Movie Name: Janaan
Release Date: Sept 13, 2016
Director: Azfar Jafri
Review by: Momin Ali Munshi
As soon as the end credits began rolling the mass hysteria, which is common at film premieres, took over the entire hall. Hooting and clapping for the film, swarming fans trying to get a selfie with the actors and a general excitement where everyone’s asking each other the same question ‘So did you like the film’?
Thinking objectively at these times is quite a daunting task but thankfully nobody really wants an honest reply. The makers just want reassurance that what they have made is worthwhile whereas other guests just use this question to make small talk. And mind you, most of what people say to each other at this point is a lie! Funnily, despite knowing this as a fact, I was quite perplexed at the Janaan premiere for everyone around me could not stop raving of the brilliance they had seen unfolding on the silver screen and I was just wondering did they see the same film which I did?
Not that Janaan is a bad film, on the contrary it is a fairly well made film and almost a masterpiece if you consider the recent trash that has been churned out by our local film-makers! But somewhere I felt that the overloaded script and poor screenplay took away greatly from a film that was otherwise beautifully shot and had good performances from the actors. The need to add everything in it, hence the title reference to a mix chaat, just dampened the appeal for me. Having said that I must mention that on the whole the film is a laudable effort by the makers and makes for an entertaining watch.
The film opens in Canada where we meet Meena ( Armeena Khan) who is coming back to her hometown Swat after a good seven years, or was it eleven years, anyhow the point being shes coming back after a long time. Back home she has her two ridiculously good looking cousins Asfandhyar ( Bilal Ashraf) and Daniyal ( Ali Rehman) who instantly take a liking towards Meena and well that is the basic premise. Add a desi wedding, some Pushtoon-ness, an evil Nayyer Ejaz and voila thats Janaan for you.
To be honest the basic premise is nothing exciting but it is the local treatment which gives the film a very distinct Pakistani touch and hits the right note. From the use of language and displaying various traditions to the feel the film succeeds in creating it is all one hundred percent Pakistani. ‘Janaan’ is one of the few films to have come out of Pakistan in recent times which can actually be considered our own in the sense that there is no borrowed lingo or constant references to something that is not us! Therefore kudos to the team for reminding us of who we are and what our culture is. Although the director does take some creative liberty in painting a somewhat unrealistic picture of Swat but nonetheless we approve!
Furthermore the director Azfar Jafri is good with the shots, and thankfully knows how to operate a camera ( Im looking at you makers of Teri Meri Love Story). Swat looks beautiful which should be credited to the cinematographer Rana Kamran who along with the director gives some breathtaking views which make for a cinematic treat. However most of the shots are over exposed and the cast does look washed out , but I would prefer this any day over films which dont even get their color grading done ( again looking at you Teri Meri Love Story).
But while it was a visual treat the same cannot be said for the content. The story is weak and screenplay is just bad! Yes, there is no other way of saying it. Scenes dont really flow into each other and well the film is all over the place when you talk about coherency. I cant delve into much details without giving away a few spoilers but Ill just say that the makers took the idea of making a complete package tad bit too seriously and couldn’t really do justice to the issues they wanted to tackle. Also I personally did not enjoy the ending and felt that an alternative ending would have been more impactful. But one thing the writer, Osman Khalid Butt, definitely got right was the comedy bit as the dialogues are genuinely funny and succeed in eliciting laughter from the audiences. The one-liners are just too good!
Coming to the acting bit its Ali Rehman who steals the show as ‘Islamabad ka shoda’ Daniyal. One can argue that he had the most scope to perform compared to the other two but whatever you say this boy can act. He handles comedy with the same ease as he does the emotional scenes. Bilal Ashraf leaves a lasting impact with his hero act in the film and finally we have someone with a screen presence. Yes, the emotional scenes aren’t his strongest suit but hey its his debut film and yes its an actual debut into the acting world unlike the tv to film transitions. So kudos to Bilal for a strong first performance which we are sure will only improve with time. Armeena as Meena makes one realize how she has come a long way from the ‘Bin Roye’ days. She is now more comfortable in her skin and that shows in the acting, which despite coming across as forced at times , is a great improvement from her earlier film. So way to go Armeena.
As for the supporting cast everyone puts their best foot forward. Debutant’s Hania and Usman are two faces to look out for and they will go a long way. Hania as the chirpy Palwasha is just too good. They was she has handled her scenes, despite not being a trained actor is just commendable. Usman may not have many scenes but he does well in whatever little capacity. As for the veterans all do justice to their characters and show why they are forces to be reckoned with. Be it the sinister Ikramullah played by Nayyer Ejaz , the punjabi aunty played by Mishi Khan or Ajab Gul as the head of the household all are just too good. Although I do feel that Mishi Khan could have had a meatier role.
Lastly, the music of the film is not that great and leaves much to be desired. Given that it was romantic comedy with three hot leads the music could have definitely upped the game. But sadly other than the soulful ‘Janaan’ and melodious ‘Reid-i-Gul’ the album has nothing to offer. The wedding song ‘Shor Sharaba’ is a huge miss both in terms of the audio and the picturization.