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Jawani Phir Nahi Ani is probably the biggest film franchise in Pakistan. The two Naeem Baig directed films have managed to strike a chord with audiences each time on the basis of the films’ sharp script and appealing cast. The first film was comedic with just enough masala to attract Pakistani audiences and the second film is pretty identical to the original, with the DNA of the franchise remaining intact. To be clear, if you weren’t a fan of the original JPNA you certainly aren’t going to enjoy its sequel. The movie, like the first installment, is still very proud of it’s below the belt jokes and its caricature characters. But if that’s something you’re okay with — and it certainly seems to be for most Pakistanis given that Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 has become the highest grossing Pakistani film ever — then you’re going to walk out of the theatre with a smile on your face.
The best thing JPNA does is put its ensemble cast to good use, giving ample opportunities for the actors to shine. Vasay Chaudhry, Sarwat Gillani, Uzma Khan Humayun Saeed, and Ahmed Ali Butt reprise their roles from the prequel and are assisted by new cast members Mawra Hocaine, Sohail Ahmed, Kubra Khan, and Fahad Mustafa. Although the film loses some of its original cast members, the new ones sure make up for it, ramping up the comedy and drama in ways that really make JPNA 2 different from other romcoms.
The movie is filled to the brim with jokes and because the film moves at such a brisk pace the three hours pass by quite easily. That’s not to say that there aren’t scenes and arcs that could have needed trimming. Despite Vasay Chaudhry’s screenplay managing to keep things moving from the get-go, there are arcs (such as the Indo-Pak love story) that are only introduced halfway through the film and others that are resolved quite early. Because of this some of the “romances” seem rushed and undeveloped; they don’t allow the viewer to become invested in the relationships. Moreover, the insta-love stories seem hard to buy considering all of them come out of nowhere.
There are also scenes that feel more like skits and don’t seem to have any overarching impact on the film or any use whatsoever. Of course, it’s easier to ignore these problems when the movie features some hilarious cameos adding to the appeal of the movie.
The movie’s cast is really the best thing about the movie and it’s because of this very reason that a lot of the corny aspects of the film work. While the film does make the mistake of fat shaming and mocking trans people for the sake of comedy, the goofy nature of the movie makes such offenses bearable (if not entirely justifiable). The film also gives much less time to actresses, which is a real shame considering just how well Kubra Khan, Mawra Hocane and Sarwat Gilani can act.
Among the actors who do get their due, Ahmed Ali Butt steals the show being inexplicably funny. Humayun Saeed and Vasay Chaudhry put up solid performances and although the material given to Fahad Mustafa isn’t the best, he is able to bring a charm that is needed with the absence of Hamza Ali Abbasi. Where the actors go off a bit is in the drama portion of the movie, and that has more to do with the script than the movie. The movie is nearly constantly comedic but has to sober up in the last hour or so to try and deliver on the romantic drama side of the film and that is where Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 wobbles. Never quite sure how to balance the romance with the comedy, the film fumbles when it has to focus on actual plot and the story than the gags and despite Chaudhry’s script being above average he is unable to seamlessly write a film that isn’t totally a mess.
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On the plus side, the movie not only offers twice the fun as the first part, but it’s also much better made. The production has significantly improved this time around and that really gives the film the edge that it needs especially since most of the scenes are abroad. Thanks to Suleman Razzaq’s excellent cinematography, the locations in the film, Pakistan, Turkey and Dubai really shine. The soundtrack of the film isn’t great but it is among the better ones released this year.
Though far from perfect, JPNA 2 will certainly satisfy fans seeking a desi comedy that will keep them entertained. The movie’s goofiness, insanely talented ensemble cast and brilliant production make JPNA 2 one of the best films to come out in recent years.