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6 Oct

Why ‘Jawani Phir Nahi Aani’ works

 

Jawani Phir Nahi Aani has to be one of the most enjoyable Pakistani movies I’ve ever watched. I would even go as far as saying it’s one of the most enjoyable films I’ve watched, period. I wish I had the time to see it again because it is worth the encore. Is JPNA original?

 

I wouldn’t go that far. It’s a formula flick featuring three hen pecked friends who find a brief getaway to Bangkok thanks to a cool and successful divorce lawyer/bachelor friend and the rest is predictable. What keeps you at the edge of your seat, or rolling away in mirth, is the film’s characterization and dialogue.

 

Ahmed Ali Butt is at his comic best. Vasay Chaudhry may not be as comfortable on camera but his expertise infiltrates the entire film as its rib tickling dialogue. Hamza Ali Abbasi is actually likable. Not only can he act but his comic timing is impressive too. And Humayun Saeed…despite all the criticism meted out to him, I have new found respect for the actor who handles his character very maturely. People keep objecting that he’s too old to play hero now but Saeed is 44, a good five years younger than the 49-year old and still going strong Shahrukh Khan (it’s debatable whether SRK should be hero too but I, for one, am a fan).

 

“You called me naughty boy?” Sherry (Humayun’s character) exclaims at a totally sloshed Marina (Mehwish Hayat) who he’s picked up at a bar. “Why don’t we focus on naughty and forget the boy?” Sherry is no spring chicken and he’s not coming home with his Matric results so let’s cut him some slack. Plus, the one scene where he tries to convince the hilarious Ya Sheikh (Ismail Tara) that he’s gay is totally worth it.

 

Amongst the less impressive (albeit pretty) female characters, Sarwat Gillani as Gul taps into the pakhtun within her perfectly and Sohai Ali Abro, as the baby doll, selfie obsessed Zoya is perfect. They are the big surprises of the film.

So why watch JPNA:

 

  1. The humour, which is relevant to Pakistan today. You’ll get all the Gullu Butt, PTI, fashion-selfie obsessed references that you can think of. I enjoyed Na Maloom Afraad too but while NMA was very Karachi-centric, JPNA is national level humour.

 

  1. The music, which is catchy, whether you like it or not. I’m the biggest critic of corporate sponsored creativity but JPNA’s strong points overshadow this otherwise fatal flaw. It’s easy to get over the nagging presence of Tarang and Fair and Lovely. The title track, ‘JPNA’ by Ahmed Ali Butt is the best. In fact I’m going to download the soundtrack right now.

 

  1. The female characters, who are strong, beautiful, well dressed and successful. There is no whiny, oppressed woman syndrome; there are no shrinking violets. Pakistani dramas, no matter how great they are, have done the bechari aurat to death and it’s great that our films (all of them) are reversing that tide. Love the gun-wielding pathani and the head strong Zoya who volunteers to “#breakup” when she feels she’s being sidelined.

 

  1. The cinematography, which casts JPNA as a feature film and not a tele-drama. This is the single biggest problem that our films are facing: they appear to be dramas for the big screen. This one has the cinematic depth and it helps that it’s been shot mainly in Thailand.

 

  1. The style, because at the end of the day only art films can work and succeed without style. Commercial flicks such as JPNA must be ‘groovy’ and smart and it is. We see well-dressed characters and even a couple of fashionable cameos. And at the end of the day it’s the direction, in this case by Nadeem Baig, that ensures a strong final product.

 

It’s a must watch!

Aamna Haider Isani

The author is Editor-in-Chief at Something Haute as well as Editor at Instep, The News. Full time writer, critic with a love for words and an intolerance for typos.