Jawani Phir Nahi Ani: Where's the outrage now?

Published: October 8, 2015
In spite of all controversies pre-release, why does the film continue to break all box office records in Pakistan?

In spite of all controversies pre-release, why does the film continue to break all box office records in Pakistan?

In spite of all controversies pre-release, why does the film continue to break all box office records in Pakistan?

KARACHI: I have seen Jawani Phir Nahi Ani (JPNA) twice. Both times, the hall was jam-packed. Both times, I laughed so hard throughout the film my jaw started hurting. Both times, the audience’s laughter barely left any space for a moment of silence. If you’ve watched the film, you know I am not stretching the truth.

And to be honest, the reactions are really interesting; fascinating, even because, if you remember, the film was surrounded with controversy before its release.

People were certainly not pleased after seeing the first teaser. Bikini-clad white girls dancing around the film’s lead characters in a scene shot on a beach in Bangkok? How dare they? The outrage was so severe, one of the lead actors, Hamza Ali Abbasi, refused to be part of the film’s promotions. He said during the course of the film’s production his outlook towards what’s inappropriate and what’s not changed and he now regretted shooting that particular sequence.

Read: ‘He is being paid’: Humayun dismisses Hamza’s claim of not taking money for JPNA

This was followed by comparisons between JPNA, Bollywood sex comedy Masti and its sequel Grand Masti. People said the film was against our culture, and soon #BanJawaniPhirNahiAni started trending on Twitter.

But eventually, like the comparisons, the hashtag began to fade away and disappear. Facebook posts and tweets praising the film started emerging. “Jawani Phir Nahin Ani is amazing and a laugh riot. Not to be missed by anyone. Pakistani cinema comes out with an out and out masala comedy entertainer! You won’t regret it!” read one post. “Just watched Jawani phir nahi ani! #JPNA What an entertainer guys! It’s a must watch!” read another.

Why is it that in spite of all the controversies it created pre-release the film continues to break all box office records in Pakistan? Let’s take a look:

The infamous bikini scene

First thing’s first. In terms of “vulgarity” there’s no scene in the film which the Pakistani audience has never seen before. Those who take offence to singing and dancing in movies are clearly a minority or else Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (Deepika Padukone wasn’t exactly dressed in a burka when she danced to Balam Pichkari) or Dhoom 3 (Katrina definitely was not shy dancing to Kamli) or Cocktail (plenty of bikini-clad women in Tum Hi Ho Bandu) wouldn’t have been such rousing successes at the Pakistani box office. Were there any calls for a ban when these films were running houseful in Pakistan? None. But, of course, when you see women dancing to Khul Jaye Botal in JPNA, Pakistani culture falls into imminent danger.

The fact that people are taking their wives and children to watch JPNA suggests no one seems to care about the bikini scene anymore. Why? Because those who went to see the film are mature enough to realise that’s what beaches around the world look like. In lead actor and producer Humayun Saeed’s words, “We didn’t show scantily dressed women jumping around at a beach in Karachi. It was a sequence on a beach in Bangkok and anyone who has been there, or to any beach in a foreign country for that matter, would understand how that shot was a requirement of the script.”

‘This is not our culture’

If there’s one film that hits the nail on its head when it comes to portraying Pakistani culture accurately, it’s JPNA. You have the housewife, the working wife and the wife who has complete control over her husband’s finances. You could probably characterise most Pakistani wives in one of these three categories; hence, the never-ending laughter in cinema halls.

All scenes involving the wives and kids of the male characters are reminiscent of the average Pakistani household. From the husband doing groceries to the husband getting flak for missing a family gathering to the husband being put down in front of friends, has any of this never happened in Pakistan? It has, and it clearly resonated with audiences.

And then, there’s the main premise of the script: four friends take a secret vacation to Bangkok. How exactly is this “not our culture”? Do Pakistani men not travel? Has a married Pakistani man never set foot in Bangkok? If you think that’s the case, you probably don’t have any friends.

Another argument that I have often heard is: it’s OK for Bollywood films to show “such vulgar visuals” but not for Pakistani films because such scenes are against our culture and values.

Fair enough.

Three Pakistani films, Moor, Shah and Manto, were released during the last couple of months. Two of these, Shah — which was a biopic of legendary boxer Hussain Shah — and Moor — a film based in Balochistan which highlights the plight of families affected by corruption in Pakistan Railways — actually came out on Independence Day. None of three films had any of these “vulgar visuals”. No item songs. No women running around in bikinis. Do you know how much money they made?

Shah‘s lifetime collection is a little over Rs10 million. Moor has made approximately Rs20 million while Manto‘s current box office collection stands at nearly Rs50 million. Could any film have been a better representation of our culture than Manto? Was Shah not good enough to quench our patriotic thirst? Why aren’t these films blockbusters in spite of overwhelmingly positive reviews and a strong word of mouth?

JPNA, on the other hand, has made nearly Rs200 million in just 13 days. It’s on its way to becoming Pakistan’s biggest blockbuster. Ever! Says a lot about a film which is supposedly “against our values and culture”, don’t you think?

Neither Masti nor Grand Masti

One of the lead actors and the film’s writer — Vasay Chaudhry — says social media is a menace; one that thrives on negativity. JPNA bore the brunt of it when people dismissed it with comments comparing it to Bollywood sex comedies Masti and Grand Masti.

#JPNA song BTS! #JawaniPhirNahiAni #AryFilms #MadeInPakistan

A photo posted by Jawani Phir Nahi Ani (@jpnathefilm) on

Read: JPNA isn’t inspired by Bollywood or Hollywood: Vasay Chaudhry

When enquired, Vasay said not one such person apologised for the misconception they created about the film.

People also said it was a copy of Hollywood blockbuster Hangover. But it isn’t. That’s not to say JPNA’s storyline is unique. It’s not. There have been films even before Hangover and Masti that show friends on vacation or married men looking to have some fun. Dil Chahta Hai, for instance. Was Hangover a copy of Dil Chahta Hai? Not really. What about Biwi No. 1? A married Salman Khan has an extramarital affair with Sushmita Sen. Was Masti a copy? Not really.

We need more films like JPNA

Its storyline may not be unique but the humour in JPNA certainly is. From the characters cracking jokes on real life personas of each other to them highlighting major societal issues in a witty manner, the film is an absolute winner. And to top it off, the actors have done a brilliant job.

Team #JPNA! #JawaniPhirNahiAni #AryFilms #MadeInPakistan

A photo posted by Jawani Phir Nahi Ani (@jpnathefilm) on

JPNA is a wholesome entertainer which has given the Pakistani audience an opportunity to laugh in abundance at jokes that are our own, not borrowed. And while it’s great that we are making extraordinary films like Manto, Shah and Moor, there is no denying that a very large chunk of our audience wants to see entertainers that have a lot singing, dancing, romance, and the usual.

So, as they say, don’t judge a book by its cover. And in this case, don’t judge a movie by its teaser.

#JPNA Theme song coming soon! #JawaniPhirNahiAni #AryFilms #MadeInPakistan

A photo posted by Jawani Phir Nahi Ani (@jpnathefilm) on

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Reader Comments (33)

  • Layman
    Oct 8, 2015 - 3:14PM

    One of the best comedy movies I have watched so far, if you want to go on roller coaster ride of laughter then this is the movie you should watch, Pakistani cinema is back with a bang..kudoooos to the makers…Recommend

  • Sunny
    Oct 8, 2015 - 3:44PM

    Will you recommend it to seen with ones mother or daughter ?Recommend

  • Ahsan
    Oct 8, 2015 - 3:58PM

    I watched it with my sisters and cousins and there wad nothing embarrassing about it
    All this stuff is already there in Indian movies. But this movie made everyone laugh. That is what matter. Better than any Indian comedy, hands down. Recommend

  • Expat
    Oct 8, 2015 - 4:42PM

    @Sunny: wait for the DVD version and then watch it with your family and fast forward the bad scenes. End of story!Recommend

  • Oct 8, 2015 - 4:43PM

    Nope, Go with friends instead. Fabulous entertainment.Recommend

  • jersey
    Oct 8, 2015 - 5:38PM


    I watched the movie with my wife, we both could not stop laughing. If my mother and sister were around I would have watched it with them too. Time to pinch the moral bubbleRecommend

  • S Rehman
    Oct 8, 2015 - 6:09PM

    Totally agree with the analysis ….people are used to watching the kind of stuff people are moaning about ,but the winner is the HUMOUR …which is fresh ,extremely witty and very Pakistani the ones who have a problem don’t watch it …but film itself is the best comedy film ever ,from start to finish its full of laughter …well done ,proud of you JPNA team Recommend

  • Namrah
    Oct 8, 2015 - 6:13PM

    It was great! couldn’t stop laughing. Every story doesnt have to be based on something serious and full of morals etc. People need to chill and enjoy some casual flicks. Im sure majority of the people complaining watch the same thing in bollywood in hollywood movies.Recommend

  • Punjab
    Oct 8, 2015 - 7:00PM

    Saw it with friends and then again with family….complete masala entertainment.. better than many recent masala bollywood releases. Recommend

  • Faisal
    Oct 8, 2015 - 7:38PM

    Finally a great analysis of a masterpiece of cinematic excellence! You have hit every nail in the coffin with this analysis! Perfect! Pakistani audiences need to embrace their own cinema without continual comparison to Hollywood and Bollywood! Films do not ruin cultures! Ignorant mind sets ruin cultures!!Recommend

  • ahsan
    Oct 8, 2015 - 7:50PM

    thought i might agree with most part about foolish controversies but comparing shah, moor etc with JPNA financially is stupid and shows sheer lack of knowledge on the part of author.

    Just a few years back Pakistani stage was making so much money each show that these movies all combined cannot amass (front row floor was 5000+/per person) but that was all based on vulgar dance (mujras) and since the ban or control on vulgarity they are hardly any full house. if you think these were some low lives, study amarican cinema industry around 70s when some theaters decided to show porn on cinema and some porn movies even made it to top 10 blockbusters (even on a limited theatrical release) and US court had to jump in and put a ban.

    So my friend vulgarity always sell and i end this comment with a saying from moor’s director “app moni ko utna badnam nai kar saktay jitna wo kar saktay hain”, so better avoid moni and come up with your original ideals masses are bound to come and watch.Recommend

  • Oct 8, 2015 - 10:56PM

    i think it’s depend on person’s mind who want to watch this or not . .mostly Pakistanis think that watching these types of movies is bad ,but watching Indians movies are very good ,promoting their movies and go cinema to watch bollywood movies and spent money on them is good but when Pakistani producers make such type of movies so this is against our culture .We should promote just Pakistani movies not Indians.They worked very goodRecommend

  • Raz
    Oct 8, 2015 - 11:05PM

    I agree with Ahsan´s comments. Vulgarity always sells.

    No offense please, but what a stupid argumentation in the article. What about Waar? It was in term with Hollywood way of making movies and what a slick result Waar is -it even beats most of the Hollywood movies in every way. And it was a huge hit with public hence earned more than any other movie.

    This movie looks very Bollywood-ish, so it is in fact in term with the way they do a movie. So yes it is inspired by their way of making movies. Denying it makes no sense. aPeriod.

    Masti = Copy of Hollywood flick “Whipped”
    Dil chahta hai = Copy of Hollywood movies “Fire”, “Reality Bites” and TV serial “Friends”.Recommend

  • Raz
    Oct 8, 2015 - 11:10PM

    A correction to my above mentioned comment – sorry I forgot as it has been long time ago I watched it.
    Fire = “St. Elmo’s Fire”Recommend

  • SabaQ
    Oct 9, 2015 - 1:59AM

    Pakistanis are a confused lot. They watch all Hindi movies without fail. Then they criticize Hindi movies for being vulgar and try to feel superior (the likes of Hamza Ali Abbasi). Now Pakistani movie industry is churning out glossy replicas of Hindi ones which are as vulgar or worse.Recommend

  • Safina Samad
    Oct 9, 2015 - 5:10AM

    Saw the film in Houston Texas throughly loved the movies but was sad to see such a great grand opportunity missed in the second half of the film with over acting by Bushra Ansari, Javed Sheikh & daughter. Being a Pakistani Americans we do not conduct themselves in such a bizarre manner. The selfie puting of lips was good but to repeat it so any times was a disaster, the plot & storyline were great but there needs to be a creative consultant that ropes in the over ridiculous mindless silly acting flaws as the quality of production, music dances could have made this a real super show biz film. So don’t be hating on me I support our new revival of Pakistani films more comedy films we all need to laugh!Recommend

  • Oct 9, 2015 - 6:41AM

    Great movie, good review and arguments. We want more movies like this. Recommend

  • Sid
    Oct 9, 2015 - 7:43AM

    Please get over the double standards you guys live in and join the modern world Recommend

  • shank
    Oct 9, 2015 - 10:44AM

    What is Pakistani culture??? Culture is something which is constantly evolving. Produce one movie and think Pakistani movies are better than Bollywood movies. Need to learn more to eradicate ignorance.Recommend

  • sohaib
    Oct 9, 2015 - 11:39AM

    You define desi liberalism bro..Recommend

  • Oct 9, 2015 - 2:12PM

    fantastic review. JPNA has been released only on 86 screens domestically and it has already made Rs.20.25Crores at local box office and very near to break WAAR’s record. So far JPNA has made 23 and 50 thousand per screen which is phenomenal. If this film is released in India only on 300 screens, I’m 100% sure JPNA gonna cross 100Crores barrier easily. Recommend

  • put soil
    Oct 9, 2015 - 9:36PM

    lets move on. it was a great movie!
    Yeah, bikini etc was so un-necessary buy its chaddi under the bridge already!Recommend

  • Imran AB
    Oct 10, 2015 - 2:34PM

    Loved every moment of the film, watched it with my sons, my nieces, my wife and my sister and brother in law ….. no scene issues ..grow up everyone !!! Recommend

  • Yousafali P.M.
    Oct 10, 2015 - 3:33PM

    Watching a TV drama and a Pak Film are the same. The difference is just 3 hours v/s 30 days. Recommend

  • Zarroon
    Oct 11, 2015 - 12:16PM

    Just loved the movie..I watched it twice…the fim is a complete family package…u will not for a single moment be bored…honestly the film has very fresh and genuine dialogues.. Not borrowed as mentioned above..splendid work and vasey chohdary u have nailed it sir…the best comedy..Recommend

  • Zarroon
    Oct 11, 2015 - 12:18PM

    The best MOVIE…Recommend

  • waqar ahmed
    Oct 12, 2015 - 12:09PM

    who is asking you to bring your mother and sister? take them to watch manto and shah and moor :p … zaroori nahee her jaga mom n sis ko lay ker jaya jaye…Recommend

  • Hussain Syed
    Oct 12, 2015 - 6:38PM

    The argument wasn’t whether “vulgarity” sells or not. The argument was that this vulgarity is an inherent part of our culture. Learn some reading comprehension.

    Waar was a really poor film, to compare it to Hollywood is just funny. Recommend

  • Raz
    Oct 13, 2015 - 4:24AM

    @Hussain Syed:
    I actually was laughing at your comments. Waar is a poor movie!? he he you seem to have no clue of Hollywood movies. Period.Recommend

  • Faraz
    Oct 13, 2015 - 12:47PM

    The best movie everrrrr. A selfie now, baby?! POUT! [Reference to XYZ/Sohai from JPNA]Recommend

  • tariq
    Oct 16, 2015 - 9:57PM

    Our movies should depict our culture. There is nothing hipocrite about it. Not everyone takes their families to see Indian vulgar movies in cinemas. If copying Indian movie style is the recipe for success. Then now kissing scenes are becoming a norm in Indian movies. Soon we’ll start copying that as well. I agree the nude chicks on beach was not depicting our culture.Pakistani married men may go for holiday ,but drinking as if it is a norm for them, isn’t. Even a girl was shown drinking in the bar. In Lahore as well they were drinking bhung. Can’t the movie, have done well without all this. Drinking in normal pakistani households, is not only not done, but is unimaginable.
    In Pakistani dramas , which are such big hits across border, there is no drinking shown , does it effect the script. Please someone take action against this drinking culture. It’s not our cuture. It’s not a norm for pakistanis. It will definitely not effect the success of a movie. You know what it effects? It effects our youth. It puts in their mind that it’s not such a bad thing to do. If they are showing it, as if, it’s not a big deal, then maybe, drinking is not such a big sin. It effects our image as a Islamic republic. People who demanded, fought for and gave their lives for a seprate homeland. On the basis of their religious and cultural differences. Now seem no different than their neighbours, every nation must be wondering. It shows we have no backbone. Every negative comment about us seem to be so true. Recommend

  • hassan
    Oct 29, 2015 - 2:33AM

    i dn think so Recommend

  • Syed
    Nov 7, 2015 - 1:55AM

    The writer compares the movie scenes and pakistani audience acceptance with indian cinema. That is why the write says there was not any outrage. The sad thing is that most of the “Pakistani” audiences have accepted the vulgarity, double meaning sentences (comedy) and so called “open” society. So if you take your kids, daughters and mothers, you do not feel bad. Recommend

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