (Sarwat Gilani and Rasti Farooq). Rana wants his children to give him a grandson. However, their life changes when Rana’s younger son, Haider, falls in love with Biba (Alina Khan), a transgender dancer, while working as a background dancer for her.
Direction and writing
In his directorial debut as a feature film director, Saim Sadiq has smartly crafted a family saga to observe how gender norms constrict and then suffocate individuals by depriving them of their freedom. Through his engaging script and screenplay, Sadiq navigates a complex web of secrets and lies, prejudices, and pressures for creating a soulful human drama intent on challenging narrow minds. As a director, Sadiq deserves wide praise, specifically considering the troubled socio-cultural context in which the film was shot.
Joyland’s virtuoso cast provides some effortless performances. Ali Junejo, Salmaan Peerzada , Sarwat Gilani, Sania Saeed, Sohail Sameer, and Alina Khan all shine in their respective roles.
In all fairness, Joyland remains a thought-provoking and engrossing drama set in a conservative culture. It is a profoundly moving film that could make a significant difference in the patriarchal society of Pakistan and will certainly make an emotional connection with the audience.