February 25, 2018, 8:22 pm

Movie review: ‘Punjab Nahi Jaungi’-

by Valeed Shahid.

Movies have always generally been divided into a few categories/genres, action, romance, comedy, horror, for example, but with time, like everything else, that has also changed. While in the earlier history of cinema, there were only a few genres to divide movies into, but eventually they went on to diversify into rom-com (romantic comedy), action-thriller, erotic-horror, chick flicks, action-comedy. Likewise, a new broad classification of movies was recently introduced (naturally), based on the supply/demand of audience taste. 

A movie that has more masala, bigger cast, eye catching locations and cheesy dialogues, is termed as a movie made for the ‘single screens’, i.e. traditional cinema halls, where mostly masses are seen. And then, there’s the second type, the movies that are made for the ‘multiplex’ audiences, largely catering to the taste of urbanised section of any region. 

Without much doubt, Punjab Nahi Jaungi easily falls into the ‘single screen’ category. From locations to language, actors to dialogues, everything about the movie makes it a more sell-able affair than most other niche-focused movies. I chose to go for the Thursday preview of the movie, and about 10-12 people were in the auditorium, so I missed out on general public reaction big time, for this massy entertainer. 

There has been unparalleled hype surrounding PNJ, given the crazy promotional activities organised by the team, starting as early as two months before the release date. Which is why the movie was bound to have a good start at the box office, which it did, but the question is, are people going to watch it again?

Fawad Khagga (Humayun Saeed) belongs to a rich landlord family, with typical socially backward mindsets, who returns to his hometown after finishing his masters, which apparently took 10 years to complete. Within the blink of an eye, we are introduced with Amal (Mehwish Hayat), who happens to be the daughter of Fawad’s really close family friends, who has just returned after completing her studies in London. In no time, very predictably, after seeing a mere photo of Amal, Fawad is head over heels in love with her. 

Like most predicable plots, she is a modern day girl, who is not interested in marrying a guy with a feudal background. Upon insistence of her family and realisation of Fawad’s love for her, Amal ends up marrying him, leaving behind her love interest, Wasay (Azfar Rehman). Basically, Fawad tells Amal specifics of the amount of money and land that is going to come her way once she is married to him, and that was pretty much the reason she agrees (at least apparently). And yes, that’s pretty much what all the movie is about. Surprised? I was too. 

From the lead pair, Mahwish Hayat and Humayun Saeed, to basic plot, everything about the movie is exactly the same as television serial, Dillagi. Both Dillagi and Punjab Nahi Jaungi have been directed by Nadeem Baig, and we don’t know why they couldn’t just make Dillagi into a movie, like the makers of Bin Roye did. Instead, they cast the same lead pair, director, and even the mother, Saba Hameed, and made it into a better looking version of the drama. I am not aware if the director took inspiration from his own previous work, or just thought it will be commercially viable to remake a television serial for the bigger screen differently, but in general, it was altogether a very mediocre move. 

The biggest problem with Pakistani movie industry, is its obsession with its own previously successful products. Jawani Phir Nahi Ani also almost had the same team, but was sure a way, way better watch. 

While Mehwish Hayat and Humayun Saeed’s long career finally saw daylight after JPNA, their star power is sure being overestimated. Leaving all else aside, till the end of the movie, I was confused as to why they chose to name it ‘Punjab Nahi Jaungi‘, and trust me I was pretty excited to find out the reason. But voila! there’s not even a single mention of Punjab in any dialogue of the movie, so even the name is pretty irrelevant. Only at one point (after interval) does a character utter the sentence, ‘Main Punjab Nahi Jaungi’, because her husband slapped her. Do you still need me to talk about the similarities between Dillagi and Punjab Nahi Jaungi? I think not. Remember the slap? We all do.

For all those who have watched Dillagi know exactly what I mean. Twisting a story won’t make the audiences forget what they’ve already seen. If you haven’t yet, watch the serial instead and save your time. I am no in no way trying to bash the movie for no reason, nor am I implying that it is the worst movie ever, it’s just that I had a lot of expectations from this one, like everyone else. 

Coming down to the performances, Humayun Saeed did impress in a few emotional scenes, as we have definitely not seen him doing those chops before, but like rest of the cast, he didn’t really have any demanding scenes/dialogues in the movie. Mehwish Hayat continues being a beautiful face and nothing more, and doesn’t surprise with anything new, be it acting or dance. Even though rest of the cast’s make up was on point, Mehwish’s look was a complete disaster. All through the movie, we see her wearing sky blue contact lenses and golden hair. Are they really trying to convince us that she’s a blonde? Bleh. Apart from that, she was seen wearing heavy makeup at all times, even when she was in her sleeping suit. *time to get a reality check*. She is a pretty girl, please don’t do this to her- ‘note to whoever created her look/make-up’.

Urwa Hocane was a breath of fresh air, amidst people with ancient acting techniques, and surprised with her effortless transformation from Meera of Udaari to Durdana of PNJ. She basically played the good ol’ vamp, but definitely a soft spoken/innocent looking version. We give Urwa full points for the originality and effortlessness that came with her short but effective character. ‘Help me Durdana (name of Urwa’s character in the movie)’, is a line that is already going viral, but you are going to find out what it means only when you watch the movie. 

Saba Hameed, Sohail Ahmad, Waseem Abbas, did a great job, as always, but that couldn’t save the movie from being a really boring ride on the whole. 

Music, clothes, locations, everything in the movie is simply beautiful, because that’s pretty much all there is. We don’t understand how the writer, Khalil Ur Rehman Qamar fell from writing something as good as Sadqay Tumhare, to Punjab Nahi Jaungi, because there’s just nothing to write, or was his name used to only add credibility to the movie?

Speaking specifically of music (by Sahir Ali Bagga, Shani Arshad & Shiraz Uppal), 24/7 was the best thing about the entire movie’s soundtrack, and Meesha Shafi’s voice was sure one of the reasons I loved the song so much. Tere Naal by Shafqat Amanat Ali is simply beautiful and transports you to another mood altogether. Shabina Khan, who has previously choreographed for JPNA, did a tremendous job and made the songs even more appealing visually.

I have one really simple question, don’t our stars (after enjoying enough stardom) feel like bringing something different to the table? Or are they just so overwhelmed by their past projects, that they won’t come out of their comfort zone and do something new/different? 




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