• Humayun Saeed is too anxious to sleep before the release of Punjab Nahi Jaungi

    Humayun Saeed File photo Humayun Saeed

    His Punjab Nahi Jaungi – where he plays the male lead and is also producer – releases in a few days and it's leading to sleepless nights and a great deal of pacing and fretting.

    The trailer has been very well-received, the songs are trending on social media and initial reports from the censor board reveal that the movie’s a winner. And yet, these good tidings haven’t done much to allay Humayun’s fears.

    “I couldn’t sleep last night and eventually took a sleeping pill at 6am,” reveals the actor. “I only invest in a movie once I am completely sure that it’s going to turn out well. Still, even the most seasoned veterans sometimes make mistakes. I may have an idea of what works in the cinema but I can’t be entirely sure.”

    The movie releases on September 1 across Pakistan, a day before Eid-ul-Azha, and cinema-goers may soon be seeing Humayun slinking in the shadows during numerous shows. The actor-producer is a film-lover and he particularly visits cinemas to understand how crowds react to his ventures.

    “I notice what they particularly find funny and which scenes generate claps,” he explains, “it adds to my know-how.”

    On hindsight, there is much to PNJ that could possibly have audiences raving. The cast consists of well-known popular actors. Humayun pairs up once again with actress Mehwish Hayat – the two have hitherto been seen together in the 2015 film Jawani Phir Nahi Ani and last year’s TV drama Dil Lagi.

    Joining them are Urwa Hocane and funny man Ahmed Ali Butt. Nadeem Baig directs and the trailers have revealed some slick cinematography: Lahore’s Shahi-Mahal and the ancient relics of Bahawalpur iridescent in fairy lights, exuberant dhol-waalay, fireworks, fields rich with bright yellow harvest and multi-colored dance sequences.

    Humayun, as a quintessential son of the soil, has a Punjabi-esque moustache. “I haven’t gone overboard when trying to look and act ‘Punjabi’,” he says. “My character has a moustache because it is part of a tradition in his family. I have added slight tinges here and there but he’s a well-groomed man who doesn’t look ridiculous because he isn’t constantly wearing a dhoti or being unnecessarily loud.”

    His Punjabi avatar seems to have been received well with fans raving about his looks as the cast and crew have trooped the world on their promotional rounds, ricocheting from the UK to Dubai to different parts of Pakistan. Also squeezed in the middle are Eid show recordings, programmed to create mileage for the movie right after it releases.

    Images of these recordings have filtered onto the Internet, showing the actors dressed in their formal Eid best, complete with bling and embroidered finishings. In fact, according to actress Mehwish Hayat, she is now looking forward to wearing more minimal designer-wear to PNJ’s various premieres. “I have already had my fill of shimmery Eid wear during the TV show appearances,” she laughs.

    “It’s been exhausting but fun throughout,” says Humayun. “We all get along very well together and I think that chemistry will be apparent on screen.”

    It has also been hard work. Humayun and Mehwish both recall the gruelling all-night shoots for the song 'Ronak-e-Aashiqui' where the cast had to get completely drenched in fake rain in the middle of winter. "My scenes were in slow motion and this meant that all my actions had to be done very quickly. The camera would then slow it down," recalls Mehwish. "It took ages and we had to work our way through technical glitches. I was freezing by the time I was through."

    In an effort to stay warm, Humayun's assistant suggested to him to wear a plastic sheet underneath his clothes. "After two hours I was freezing and my lips turned blue while everybody else was relatively fine," he says. "It turned out that the plastic sheet was retaining the water, making me even colder!"

    We'll be sure to keep an eye out for the song! Punjab Nahi Jaungi premieres in Karachi tonight and opens to the public on September 1.

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