JPNA 2 is one of those movies that are mass-appeal entertainers that you can probably enjoy with a bunch of friends and don’t have to invest in emotionally to enjoy the movie experience. Perhaps this is exactly where I went wrong because after the first movie of the series, I went in with expectations from it. And I was wrong. While it is probably the most funny movie of this year, it has some regressive tropes and potions of dogmatic notions that one would hope that we start moving away from. From a movie of this stature, one expects a bit more than a middling storyline, vibrant aesthetics and pleasing landscapes because I felt they were distractions from the actual story that was a bit hollow for my personal taste.
‘JPNA 2’ focuses on Humayun Saeed as the suicidal Sherry, who decides to live again after falling in love with Celina (Kubra Khan). He enlists help from his boys Fahad Mustafa, Ahmed Ali Butt, and Vasay Chaudhry because surprise surprise, Celina’s getting married to someone else in 10 days. The storyline was a safe experience, one that the audience has seen in previous avatars repeatedly. It had all the ingredients of your usual masala entertainer and despite an overarching grandness of locations (Turkey mostly, with sumptuous palaces and an avid display of grandeur), the cheesy dialogue, dirty jokes and the unrealistic depiction of Pakistani diaspora proved far too painful to ignore.
A breath of fresh air came at momentary intervals when we got to see Humayun and Ahmed’s comical brilliance – something I truly wish they played on more. There was a brief point where Humayun leans into Ahmed, stroking his face against his cheek in a hilariously improvised shot; I found myself laughing hysterically. Another shortly followed where suicidal Humayun is wobbling off on a window sill and Ahmed is trying to catch him. However, these moments of relief weren’t enough, and one wished they played more with the humor because that’s clearly where the writers’ and filmmakers’ strengths were, as those scenes stood out to me, as an audience member.
The female protagonists were given less meaty material to work with, perched on the film’s mantlepiece while their male counterparts were given far more leeway to showcase their acting skills. The women were not fortunate enough to be granted substance, in particular, Celina who couldn’t stand up to her fanatic Nawab of a father for her love for Sherry; she was foolish, spineless and played into the stereotype of daughters blindly allowing their misogynistic fathers to puppeteer their lives.
The love story between Sherry and Celina was rushed and left little room for indulgence – the more serious scenes where Sherry was determined to win Celina were thus irrelevant. Small digs at the transgender community throughout the film were not helping in changing the views regarding this ostracized community.
It’s become a battle for Pakistani filmmakers to hone a fine line between creating mass-appealing content that has to find a balance between entertainment and masala with a brain; the latter is a struggle, so most filmmakers opt for the former – it’s the easy way out. Because I love Humayun Saeed in particular, I expected a little more than just entertainment from this movie. A little heart, like the classic romantic Humayun Saeed, wouldn’t have been bad.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on the hashtag #HeToo reference made.
Have you seen ‘JPNA 2?’ What are your thoughts on the film?