If Lollywood’s sibling was an infant when Khuda Kay Liye was released, it reached adolescence with Na Maloom Afraad and matured this year. The urgency to grow up is because as we realised that jawani phir nahi ani, the moor of all films set a precedent for those to follow.
In spite of the pride with which Moor has been owned, it’s paisal vasool entertainers such as Jawani Phir Nahin Ani (JPNA) that provide breathing space for such films. JPNA supplies the much-needed oxygen for Pakistani cinema and, this time around, the Humayun-Vasay duo serves it with a few impurities and even pressure.
Saif (Hamza Ali Abbasi), BB (Ahmed Ali Butt) and Sheikh (Vasay Chowdhry) are old-time pals unduly tired of their wives and, in some cases, in-laws for being control freaks.
Ahmed Ali Butt singlehandedly clutches together many scenes that would’ve otherwise collapsed. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY
One odd day, their filthy-rich friend, Sherry (Humayun Saeed), returns from the US. Sherry reprimands his married friends for submitting to their wives and paves the way for their freedom in the form of an all-boys getaway. What follows is a joyride that eventually drags but keeps you glued to the seat for the most part.
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Where the plot of the film is similar to that of Masti, the humour in JPNA is quintessentially original. If at all, it’s an extension of what was originated with Teen Bata Teen: a trend of utilising popular youth stereotypes to create larger-than-life characters that suffer from everyday problems. Garnish those with Vasay’s socially-relevant and politically incorrect one-liners and you’re bound to break into fits of laughter.
At the same time, credit must be given to the producer and director for giving the writer requisite freedom of expression: the kind that allows mocking the Chief Justice and comparing bikini-clad women on the beach to landscapes. In fact, it’s one of those films where exploiting clichés doesn’t seem redundant, something that led to the suicide of Karachi Se Lahore.
On the other hand, the director, Nadeem Baig (not the veteran actor), has worked extensively on Butt and it reflects in his profound portrayal of a guy whose weight overpowers the Romeo in him. He singlehandedly clutches together many scenes that would’ve otherwise collapsed, with the exception of the ones with Saeed in them.
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Now, we have to concur — Saeed has not only returned to the big screen with a resonant bang but has also located his long-lost talent from the basement. He plays an alpha male who exudes style and charisma effortlessly — dominating the scenes with an eclectic range of emotions and not just screentime. His emergence out of the blue also reflects on what a faulty script can do to a decent actor: compare and contrast Saeed in Bin Roye and JPNA and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Sarwat Gillani, Uzma Khan, Ayesha Khan and Mehwish Hayat are all employed as props and they don’t really attempt to do anything more.
On the downside, directorial calls, such as the preliminary flashback and needless stretching in the end, hinder the smooth pacing of the film. Baig attempts to resolve every possible plot point of a story that in itself doesn’t follow any rules of reason, and that sense of indecision is reflected in the final product.
But this is made up for by the overall cinematic experience, such as the grand shots scales with only a handful of close-ups and the richly-choreographed dances, even if Sohai Ali Abro seemed to be the only one at home with them.
JPNA gets the timing dead-on, both in terms of comedy and its release date, to give us an unreasonable film that gives many reasons to laugh.
For all its flaws, JPNA is a thoroughly entertaining film that will reward you if you don’t think it out too much.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2015.
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