I have been itching to get back to reviewing. There were four major releases on the last Eid. Motivations however, resulted in one viewing. Then too, I was beaten to the reviewing punch. The next big release was skipped for obvious reasons. So cut to Eid Al Azha and 2 out of 3 films watched. An improved scorecard, I daresay. So without much further dilly dallying, allow me to anatomise, Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 (JPNA2).
An Heir Apparent?
There is a prevailing assumption about sequels. Sequels, regardless of quality, are always inferior to the first. But as The Godfather Part II proved, there are exceptions. On the spectrum of superior sequels, JPNA2 is more Housefull 2 than Godfather Part 2. That does it credit though. While story takes a back seat, JPNA2 blazes on with some crackling comedy and brilliant performances. My score: 7/10
A Story of Neglect (of the Story)
The back-burner placement of the story is indeed unfortunate. That, and the scarcity of Sarwat Gilani’s Gul, are really the only issues weighing down this film. The plot follows the template of the first to a tee. It starts off with a character trying to commit suicide. We are then treated to a subpar back-story to do the explaining. We get a twist or two before breaking for intermission. Post said intermission, action shifts to resolving said twist. The plot derails and swears a little before all hell sort off breaks loose rather anticlimactically in the climax.
Sarwat Gilani’s Houdini Moment
I also feel it’s criminal that Sarwat Gilani’s Gul vanished without a trace post interval. Gilani’s over-the-top portrayal of a Pashtun woman was a highlight of the first film. That is something I will also say for the first half of JPNA2. A first half, which feels like a completely separate film. The other two auxiliary leads, Uzma Khan and Mawra Hocane, were both equally disappointing. One was stoic while the other, juvenile. The remainder of the supporting cast similarly didn’t offer up much either. The soundtrack is also vert forgettable.
Thankfully, what works not only saves but propels the film, though. Though, just shy of greatness.
Ahmed Ali Butt: All Dressed Up
Firstly, I would like s standing ovation for Ahmed Ali Butt. I know I recently said in an article that he is in danger of being typecast. While I am not retracting that, I will say, that there is hope yet. He doesn’t just resort to snide remarks and gags. Butt has brilliant chemistry with most of the other leads, even the stoic ones. He also pulls off drag like nobody’s business and he owns every bit of screen time given to him.
The Shining Leads
Next, I must applaud Humayun Saeed. While he is in more danger than ever of being typecast, the fact that he doesn’t take himself seriously at all makes his performance shine! The joke’s on him. He doesn’t just know it, he owns it. Songs of a similar tune are sung here for Kubra Khan too. She lights up the screen. From the moment Saeed falls and latches onto her back to the moment she rides off with him at the end.
Vasay Chaudhry proves once again proves his competence as a comedic writer. Even if he was unable to produce compelling characters, his jokes land, mostly. The McDonald’s convince the wives scene makes a return here. It is however back with a bang, ending with a brilliant punchline, ‘Mujhe Kyun Nikala’. The social awareness does the writing credit again when Hamza Ali Abbasi makes a climactic cameo, impersonating Imran Khan. What doesn’t do credit though, is the misguided #MeToo reference.
Whether or not I’m ready to let that slide doesn’t have any bearing on the review of JPNA2 though. Vasay Chaudhry’s comic timing though, does. While he pales in comparison to Ahmed Ali Butt, he does manage to hold his own very well. The same isn’t said about Fahad Mustafa. Like a fish out of water, he is seeing floundering about for most of the film. However, considering the writing, that isn’t as glaring as he does justice to the role delegated to him.
A Legacy Created
While there is no compelling story to be found here, director Nadeem Baig, and producer Humayun Saeed do manage something rare. They create a sequel that is not only better than the original, but builds up on its legacy. That in itself, will ensure an enduring legacy. Let’s hope now, the star doesn’t turn into a cash cow.