Amna Ilyas is a Pakistan-based supermodel-turned-actress who features as the leading lady in Run for Your Life (Zinda Bhaag), currently showing at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. The film tackles issues familiar to expats living in the UAE: the desire to leave the country of their birth and chase their fortunes abroad. The three young men in the film, Khalidi, Taambi and Chitta, are ready to go to any lengths to leave, whereas Ilyas’s character Rubina, who is Khalidi’s girlfriend, believes in making a better life for herself at home in Pakistan.
“There is a misconception in middle-class society in Pakistan that if you go abroad your life will be heaven, so this film is about clearing these misconceptions,” says Ilyas. “The three friends in this film are all desperate to go to Europe and try different ways to get there. But Rubina doesn’t believe in shortcuts; she is an entrepreneur in a man’s world, trying to make a name for herself.”
Ilyas is familiar with this situation; both her sisters live in Holland and they tell her stories about attempts to start a new life overseas that went fatally wrong.
“I have heard these stories about Pakistanis who smuggle themselves in the engines of ships and others who die of suffocation while stowed away. Everyone wants to get out of Pakistan, that’s the harsh reality, because of a lack of awareness and a lack of education. But we want the government to provide opportunities so people stay. I hope Pakistani expatriates in the UAE will relate to the film.”
The other film Ilyas has made, Good Morning Karachi, has also been doing well in the film-festival circuit and was recently well received at the San Francisco Film Festival.
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