Ho Mann Jahaan (Review): This coming of age musical makes for a decent watch despite its shortcomings

Movie Name: Ho Mann Jahaan

Release Date: January 1, 2016

Director: Asim Raza

Review by: Momin Ali Munshi

Bollywood released 109 films this last year. I’m not talking about Tamil, Telgu and other regional language releases but just the Hindi releases which make up Bollywood. This means that on average about 9 films released every month. Now if I were to ask you to name these films, how many names would you come up with?  Not many I assume. Furthermore, how many of these films would you say were eagerly awaited releases? The number would further decline. Now let’s come to our local film industry that is Lollywood. We had a total of 14 films this year which roughly translates into 1 film every month. Now I’m fairly sure that you can name almost all of these fourteen releases and furthermore most of these films, if not all, were eagerly anticipated releases.

What was the agenda behind this comparison you ask? Well the point I’m trying to make is that we only have a limited number of releases every year and we expect the best from each and every film. The buzz and excitement surrounding our local films is just crazy. What’s even more interesting is that this buzz is not only limited to the commercial releases but even the art/niche films have an unprecedented amount of hype surrounding them. That is to say we celebrate each and every film that is to release and have high expectations from it.
Moreover, the hype which is created through promotional activities is increasing exponentially with each film release.  Remember how we all went crazy when ‘Jalaibee’ started its promotional tours earlier this year. Then came ‘Wrong Number’ and ‘JPNA’ which took things a few notches higher and well now the ‘Ho Mann Jahaan’ hysteria is nothing like we have ever seen before. Be it the ‘Shakar Wandaan’ dubsmashes , the university tours, television appearances, concerts or the general craze, it’s all just surreal.

I’m sure you have an idea of where I’m getting too. What I’m trying to say is that we in Pakistan are celebrating every release to the extent that the expectations surrounding the film reach the sky and a masterpiece is expected from every film. Somewhere we forget that statistically speaking it’s not possible that every film will live up to the expectations and will come out as a blockbuster. There will be hits, there will be flops and then there will be the average films which I like to call fillers! These filler films are just the average films which aren’t great films but then aren’t bad films either. Their case is synonymous to that student in class who just does well enough to pass the exam with decent marks.

And Ho Mann Jahaan according to me is a filler film. It’s not bad, but it’s not spectacular either. It’s just an average film that has its shortcomings but makes for a decent watch and we Pakistanis need to accept that as our industry grows there will lots of such filler films that come our way. In between the blockbusters and the disastsers there will be films like ‘Ho Mann Jahaan’ and we need to just accept this fact and lower our expectations for every and any Pakistani film.

( I’ve used box office success and quality of film interchangeably as differentiating between them would further complicate the discussion)

Now lets talk about the film.

Story

The story revolves around the lives of three college students Arhan (Shehrayar), Nadir (Adeel) and Muneezeh (Mahira) who are all aspiring musicians studying in a Business Institute. College ends, real life kicks in and the film shows this journey from college to the big bad world and how different factors such as parental pressures, societal norms, etc. affect the lives and relationships of these three friends.

Now the story isn’t really groundbreaking and we have witnessed this subject countless times already but still there is something about the localized treatment that clicks with the average viewer. The characters are all very real and the situations very relatable.

But there are also some drawbacks when it comes to the story. I won’t get into the nitty gritties and give away spoilers but some portions seem superfluous and unneeded. There is no reason why so and so does so and so and there is a big question mark of why. That having said the main plot is satisfying and once the film ends, which is a long journey, you leave the cinema with a smile.

Direction

Asim Raza’s foray into films was under close scrutiny considering the fate of his contemporaries from the advertisement world and it would not be wrong to say that his transition is a fairly successful one albeit not completely smooth. Asim shows spark as a film director but not without some oversights. First and most important being the editing, which is something almost every Pakistani filmmaker needs to learn. The film moves at the pace of a snail and is dragged unnecessarily to the point that one feels disinterested and completely disinvolved. Had the editing been crisp the film would have been something else altogether.

‘Why does it look like the film is playing in zoom mode’ commented one of the guests at the premire after having seen the film and that is exactly my question for Asim. Why the unnecessary close up shots which add no value to the film.

Lastly is the same old issue of ‘oh this looked like a television drama’. Well this actually looked like a 22 episode serial being watched together in one sitting. There weren’t many cinematic shots and then there were some very absurd shots which I believe were added to make the film look more film-like. Had ‘Ho Mann Jahaan’ been a television show it would have set new benchmarks in the television world but for a film where you pay 500 rupees, well, its a different story.

But all this criticism should not take away from the fact that Asim Raza as a director has done fairly well considering that this was his directorial debut. He surely knows his craft, is a great story-teller and his attention to detail is just too good. He just needs to polish his skills a bit more and Im sure he will emerge as one of the successful directors in the future.

Acting

Shehryar Munawar as Arhan is without doubt the star of the film. He completely steals the show and emerges as a strong performer and that to in his very first film. The spunk and energy that he brings to the screen is great and for all the detractors who had doubts about his acting skills you are in for a surprise.

Adeel Hussain as Nadir is good. He looks and performs the part rather well but it’s only the emotional scenes where he comes off as a bit untrained. There is this one scene towards the end which looks like a complete joke. Other than that we have a tall, dark and handsome hunk who knows his stuff and could very well pose serious competition to the reigning superstars.

Mahira Khan does the same old bit she did in ‘Bin Roye’, ‘Humsafar’ and basically any project she has been a part of. Although she fits perfectly in the role of the the strong minded Muneezah but Mahira rehashing her earlier characters is very off putting. That having said she does improve in the later parts of the film and does manage to successfully bring to screen what Asim envisioned.

Sonya Jehan as the strong, independent Sabina is probably the highlight of the film. Although there is not much scope for her to perform but whatever little part she has she is just perfection personified.

Bushara Ansari, Nimra Bucha, Jamal Shah are there in supporting roles and all do justice to their roles.  It was surely pleasing to see so many veterans on the silver screen. However I strongly feel that Bushra Ansari as a stock character is not done.

Music

The music is one of the strengths of the film and that was evident from the very first day when the music came out. Be it Asrar’s ‘Shakar Wandaan’, Jimmy Khan’s ‘Baarish’ or Zoheb Hassan’s classic ‘Dosti,’ every song makes its mark felt and helps the film move forward. Pegged as a musical the music of this film is surely going to stay with the listeners for a long period of time. But while the songs will appeal to one section of the crowd, they may come across as boring and bland for the other section of crowd who is more into Bollywood and peppy dance numbers. Nonetheless the music is a major plus point.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Story
Acting
Direction
Music
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I might be an Economics graduate from LUMS, but cinema is where my heart truly belongs. Always up for a discussion on fims and I guess you could call me a Pakistani Cinema aficionado. Email: mominalimunshi@yahoo.com

5 COMMENTS

  1. Good content, needs to be chopped by at least 30 minutes. Needless dialogbaazi esp between older characters is NOT fun.

  2. Momin, I felt you were totally unfair in your review here. Everything i believe has to be in context of where the industry is. Forget the fact that I thought it was an amazing movie. You giving just 2 and half star to story and direction is really harsh. In an industry where over acting is the norm, Just three star for a superbly acted film is not only harsh but unfair. It was an unbelievable effort from the entire team.

    Being in the US I dont get to see all of the movies but have seen an encouraging number of movies in the last year or so in theaters. Josh, Chambaili, Jalaibee, Zinda Bhaag, Bin Roye, JPNA and now HMJ. Keep up the good work you are doing.

    Also since yours, really is the only reputable website. To see the coming attraction page show outdated information is heartbreaking. Can you update that more often. Maybe even add announced movies. Thanks again

    • Firstly, extremely sorry for the late reply.
      Well I completely get what you are trying to say and believe me I take all of that into account while doing reviews but the audience expectations are growing exponentially with every release and the ‘Be Pakistani Support Pakistani’ cant really be used now.
      Thank you for the kind words. Actually most of us at Galaxy are students and Galaxy is just a passion project as we tend to be a bit lazy at times but will update the page 🙂

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