What happens when a film crams drugs, marital problems, lost lovers, catty friends, a witch and a 'supposedly' gay friend in its mix?
Well, you get a lost plot, a confused audience and laughter during a death scene.
Thora Jee Le is a film about six friends, Party (Bilal Abbas), Andy (Salman Faisal), Misha (Ramsha Khan), Bahaar (Fatima Shah Jillani), TC (Kasim Khan) and Kaizaad (Rizwan Ali Jaffri) who reunite after Party ODs on drugs and lands in the hospital.
(Spoilers) The friends plan a road trip to help him recover, which turns into a disaster and they end up losing contact again. They reunite at Bahaar's engagement party, which also becomes a nightmare as Party ODs and dies.
Director Rafay Rashidi's debut film was meant to convey positive, progressive messages for Pakistani youth, but Thora Jee Le neither reflects positive relationships nor is 'heartwarming' or a story that 'a lot of people will relate to.' It desperately tries to put across a message of long-lasting friendships and love but ends up contradicting itself. The message is totally lost on the audience.
Though the film is not what it touts to be, there are a few things we did walk away with. Here are 6 lessons Thora Jee Le taught us:
Lesson #1: Don't stereotype the gay community.
During a game of truth and dare, TC asks his friend Andy, "Are you gay?"
After a brief war of words, Andy responds with a 'no' to clarify the misconceptions his friends harboured since university.
Ironically, though, if one is to go by stereotypes associated with the gay community, Andy didn't come across as one. Rather, he comes off as crazy -- in a twisted, annoying, get-out-of-here way. So TC's question catches one off-guard.
Then one wonders, how exactly did Andy seem gay in the film? Is it because he gave his friend Party mouth-to-mouth when he had ODed and the group seemed disturbed by the thought? Or when a policeman inquired about the cricket balls in Andy's car and he replied, "Mujhay ball sey kheylnay sey maza ata hai" (I enjoy playing with balls)? Or when the policeman harassed him and forced him to dance like a monkey? Or the fact that Andy makes nonsensical and absurd facial expressions?
Suggesting that Andy is gay shows that the film misconceives the gay community and mocks them in a way that can only be defined as crass. It only gets points for lack of sensitivity.
Lesson #2: Don't guilt trip your friend with a drug problem.
Drugs are not a joke. A drug addiction is not a joke. And someone battling drug addiction is not messing about. Yet Party's friends fail to understand this throughout the course of the film.
Each time Party's friends catch him with drugs, they lose their temper and subject him to verbal attacks.
From "we're all doing you a favour" to "I've left my husband and daughter at home for you" (referring to the road-trip), Party is forced to be on the defensive as the other five neglect to see the struggle he's dealing with and make it about themselves and their problems.
This also highlights two vital points which the film misses entirely:
a) Drug addiction is portrayed as something that can be overcome overnight/ through a road trip/ a reunion.
b) Friends don't minimise another friend's drug addiction by making it about themselves.
Lesson #3: Don't stay in an emotionally and mentally draining relationship.
A woman is married to a man who emotionally abuses her every day, insinuates that her friend has feelings for her, publicly accuses her of cheating on him and he is also the reason her friend commits suicide.
In this case, it's Misha, someone who struggles to keep her marriage afloat though she's dealing with an 'insecure' husband. The couple has a shaky relationship, one in which the two are not happy with each other.
(Spoiler) Possibly the worst turning point in their marriage is when Azaad falsely accuses Misha of cheating on him with Kaizaad at Bahaar's engagement party. He is also the reason Party ODs on drugs and dies the same night. However, even through all this, Misha chooses to stay with him and is seen carrying their second child towards the end of the film.
Their marriage does not display a positive relationship, instead depicts women as the weaker sex who can't break free of an unhappy marriage.
Lesson #4: Don't dispose of drugs like fairy dust.
This film trivialises drug abuse to a worrying extent, one example being disposing of drugs.
Two instances highlight this: One is when Party is forced to hand his cocaine to Misha, who makes her way to Kaizaad's indoor pool and disposes the stash by sprinkling it in the water.
Another is when Andy snatches Party's drugs and threatens to throw it all in the river, however, on an impulse, scatters everything in the air.
Usually, in the case of illicit drugs, you can either incinerate the stash or mix the powder in water and drain it down a sink or put it in a ziplock bag, mix it with cat litter and throw it out with the trash -- in all three cases you're omitting the chances of someone else finding the drug and using it.
Lesson #5: Don't set your ex-lover up with your best friend.
Losing your highschool sweetheart is painful; however, hoping to cure his suffering by pairing him up with your best friend is a no-no.
Misha and Kaizaad were depicted as lovers in school, but Misha married Azaad after her graduation. Fast forward seven years, Kaizaad is still hung up over Misha and can't seem to let go of his feelings for her.
During their road trip at the farmhouse, when Kaizaad confesses his love for Misha, she instinctively lashes out at him and tells him she was instead trying to work things between him and Bahaar so that the two could get together.
One doesn't set anybody up without the consent and involvement of both parties. Plus, best friend and ex? That's a recipe for disaster.
Lesson #6: Don't be sexist.
A man who is emotionally connected with his feelings is a man. Period.
And lines like "Tu larkiyon ki tarhan kya rota rehta hai" (why're you always crying like a girl) should have been disposed off long before we hit the 21st century.
Let's ditch the sexism and allow men and women to feel as they like, be who they like and act how they like. We should be weary of all sexist attitudes, it's definitely not becoming of a "positive, progressive Pakistan."
In conclusion, Thora Jee Le fails on numerous grounds to retain and grip the audience or send out a positive message owing to its weak plot and script. There is no cohesion in the storyline or scenes, the acting is wooden at best and in some cases overdone and the editing is choppy with unforgivable sound design.
If anything, Thora Jee Le is more focused towards drug abuse and doesn't manage to address the issue properly either.
We're still trying to grasp how the film tells the audience to thora jee le, because it's actually the very antithesis of it.