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Original phir nahi ani

The releases lined up on Eid-ul-Azha were significantly better on paper as compared to what was on offer at Eid-ul-Fitr. However, given the string of disasters that Lollywood served two months ago, better was hardly much encouragement for potential cinemagoers.

Each of the three films out this month – Parwaaz Hai Junoon, Load Wedding, and Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 – had the potential of being better than the best of four movies that came out on Eid-ul-Fitr, which all things accounted for was 7 Din Mohabbat In.

JPNA 2 was the biggest of the releases on paper, given the fact that the original had been the highest grossing film in Lollywood history.

Then the film’s trailer came out and the film appeared to be an attempt to cash in on the success of the original, by churning out virtually the same movie all over again.

Thankfully, that is not what JPNA 2 turns out to be. What it does turn out to be is a film that uses the strengths laid out by the first, and builds on it to package an entertainer that takes it all up a notch.

Yes, JPNA 2 is a continuation of the first but it is not a half-hearted replica of the same. Hence, while the brand remains the same, it’s a new product that is designed for those that enjoyed the first. And considering the numbers that JPNA posted at the box office, it has a pretty large audience to fall back to.

Sherry (Humayun Saeed) hasn’t beein in touch with his friends Pervez (Ahmad Ali Butt) and Sheikh (Vasay Chaudhry) in the last three years, after moving abroad with his wife Marina (Mehwish Hayat) with whom he fell in love with in the original.

A prominent feature in the sequel is Fahad Mustafa, who plays Rahat – Pervez’s brother-in-law. Rahat plans a trip to Turkey asking Pervez and Sheikh to jump aboard, along with their wives Lubna (Uzma Khan) and Gul (Sarwat Gillani).

Sherry is also there and is suicidal. Also present are Zoe (Mawra Hocane) who Rahat wants to get married to. Then there happens to be an Indian ambassador and a world renowned fashion designer, all thrown in the cauldron to optimise both the comic ingredients and the dramatisation.

How all these characters are related, and how events throw them in front of one another, is for you to go and check out. And of course while there aren’t too many twists – other than a cameo or two that you should be looking forward to – just like the original, JPNA 2 banks on its own plot to derive the entertainment value.

Let’s throw the obvious off the table first, JPNA 2 has its baggage of political incorrectness, which stems from the original. The sequel, arguably, has it in smaller dose but a few one-liners and comic situations would come across as crass.

Yes, there are certain phobias that have been inherent to Pakistani comedy over the years, and yes indeed they need to be called out, but the JPNA franchise seems to be heading in the right direction in minimising the share of problematic jokes, which hopefully in the years to come would be further reduced.

Having said that, the brand of comedy that the film espouses hovers around the line – when it isn’t crossing it. Hence, if this brand of humour doesn’t work for you, you’ll probably find the entire film to be a self-imploding catastrophe.

The good news here of course is that being a sequel JPNA 2 gives an idea of what to expect through the original, watching which – or reviews of which – not to mention the trailer – could suffice in giving you an idea of whether the film falls into your taste.

Should the franchise pass that litmus test, JPNA 2 is absolutely worth the money. For, not only is writing better than the first, the performances have lifted the film up as well.

Fahad Mustafa’s addition is clearly felt in the sequel, and he carries out his role without hogging the screen time. The film lives up to its billing of being a story about a bunch of friends, and the sequel – more so than the original – seems to have spread out the parts more evenly, even if focus on certain events and characters extends slightly more than others.

Ahmed Ali Butt is quite often the star of the show, and has probably given the performance of his life in JPNA 2. Vasay Chaudhry is completely and knows perfectly well which lines and situations to keep for himself being the writer of the film as well.

Humayun Saeed does what he has been doing for years, which in recent times has given him and the film industry the biggest blockbusters. While there has been criticism on him for playing youngish roles that haven’t suited him – what better actor to lead a film about middle-aged men vying to dig out their jawani.

The female leads have limited roles as one would unfortunately expect in the franchise that JPNA has created. But each of them has their moments to shine, and they all play their part in making JPNA 2 the inevitable success that it is turning out to be.

Credit here of course should go to Nadeem Baig as well. He knows exactly what the film wants to do, and makes sure it achieves it. In accommodating multiple factors, however, he might’ve compromised on the sharpness and editing, but the final product delivers many right punches, even when it seems to miss out on a few others.

Once a sequel turns out to be better than the original the franchise truly finds its feet. That means there are many more where this one came from. And thankfully, it seems as though the franchise wont’ be churning out mediocre copies of the original.

K K Shahid

The writer is a member of staff

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