Jawani Phir Nahi Ani

Jawani Phir Nahi Ani (JPNA) is the first Pakistani movie ever to cross Rs. 254.5 million mark in just two weeks. That’s beating the records of previously critically acclaimed movies such as Khuda Ke Liye, Bol, Waar among others. This movie has courted controversy and interest in the same breath. Having seen it last night, I think this movie has become a very important movie for Pakistan. Other comedies, Jailabee and Wrong No., have come and gone. They were not fun movies and the humor downright unfunny.

Whether you like or hate JPNA there is no denial that it has become a very important movie. I can understand why some of the more conservative elements have expressed displeasure with this movie. Some of their criticisms range from “Why copy from Bollywood?” to “this is not part of our culture.”

We have three friends, Saif, Sheikh and Pervez, who are married to their wives, who are possessive, dominant and over-powering, rendering the men to the weaker spouse. They lead the lives of having their finances controlled, picking and dropping the kids and being forced to attend the in-laws gatherings. Enters an old college friend, Sherry, a divorce lawyer, who happens to be single (and hugely amoral) friend from the US. Through his charming ways, he manages to convince all three wives to allow their husbands to travel with him.

He takes them all to Bangkok, Thailand for a week of fun and frolic. There, at a club, Marina falls for Sherry and wants to marry him. Chaos ensues when her Don dad arranges for a quick marriage. In the meantime, the three wives find out the husbands have duped them, so the wives end up in Thailand!

What follows is a series of mishaps, confusion and mayhem. I won’t get much into the rest of the movie, because that’s spoiling the surprise.

However, here are the reasons why this movie is important.

  1. This movie is a breath of fresh air! Why must all our movies stick to the norm of what our culture is: Moor, Shah, Waar, Bol, Khude Ke Liye…yes, we get it, we have serious issues in Pakistan, and movies depicting those issues are wonderful. But why can’t we make comedy movies? Why can’t we have sense of humor too? This movie does just that without being crude or vulgar.
  2. The humor. There are loads of self-referential jokes, which are essentially Pakistani in nature. Which is what sets this apart from the typical Indian movies. A lot of fun is made and the movie makers are in on the fun, from selfies to wedding organizers to fashuon designers to married life. The comedic turns from Ahmed Butt and Vasay Chaudry was funny.
  3. The technical aspect is top notch. The cinematography, the direction, the locations, the costumes and other technical aspects are on par with any Bollywood or Hollywood movies.
  4. The women. They are not some hapless, damsels in distress women. These are women who are strong, assertive, know what they want.
  5. Culture. I am not saying this movie is representative of Pakistani culture, but we have to accept that a lot of what happens in the movie is somewhat representative of ground reality. The question this movie raises is what is Pakistani culture? Have we evolved? Who defines what Pakistani culture is? This question begs a longer detailed answer, but JPNA definitely forces you to rethink what defines our culture.

On the flip side, there are something which didn’t fare too well in the movie.

  1. Hamayun Saeed needs to act his age. He cannot pass off as a dashing hero. His second love interest was young enough to be his daughter. By making him an amoral character, you are never sure what his motives are. Is he supposed to be a nice guy or a bad guy?
  2. The songs were the weak elements in the movie. Two songs could have been deleted. The only one song I enjoyed was Khul Jaye Botal, which was slightly catchy. There are no item songs, surprise surprise.
  3. Hamza Ali Abbasi’s comedy timings is a little off. On a different note, Hamza had invited controversy when he shied away from promoting the movie as he had some scenes in Thailand with women in bikinis. Nothing earth shattering, or nothing we hadn’t seen before. It’s all a hype and only exposed him as a hypocrite.
  4. The script wasn’t entirely bad, but it could have been a little tighter and crisp. There are some scenes lifted from Housefull 2 and several other Bollywood movies, but then again, Bollywood is “inspired” by Hollywood.
  5. While I understand that product placement is important to fund the movies, let’s be more subtle about it. We don’t need Tarang milk packet thrusted in our faces, nor do we need to know that they’ve order Chicken burgers at McDonalds or shopping at Levis Jeans, and the worse of all, Fair N Lovely Jalwa song…

The main crux of the movie: marriage is a two way street. It takes two to tango. The wife and the husband needs to be on the same platform. Marriage cannot be run by one spouse. When one couple is nearing a divorce, the wife understands where she went wrong (too possessive). There is a strong underlying current message about marriage in a society like ours that’s obsessed with marriage.

Secondly, live your life. Not necessarily by partying it up, but live your life fully. Fulfill your dreams. Don’t waste away your life.

This movie will make a lot of money. This will set a benchmark on how to do a Pakistani comedy (with jokes relevant to our culture) and will pave the way for more such comedy. I had a good laugh throughout the movie. I want to give credit where it’s due: to the director, Nadeem Baig, to the writer, Vasay Chaudhry, for clearly JPNA has made an indelible mark in the history of Pakistani culture.

Verdict: Despite it’s flaws, JPNA is a good one time watch, with decent jokes and fun storyline where the humor will have you chuckling away into the night. Watch it to support Pakistani cinema.

3.5 out of 5.

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