I enjoyed Parwaaz Hai Junoon because of the comedy and that's not okay

I enjoyed Parwaaz Hai Junoon because of the comedy and that's not okay

PHJ may leave you with renewed respect for the air force but as a film viewer, you may only truly enjoy its funny bits
25 Aug, 2018

Fighter pilots risk their lives and the happiness of their loved ones every day they go on duty. That’s a reality most people appreciate.

So when M&D Films announced that it wished to pay tribute to the Pakistan Air Force with their latest offering Parwaaz Hai Junoon, you’d expect it to do more than serve a lukewarm reminder of the debt of gratitude owed to Pakistan’s selfless defenders.

The impact of PHJ's message about the air force is diluted by preachy dialogue but it offers laughs and a somewhat dramatic love story that may prove to be memorable instead.

So what does PHJ try to tell us about the air force?

Minor spoilers ahead

In PHJ, Hamza (Hamza Ali Abbasi) is a recklessly valiant fighter pilot who falls for Sania (Hania Aamir) at the wedding of his best friend and pilot buddy Nadir (Shaz Khan). He inspires Sania to enroll in Pakistan Air Force’s cadet academy, where she meets Saad (Ahad Raza Mir) and several other trainees (played by Shafaat Ali, Sikander Vincent and Rachel Viccaji.)

The film follows Hamza and Sania’s blossoming romance as their respective air force careers progress.

Parwaaz Hai Junoon honours the air force with a story that tells the audience of the risk-laden path chosen by fighter pilots young and old.

As cadets such as Sania and Saad struggle to adjust to the rigours of air force training — the intense fitness regimes, the nerve-wrecking flight tests and a nearly fatal snow survival challenge — we see Hamza and Nadir demonstrate a willingness to put themselves in danger whenever the enemy strikes.

They are shown as unwaveringly committed to "the mission" no matter their circumstances — a new baby, a girlfriend whose mother demands they quit the air force or just the very real danger of losing their lives as Pakistan launched the deadly Zarb e Azb operation against terrorists.

Hamza Ali Abbasi as fighter pilot Hamza
Hamza Ali Abbasi as fighter pilot Hamza

And all the while, they experience love, insecurity, jealousy — the kind of regular people stuff that is usually not reflected in the personas we build up of our war heroes.

So as a film, PHF offers some fresh perspective on the air force in its attempt to humanise fighter pilots even as it reinforces the exalted status of martyred officers. The latter, however, remains the most important takeaway of the film: martyrs are immortal.

The film glosses over the messier aspects of fighter pilots' jobs: the frightening human costs of warfare, for instance, or the sociopolitical conditions that birthed “the enemy” that Hamza and Nadir so avidly fight. If PHJ presented a more nuanced view of war, it would have kept the story from playing out like a propaganda film.

The film features some real-life PAF officers
The film features some real-life PAF officers

PHJ also tries to shed light on the sexism female fighter pilots can face in the field — Sania is repeatedly bullied by Saad who doesn’t miss an opportunity to tell her that women aren’t fit for the air force.

The good news is that Saad is regularly corrected by his batchmates and Sania also bests him during lessons. The bad news is that Saad’s sexism is explained away as a symptom of young love: he simply did not know how to confess his feelings to Sania.

It’s troubling that bad behaviour towards the object of your affection (as well as other possible suitors like his batchmate Rashid) was also not criticised within the story.

Did the script do the story justice?

So how is it that a story that revolves around air force officers fails to impart a lasting message about their bravery?

While Parwaaz Hai Junoon may be watched by a sizable audience due to the crowd-pulling popularity of its actors but their performance often suffers due to forced dialogues and underwritten characters.

But first the good: It has to be said that the lighter part of the film were very effective in upping its entertainment value. The induction of the young cadets provided a lot of comic relief and comedian Shafaat Ali was well casted as the bungling Zain, whose many mess-ups are the cause of many a LOL moment. We don't even mind the sheer implausibility of his admission to any cadet college (save from a massive pawwa) because it saves the film from being a snooze for those who weren't moved by the more successful cadets' hero antics.

Shafaat Ali shone in his comedic role in the film
Shafaat Ali shone in his comedic role in the film

While the humour is well written, PHJ's scripts falters in more serious parts.

Hamza's dialogues as a star pilot often veer towards preachy and one wishes it didn't sound like he was spewing lines from a pamphlet. It kept viewers from seeing Hamza as a person they could relate to and presented him as a war hero, a character from the history books we only know through their quotes about our duty to the nation.

It doesn't get better when he's romancing Sania — most men struggle with romance in this film and Hamza doesn't have great game either. He spews bad air force puns and winks a lot but wins over Hania anyway.

It doesn't help that the film's special effects weren't up to the mark. The explosions weren't terrible but could have been more realistic and the cinematography of the air combat scenes was confusing — it was difficult to make sense of the action.

The change in chemistry between Hania Amir and Ahad Raza's characters is surprising
The change in chemistry between Hania Amir and Ahad Raza's characters is surprising

Then there are the parts of the story that aren't explained well enough. For instance, we never understand Saad's switch from angry misogynist to sincere lover-boy and how Sania forgives him for his repeated misdemeanours. But it's surprising that Sania appears to warm up to him at the first instance of better behaviour and he really doesn't have to atone for his actions.

Also, some events in the film required excessive stretches of the imagination, like the nurse holding a phone to Hamza's ear as doctors scrambled to save his life in an operation theatre and even Sania's selection in cadet college considering her physical fitness was subpar. Leaving one's American citizenship isn't exactly enough reason for admission.

PHJ may leave the audience with renewed respect for the air force but as a viewer, you may only truly enjoy its silly bits, and that's troubling for a film that's not a comedy.


Hasan Aug 25, 2018 11:34pm
Perhaps it would have been more effective had the film been set in 1965, and the opponent had been the invading hindustanis. After all, this was when the PAF earned its glorious reputation, and repelled a much larger enemy to win the war for Pakistan. Inshallah as our cinema culture develops, we'll see more tributes paid to these great institutions and the historical roles they have played in safeguarding our nation. Hasan
Omair Aug 25, 2018 11:39pm
I think we've had enough documentaries eulogizing the forces. Please stop this propaganda and tell some other stories
Ahmad Gul Kainth Aug 25, 2018 11:56pm
Good analysis
Yousefzai Aug 26, 2018 12:50am
I know images team is biased with Hamza Ali Abbasi.
Waseem, Canada Aug 26, 2018 01:30am
I saw the film last night. Apart from patriotism, it shows picturesque valleys, rivers and peaks which are a treat to watch. Wedding festival was nicely shown. Strict merit in PAF selection and training was applaudable where candidates (boys and girls) from all ethnic and social background were treated alike. Overall, I enjoyed the movie and felt happy to hear decent Urdu. I’m sick of the tapori language Bollywood is promoting for sometime.
Zak Aug 26, 2018 04:40am
It was one of the best pakistani movies i have seen after long time
hore choopo Aug 26, 2018 09:53am
@Omair Agreed.The audience want entertainment, not projections.
Zak Aug 26, 2018 01:58pm
A must see movie. It represents the fast rising Pakistan movie industry to international standards. Seeing it in a gulf city, What surprised me was the number of foreign guest viewers.
A shah Aug 26, 2018 05:37pm
Another flop
Shahbaz Ali Shueb Aug 26, 2018 07:54pm
@Omair Yeah. We can have movies on national stars such as EDHI, Jehangir Khan and so many more.
Laiba Aug 26, 2018 11:23pm
You couldn't understand the story! The movie revolves through both, the present and the Past of sania. Sania joins Air Force after the death of hamza, she gets inspired by him and then she struggles and ignore all the behaviors of saad in it!!
Dr Saleem. Canada Aug 27, 2018 01:19am
Although well picturized but lacks content in story. Instead of spending more time on romance which also lacks emotions, it would have been better and worth to show roots of terrorism with its causes and propaganda and counter from armed forces. Should have more war scenes including battlefield on ground specially when Hamza plane got crashed and he was on ground that scene could have been more better picturized and some more fighting scenes should have been added. Lastly his death scene was full of flaws. A person is dying and instead of proper resuscitation the doctors are holding phone for him. The director should have vidited a trauma centre to educate himself before showing hospital management. Overall movie was nice but could have been more better.
Anya Aug 27, 2018 12:56pm
Babur-I-Azam Aug 28, 2018 03:09am
It was a decent film with some great natural views of Pakistan. The special effects are improving, so it was a little harsh of the reporter to state otherwise. I found the flashback narrative of the story worked quite well, whilst the film lacked some of the grand scale - of across the border - however, makes up for it with the emotional substance. I find the films lacking some realism by not showing a or depicting a wider demographic of character backgrounds on screen. Yalgaar also failed to tell the story of those from the less privileged background, which results in lack of realism or depiction of the average Pakistani..
Aamer Aug 28, 2018 01:11pm
PHJ was a beautifully made romantic movie. It very touchy and even made us feel for the characters. Those who are criticizing this movie have clue. There was no comedy in this movie. Hamza, Asif Razamir and Marina khan were good as always but the star who really surprised us with her acting was Hanya Aamir who plays the main female lead. Just loved this move.
Alanore Aug 28, 2018 04:00pm
I saw all 3 Eid releases and I am very proud to say all 3 were great movies and were well made. JPNA 2 was a full entertainment with lots of comedy and nice songs. Load Wedding has a social message and a great acting from Mehwish Hayat, Fahad Mustafa, Samina Ahmad and of Corse the actor who copied Dr Amir Liaqat. But PHJ was something else totally a different kind of movie. Hania Amir was so lovely and great acting from her and entire cast.
Rawan Aug 28, 2018 06:04pm
I do not agree with this review at all...i loved it and everyone is loving the movie..and hamza nailed it...he is magnificent here.......i was never a fan of hamza but now he has won me over...he is the best of all right now
AIH Aug 30, 2018 02:55am
Poorly scripted with forced and random dialogues with no sense of timeline and characterizations. Trump was sworn in as a president in January 2017 but someone was interviewed, completed the 3-year training and won recognition within 1-1/2 year period. Obsessed with Top Gun with a motorcycle, opening scene, classroom dialogues etc. Mediocre music and background score on top of it. A complete waste of money and time.
AAK Aug 30, 2018 03:16am
@Zak Certainly, someone does not know anything about filmmaking. The timeline was completely out. Trump was sworn in as a president in January 2017 and someone was interviewed and completed the 3-year training within 1-1/2 year period and won the award on top of it. Poorly scripted, forced dialogues, mediocre music, and background score were some of the highlights of this movie. Tried to imitate Top Gun was quite obvious with the use of a bike, dialogues etc.