There’s nothing better than being proven wrong and getting to watch a good film when the trailer suggested otherwise. When Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2’s trailer dropped, I thought it looked too confusing, as if the filmmakers were trying to do too much. Even the jokes in the trailer were distasteful, unfunny and catered to the lowest common denominator.
So, it obviously came as a pleasant surprise when the film delivered on most fronts. Directed by Nadeem Baig, the nearly three-hour film takes place three years after the original Jawani ended. After his brother-in-law Rahat (Fahad Mustafa) insists, Pervez (Ahmed Ali Butt) and Sheikh (Vasay Chaudhary) travel to Turkey with their wives Lubna (Uzma Khan) and Gul (Sarwat Gillani). Once there, the tragi-comical circumstances reunite them with the long-lost friend Sherry (Humayun Saeed) who is hell bent on suicide. The film takes us through their journey as money, love, and cross-border conflicts rise.
The greatest strength of JPNA 2 is its fast pace. The film moves like a bullet train from point A to B, never letting the audience take a breather. Given its long duration, that works in its favour. Few scenes are unnecessary, even fewer drag beyond the limit.
Pakistani filmmakers rely too much on cross-dressing, fat shaming and jokes targeting transgender. This still remains a problem that needs to be addressed. JPNA 2 doesn’t break that norm. There is a fine line between the jokes being funny and tripping over the line and becoming cringe-worthy. And as hard it is to explain the ‘line’, we have seen our filmmakers fall over before, such as in Mehrunnisa V Lub U and recently Jackpot. Vasay too trips over at times, but quickly manages to pick himself up and continue from there.
However, while I have criticized the writer on that, his brand of humour has evolved. He has developed a better grasp of story structure and how to keep a scene entertaining even if it runs too long. One particular element I’d like to see him utilize better is the transition from drama to humour and back within the scenes. As of now, the back and forth jumps between the two elements feel slightly bumpy.
Even then, JPNA 2 works so much better than most other rom-coms. And for that, the credit goes not only to the writer, but also the director and actors. In a typical rom-com, the characters barely require actors to show off their potential, and in an attempt to impress, they often over-project their intended emotions. But by refraining from exaggeration, Nadeem has maintained the authenticity of his actors’ performances.
Butt was a treat to watch. I can’t decide whether his brand of comedy has grown on me or he has done away with being annoying and actually matured. Nonetheless, Butt proves to be as essential a part of the film as Humayun and Fahad, if not more. However, I was especially impressed with Kubra Khan (who plays Humayun’s love interest) and how natural she appears on-screen. While Humayun may at times come off as bland in the film, Kubra balances the scene with a tremendous genuineness in her expressions and movement.
Fahad turns out to be a great addition to the franchise. He doesn’t exploit his role to steal everyone’s thunder but actually adds to the story. However, some of the problems the film has, specifically the length, are due to his character. Vasay spends more than needed in order to do justice to the actor (not the character). Although it gives us a few entertaining sequences, they don’t matter much in the long run.
One can argue the Pakistan-India was pointless too and only added to the film’s length. But it surely kept the film engaging. The beauty lies in constant twists and turns in the story. Under Nadeem’s direction, all the puzzle pieces came together seamlessly. And with a star-studded ensemble cast (and two applause-worthy cameos by Fawad Khan and Hamza Ali Abbasi), the film far exceeds expectations and emphatically brings the house down. It doesn’t happen often that the sequel is far better the original. And JPNA 2 has achieved that goal.
Verdict: Go watch and let the not-so-Jawan heroes teach you the meaning of Jawani in this hilarious sequel.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Note: This review was originally published in The Express Tribune. It’s only been re-published here for archival purposes.