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Janaan Film review

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Out of the three films released this Eid, I chose to watch Janaan because it was easily the one that created the most media buzz and boasted the best teasers and trailers. When this film was first announced , the then producers ,IRK films, said it was an attempt to show another side of pushtoon culture , far removed from the usual “Talebanisation“ and “fundamentalist” labels too often associated with it. Suffice to say they have succeeded. This is a rather sweet family movie with some great music and plenty of jokes to make the more serious issue raised in the second half more palatable.ali-rehman-bilal-ashraf

The standouts in this movie were Ali Rehman as Danyal and the fresh, clever humour that is the USP of this script. Ali Rehman did not just “steal the show”, he was the show; propping it up in several places when the story threatened to drag a bit. His magnetic screen presence, nonstop energy and ability to carry off any scene or dialogue with complete conviction made him the absolute star of the show. One of the great things about Janaan is the way it turns the usual south Asian stereotype of a man returning to his homeland after many years on its head, by making the main protagonist a female. Meena ( Armeena Rana Khan ) returns to her family home in Swat ,  no one questions her “modern ways “ , and thankfully she isn’t the usual  clichéd batamees, fish out of water, ABCD  ( American Born Confused desi ) who wants to sunbathe in the fields .Best of all, no one is trying to put her into the shuttlecock burqa as  her Canadian friends predict, nor is anyone shocked when she talks to her white, male friend on the phone. Most refreshingly, none of the women are being forced to marry people and their family treats them as individuals to love and cherish.j5

Armeena Rana Khan is has really improved since Bin Roye, and carries her role. I just wish someone would introduce the admittedly gorgeous ladies of Janaan to bronzer and  had slapped the Becca highlighters out of their hands . Bilal Ashraf is also competent in a difficult role, which requires him to emote a lot without the usual prop of dialogues. His role  as the sweet, kind but incredibly shy Asfandyaar is tailor made to make him the audience’s darling .To a certain extent he succeeds but seeing him give the same Main Beychara  look in every scene did get wearing. Ashraf is definitely at home on screen but he really needs to hone his acting skills to reach the next level His character was one of the backbones of the story and he fell flat now and then. The other stand outs were Usman Mukhtar as Sameer and Haniya Amir as Palwasha, who show a lot of promise. Despite her novice status Haniya really made an impression, bringing on the required  mischief and depth as need. The rest of the cast was rounded out by the always great Ajab Gul and Mishi Khan as Shireen Gul, the kind of fun aunty we all wish we had.newcomer-19-years-old-hania-amir-making-her-debut-with-film-janaan60637950_201682264054

Osman Khalid Butt has written a simple but effective story; full of witty retorts, laugh out loud scenes and all the genuine warmth of our culture and family life. Some of the jokes maybe a little too clever for the masses but it will keep international audiences more than happy. Even keeping in mind the limited resources of Pakistan’s fledgling film industry it was a little disappointing that the production values could not keep up with the script. The first twenty minutes could easily be mistaken for a drama and the overhead shots of a Hania’s Nikkah only emphasized the lack of necessary extras. This is where the director’s creativity should have come into play.

Director Azfer Jaffri’s biggest success is that he manages to keep the films momentum going so well, that viewers are able to ignore those little shortcomings. Overall he has managed to package a couple of hours of great entertainment for the multiplexes and handled the music sequences well. However he has yet to bring that creative vision that is required to be a brand name. Great directors are artists by nature, they don’t just film a story scene by scene; they must have an aesthetic sense that allows them to conceptualize the entire story in their heads, just as a writer does. Both “proposal “ scenes worked out fabulously because that imagery and depth were there, but elsewhere there were definitely some wasted opportunities.13920547_10154410874109371_3237825188329116327_o

The costumes and sets were not maximized for visual impact, and the drama like effect in the beginning could easily have been avoided by playing with the lighting and framing of many of the scenes. In fact the wonderfully original last scene was almost ruined by the clumsy framing of Bilal and Armeena’s characters. Similarly the pre interval climax is usually one of the biggest make or break moments in a movie but here it seemed completely out of the blue, perhaps because the chemistry between the romantic leads seemed flimsy at best. However what worked was the sharp, witty script, the good acting and absolutely authentic way it portrayed a more normal side of Pakistani culture so often drowned out by geopolitical realities.

I think the Pakistani public deserve way more than the slogan of “support Pakistani cinema” when the reach the movie theater. They need well made movies that they can go home, declaring they had a great “full paisa Vasool “time watching. If Pakistani film makers don’t have the budget then they should play to their other strengths like great writing, imagination and creativity.  Despite a few flaws this is exactly what Janaan has done. So go watch and enjoy!janaan-title-song-armaan-malik-janaan-mp3-song-free-download-128kbps

Janaan : 3 stars ***

Directed By : Azfer Jaffri

Written By : Osman Khalid Butt

Starring , Ali Rehman Khan ,Armeena Rana , Bilaal Ashraf ,Hania Amir ,Usman Mukhtar, Ajab Gul, Mishi Khan, Nayyaer Ejaz

Produced by : IRK ( imran Raza Kazmi , Hareem Farooq and Munir Hussain

Sadaf Haider

 

 

4 Comments »

  1. Thanks for a great review Sadaf. Always good to read your take.
    I enjoyed watching Janaan. Infact I was so ready to enjoy Janaan, that I wanted to read all the titles, intro etc. But unfortunately those passed away so quickly that I couldn’t catch them in full. I really liked Bilal Ashraf. His was such a sweet character- totally in love with it. Considering this was his first acting assignment (or am I wrong?) he did pretty well. Ali Rehman Khan too was adorable. Armeena was being Armeena. Watching this soon after “Baar baar dekho” (kabhi nahin!), I’m a li’l tired of leading ladies with accents. But I guess, script ki demand thee… I found her makeup a bit too much, same with Mishi…infact Mishi’s closeup were too distracting for me. On a morning show, the fim’s actors were commenting how long the ladies took over makeup. I can totally believe it!
    The story was good enough. I really enjoyed the v relatable humour. Direction could have been better, as you’ve mentioned. Particularly the song picturization could’ve been so much better. I love the song Janaan but I think the highs in the song were wasted while filming. The film’s story seemed to flow for the most part, a few issues here or there but all in all I had that good happy feeling at the end 🙂 OKB’s cameo was cute, Hareem’s not- just too abrupt.
    Did they show “Parchi” promo at the end in the US?

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    • Yes on all your points . Bilal was good for a novice but it was the same expression every time ..
      Yep a few missed opportunities , the director has no eye for colour or contrast that’s for sure ! As to Hareem , that made no sense what so ever ….
      Yes apparently Hareem is one of the producers so she happily announced s their next project Parchi ..

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  2. Screenplay was good but the production was very poor & that let the screenplay down. Direction was bad. Acting wise Ali Rehman & that new girl Hania were good. Bilal Ashraf needs to improve his acting & emote more. Armeena is just about ok, nothing special. I wish the direction had used the back drop of swat valley more

    Like

    • Totally agree ! They had all this scenery they needed to
      Make it a more integral part of the story . I want to be really mad at the director but he kept the story moving at least . Someone said that I didn’t mention the villain but he does the same routine in every drama too but challo overall a good watch

      Like

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