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Misogyny and sleaze — how JPNA heralds a ‘naya’ Pakistan


Since its release, Jawani Phir Nahi Aani (JPNA) has broken several box office records. Momentarily disengaging from intellectualising; isn’t it nice that a Pakistani film came out, and South Asians from all across the planet are loving it?

Men, women, filmmakers, filmgoers, Lollywood, Bollywood – just positivity all around with just a bit of the usual controversy. It’s just nice to know that can still happen.

Now, with that out of the way, on to the intellectualising bit.

It’s 2015. It’s not unheard of for women to have careers, be the sole breadwinners, stay out all night partying, or choose a one-night stand over commitment.

Before you come at me wielding pitchforks, hear me out.

Pakistanis are one of Bollywood’s largest consumer markets. And what does our mass audience want? Looking at the films from across the border that have done well at our box offices, it seems that Pakistanis are okay with and routinely watch sexually charged rom-coms, laden with onscreen chemistry and item numbers, which Bollywood so notoriously is able to churn out on an annual, grand scale.

So control your pitchforks, fatwas, and moral grandstanding and accept that films like JPNA are the ‘naya Pakistan’.

But, if you must, like the average Pakistani consumer, find something to be outraged over, then join me in redirecting your frustrations towards something that is far more subversive and damaging to our film industry than a Lollywood film that is ‘too liberal’.

The only real injustice the creators and cast of JPNA have committed upon us, the audience, is belittling our sensibilities by subjecting us to three hours of the overdone mantra of ‘sex sells’ and an overdrawn film plot premised on misogynistic practices.

I’m not offended because I’m having a kneejerk reaction to sexism and misogyny. I’m offended because that dynamic is so tired.

And, no, you no longer get a cop out with the rundown excuse of ‘this is what audiences expect’ because that is simply and demonstrably untrue.

Women like Aisha Khan, Mehwish Hayat, Sarwat Gillani, Uzma Khan and Sohai Ali are talented forces of nature and powerhouses in their own right

Pigeonholing these women, who act as role models and inspiration for women like me nationwide, into the ‘dressed up in designer wear, dull, dissatisfying and distracted wife’ trope not only second guesses their abilities as talented, veteran actresses of the industry, but unapologetically erodes at an already fragile state of womanhood in a society that remains shamefully patriarchal.

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