By: Niala Mohammad Khalil
“Jaanan” is a 2016 Pakistani romantic comedy film which revolves around a Pashtun family from Swat.
The film was directed by Azfar Jafri, written by Osman Khalid Butt, and co-produced by Hareem Farooq, Reham Khan, Munir Hussain and Imran Raza Kazmi. The film stars Armeena Khan, Bilal Ashraf, and Ali Rehman Khan in lead roles. It also stars seasoned Pashtun cinema actors such as Ajab Gul and Nausaaba.
The movie shattered several negative stereotypes associated with Pashtuns and was perhaps the first movie in Pakistani cinema that depicts Pashtuns in a positive and progressive light. The movie shows Pashtuns as educated, non-violent, modern, and classy. This is a refreshing change considering Pashtuns have continuously been depicted as uneducated, aggressive, and backwards in Lollywood.
Although the movie is light-hearted, the script-writer touched upon heavy social issues such as education, and child sexual abuse. The female characters in the storyline are showed as strong and independent not oppressed.
Critics of Reham Khan and the film claim that the movie “doesn’t paint an accurate picture of Swat” and have referred to the movie as a “waste”. However others consider it “a must see film”. Rozina Khan, an audience member, told VOA Deewa, “Jaanan, finally shows Pashtuns in a proper manner. I brought my daughter with me to show her the softer side of Pashtun culture.”
The visuals and aesthetics were beautiful and the costume design was impeccable. Another audience member Esha said, “I want to go to Swat after seeing this movie.”
Although the main characters were not fluent in Pashto they tried their very best to incorporate Pashto words in their dialogue. You have to appreciate the use of the extensive Pashto language, the comedy and the incorporation of Ghani Khan’s poetry used in the song “Reidi Gul”.
Ali Rehman Khan, undoubtedly takes the cake for his role in “Jaanan”. But for Pashtuns, the highlight of the movie was Naushaaba, who plays the “grandmother” of the Khan family. Her comedic disdain for her granddaughter’s Punjabi fiancé is an epic twist on the usual dig against Pashtuns.