I was so excited when I found out Ho Mann Jahaan, was coming to our area and last weekend I took my little girl along and we went to see it. (Over the summer while in Pakistan, she went with us to see a few of the Pakistani movies that were out and knowing this would be kid-friendly too I thought it would be fun). Because of the mixed reviews I had read, I went in with low expectations and 3 hours(!) later left with a good feeling!
Since Khuda Keh Liye, there have been a number of movies made on social issues that have been absolutely amazing, the best of which include Bol and Dukhtar, there is still a place for commercial, lighter movies that can be more widely enjoyed. Movies that also stay true to Pakistani Entertainments’ roots of being family-friendly, the way Pakistan’s cinema and TV entertainment were in the old days and that we have heard about all of our lives.
(Pakistan had a flourishing cinema industry till it’s decline began in the late 70’s. Pakistani Television produced classics that are still remembered in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and has again boomed in the last decade or so)
Ho Mann Jahaan was a visual treat much like most of the movies I saw over the summer with my family. Beautifully shot, it made Karachi look picture perfect. From the beach to the Railway station scenes and the beautiful tree lined roads as the characters sped on that scooter with the pop of red helmets! I loved the styling, from the bohemian inspired interiors especially the house belonging to Mahira‘s character layered with beautiful art and textures (I saw Khaadi’s name in the sponsors and their presence really stood out) and well as the beautiful rooftop scenes were such a treat to watch!
But then most of the recent movies have been really pleasing on the eyes (including this and this) and I liked this one a little better because despite the simple story that it was, it tried to convey a few messages in a non-preachy kind of way. The underlying message of letting our children dream their own dreams is an important one for our culture, where wanting to be an artist of any kind is seldom encouraged by the parents whether they belong to any class of the society.
I liked that the main focus of the movie was the friendship between the three characters and because of the chemistry between the characters, it was very relatable. I loved each of the parent-child relationship that was shown and how each had glimpses of so many Pakistani parent-child relationships. Like the dad who spends his lifetime’s earnings to send his son to a top university because he himself was never able to. And the parents who emotionally manipulate their son because they think they’re doing what’s best for him by not letting him pursue his dream of becoming a musician.
The music was a big plus for the movie. I like how our movies are not trying to do ‘filmy’ songs and instead giving us such a beautiful variety of a soundtrack to remember for years to come. Over all for me, it was a simple, feel-good kind of a movie that was not perfect but enjoyable.
I do feel that they could’ve done better in many ways, specially a stronger story-line, and better editing. I know Bollywood does movies of that length but I really feel 3 hours is just too long to enjoy a movie.
There’s also something else that makes me excited about this revival of cinema. You know how because of Hollywood as well as American TV shows that are literally watched all over the world, American culture is not that much of a mystery to people who’ve never even been to the States. In an ideal picture in my head, one day Pakistani cinema like this might find a way in the Foreign movies category on Netflix and those people who only get to see Pakistan when it happens to appear in shows like Homeland, will be able to experience a first-hand version of it. Thoughtfully made cinema can tell you so much about a culture, the good, the bad, the thinking, the relationships, the expectations, the lives, the hardships, the people and maybe giving others a better understanding and hence maybe more empathy? Art has a huge quality to be able to connect worlds and to bring together people in ways that politics never can and I would hope one day in the future, Pakistani cinema could bridge the gap. As my daughter grows up American with Pakistani roots in a world that tells you there is so much negative about that part of the world, I hope Anya is always able to see the other side. Maybe one day cinema from Pakistan will help her connect to us, our culture and where we come from a little better. Maybe through them, our kids will know us a little bit better!
And for all of these reasons I feel so passionately about supporting the movies that are coming out, and despite the many flaws just making an effort to go see them! I have been a little put off by some of the movies that I saw in the last year but it feels like since the revival of Pakistani cinema of the last 2 years, we are slowly heading towards our own niche. One where we are not trying to be like Bollywood, and instead merging the strengths of our flourishing music and TV drama industry and using it to give our cinema a beautiful feel!
Have you seen Ho Mann Jahaan yet? What did you think?