As its release date approaches near, Azfar Jafri’s second feature film Janaan’s promotions seem to be at an all-time high. With cast members Armeena Rana Khan, Bilal Ashraf and Ali Rehman Khan touring the country and running campaigns, those behind the venture seem to be making sure people everywhere get the word about it. For them, only one date is important: September 13, which marks the release of the first mainstream film from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Jafri’s debut feature film Siyaah (2013), a low-budget independent horror, put him on the map of Pakistani cinema. His second film, a rom-com, has run on a much grander scale and boasts of a well-known cast. Talking about what Janaan will achieve, Jafri said, “I think the film is going to prove to be a bold statement for Pakistani cinema. I don’t mean just financially, but overall as well. I think we are going to do well because of positive word-of-mouth also.”

For someone who seems to be playing with different genres in his films, it’s no surprise that Jafri believes more in storytelling and less in being caught up in categories. Speaking about the genre that piques his interest the most, he shared, “I don’t think in terms of genre. For me, storytelling is more important, regardless of the genre. Janaan is a rom-com and my one, Parchi, will be an all-out comedy. Perhaps, the next one after that will be an action film. For me, it is whether the story is good or not.”

A true auteur often works around a common underlying theme in his filmography throughout the career. While Pakistan is far from creating an auteur like Ingmar Bergman or David Lynch, there is no gainsaying that film-makers are rising to the top by experimenting, and making films that, in fact, matter to them. Similarly, a good script is a sure-fire way to maintain a consistent quality to films.

Jafri stated the script is the most important to him while choosing a project. Having a good script worked in his favour with Siyaah.

Janaan producer Imran Raza Kazmi commended writer-actor Osman Khalid Butt, who wrote both the films. “He is a great writer. He brings great ideas to the table. I think his texturing of the characters and those details are just amazing,” said Kazmi.

Jafri feels the making of Janaan was a lot of fun. Speaking about his work ethic, Jafri stated, “I would say I am quite a lenient director. I like to keep it fun on the sets. It helps the production and the energy is maintained. During Janaan, we had so much fun. The cast members would play pranks on each other all the time. It was truly a blast.”

He does recognise the support of his cast and crew. “I am glad my actors, talented as they are, were so cooperative. If I would want to move on to another shot after one take, they would still want to go once again, in case I was not satisfied.”

Recently, Janaan’s music has been creating a lot of buzz. The soundtrack comprises five songs featuring collaborations with Indian artists such as music director duo Salim-Sulaiman and singers Armaan Malik and Shreya Ghoshal.

The film, which tells the story of a love triangle amid a Pukhtun family wedding, aims to bring Pukhtun culture to the mainstream. It will release in 11 countries, including the US, UK, Canada and Singapore, on September 13.