View from Canada: Urdu film ‘Jaanan’ fails to impress at Eid


Ali Rehman Khan's performance, beautiful locations


Weak script, characterization, editing, music and direction

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Watch it for some light fun and comedy if you want to break away from typical Bollywood masala

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Janaan – The overhyped and much-awaited film from Pakistan was released across the globe on Eid Al Adha this weekend, and to a few select theatres across Toronto area.

In Canada, the film has been released as a ‘Hindi’ language film, which makes one wonder what the film producers and distributors had in mind with this marketing fiasco? The film at its best was an Urdu-Pashtun language drama, but being promoted as a Hindi language film is beyond comprehension.


Janaan (meaning beloved) has been directed by Azfar Jafri, written by Osman Khalid Butt, and co-produced by Hareem Farooq, Reham Khan, Munir Hussain and Imran Raza Kazmi under production banners of IRK Films and Munir Hussain Films – UK. The film stars Armeena Khan, Bilal Ashraf, and Ali Rehman Khan in lead roles, while Mishi Khan and Ajab Gul are seen as well after a long time.

Janaan has been released in Pakistan by ARY Films and B4U Films has distributed the film internationally.

Janaan begins in Vancouver, Canada where the main character, played by Armeena Khan, resides. She lives in a big house in Vancouver, seems like all on her own, and is planning a trip to Pakistan to attend her cousin’s wedding. Some stereotypical exchange of dialogues takes place between her and her Canadian friends who are worried for her. An initial over-acting warm up sets the tone for weak script, characterization and overall direction of the film, as is quite evident in this trailer:

Where the film falls flat?

The quality of the film seemed like an oversaturated blown up version of HD Handycam film, transformed for a big theatre screen. Cinematography was inconsistent; in some shots it was very clear there is no continuity with the overall theme of film. Perhaps it was a mix of editing mismatch and post production work that fail to provide a good cinematic experience, although there are superb outdoor locations throughout the film.

Where the film suffered most was not only poor acting especially by the lead actress Armeena Khan, but bad script and characterization made it even more of boring theatre session. Why certain characters existed in the film and for what reasons; and over all motive of the film remained unclear. Characterization was weak undoubtedly due to a weak script and screenplay, which further makes for confusing situations in the film as it shifts gears; from love triangle to the topic of child abuse.

Seems like the script writer and director wanted to touch upon several social issues in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, however with the fusion of western modern values and traditional Pakhtun traditions, the film remained incoherent. We are yet to witness mixed gender Pakhtun wedding celebrations the way this film depicts or promotes.

Music is mediocre at best and even Bollywood names like Saleem-Sulaiman, Shreya Ghoshal and Armaan Malik leave us unimpressed. Guest appearances by producer Hareem Farooq and script writer Osman Khalid Butt also fail to infuse the much-needed kick when it was needed.

This film does have its lighter moments and witty humour that left the audience burst into laughter, but incohenency is what affects the over all package.

Should I watch Jaanan?

Pakistani audiences are entertainment starved, and it is encouraging to see young Pakistanis coming forward and breaking traditional barriers that were set by ‘Lollywood’ dominated film mindset and bringing Urdu cinema back to the mainstream. Ali Rehman Khan has delivered a superb performance in the film, while Ajab Gul and Mishi Khan have done justice to their roles as well.

Yes, the film has its weak points from technical to post-production values, but it is encouraging to see Pakistani cinema lovers are coming out globally to support the young talent. It is now up to this talent how they take constructive feedback and improve further.

In Toronto, once the credits rolled, the audience did give Jaanan a big round of applause.

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