I had been eagerly anticipating the release of the much-hyped Pakistani film, Janaan. So when it finally aired in cinemas, I booked my ticket at the earliest opportunity. I eagerly bought popcorn and cold drinks in anticipation of two hours of pure enjoyment. And the movie certainly didn’t disappoint…much!
The premise was very interesting: a young woman, Meena (Armeena Khan) raised in Canada experiences culture shock when she returns to her ancestral home in Swat, Pakistan. With her Western accent, prim bearing and angrezi dressing, Meena stands out like a sore thumb among her rowdy, boisterous and overdramatic Pakhtun relatives. She also becomes embroiled in a love triangle with her two cousins, the charming and riotous Daniyal (Ali Rehman Khan) and the tall, brooding and ruggedly handsome Asfandyar (Bilal Ashraf).
The first half of the film is rather light, mostly scenes showing Meena getting to know her extended family. The real issues unravel during the second part, which is when humour wanes and tensions mount.
For me, the crowning glory of the film was its wit and comedy. Ali Rehman is in fine form with his clownish personality and childish jokes. His ability to throw in a flippant remark even under the most dire circumstances and dangerous situations is probably the film’s best aspect.
Armeena Khan looks a vision in colourful Pakhtun dresses. However, I thought her acting fell a bit flat and expressionless. She gave it her best shot, I doubt not, but it ended up rather dull and uninspiring. Bilal Ashraf’s acting, however, brought to mind the image of a melodramatic soap opera. Where Armeena Khan’s acting was blatantly unemotional, his was blatantly emotional!
Despite the weak acting on part of two-thirds of the star cast, the movie was a fun watch, and the stunning scenery of Swat was sheer joy to behold. Another plus point was the inclusion of Pashto dialogues to give the movie a truly traditional and Pashtun feel.
Overall, two thumbs up for the commendable effort!