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Heer Maan Ja: Do Hareem & Ali Rehman Make It Work? [Review]

No over the top romance!

Heer-Maan-Ja-review

Heer Maan Ja is coming in strong at the box-office despite going head-to-head with two other big releases Superstar and Paray Hut Love. You’ll be glad to know that Heer Maan Ja is exactly what it said it would be – a romantic-comedy with some crunchy bits in the middle.

Before, we start with our review, here’s what you can expect from the movie right off the bat. HMJ is light-hearted entertainment for the most part but it also has an important message at its core.

Rather than relying on suggestive humor as most films do (no shade to Jawani Phir Nahi Ani), HMJ is more about you (and the movie’s protagonists) having a silly-goose time.

The teaser trailer can easily throw you off about what the movie has in store. The full product turns out very differently, and in a good way.

Let’s start by breaking down the plot. Mild spoilers follow.

Plot

The film was indeed more than a runaway bride film. HMJ is more about the trend of forced marriages.

The theme of forced marriages is by no means new in Pakistani cinema. How did the writer Owais Korai Baloch manage to make this film not look anything like Khuda Kay Liye or Arranged Marriage? The answer lies in HMJ’s humor.

Heer Maan Ja trailer reveals the runaway bride part may just be an accident.

Our protagonist (Heer) is in love with her ex Kabir (Ali Rehman Khan). Things don’t go well for either of them.


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So when Kabir shows up on her wedding day, Heer gets him to help her get out of her forced marriage. Talk about sticking together through thick and thin at a whole other level. Obviously, chaos erupts from there.

Personally, it was nice to see a woman as a protagonist here, with a male lead adding to her story, rather than the other way around.

The whole concept of women being married off as deemed fit by a family regardless of what she wants is common. This is obviously a serious subject to tackle, and HMJ manages to do it so by its good use of humor.

Heer Maan Ja employs humor to highlight how regressive the concept of forced marriages are.

The theme of Heer Maan Ja is pitted in forced marriage.

One does feel that the film-makers should have done better by portraying forced marriages as being about ‘pride and honor’. They did try though, but failed to convey it in a way it could resonate with audiences.

Another minor issue HMJ has is with its use of flashbacks, which could have been an editing issue. Had these flashbacks been distributed differently, the movie would have had more finesse.

Plot wise, some loose ends were just left out. But you can always count on Pakistani movies to miraculously tie things up in the end and call it a wrap. Heer Maan Ja also employs this technique for better or worse.

Cast / Acting

The Heer Maan Ja cast was star-studded, and that might have been too much bling even for Eid.

Heer Maan Ja features Hareem Farooq as the protagonist, Heer. Her chemistry with Ali Rehman Khan’s Kabir is refreshing. The two were friends before lovers. A rare sight, given our audience usually has an eye out for over the top romance right off the bat (blame it on the SRK factor).

Apart from the leads, Pakistani movies are really going all out with cameos of late. The question we should ask is do we need a notable face, where an extra would have done the same job?

Lets take Ali Kazmi’s character for instance. There was just too much going on there.

Then there’s Ahmed Ali Akbar and we’re left wondering where was he (he’s in the movie alright, albeit in a very minor role).

Heer Maan Ja
Heer and Kabir’s relatable love story

 


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Now for the good part. The film showcases a very relatable relationship, from inside jokes to fights over pointless things. We feel that this was one of HMJ’s strengths by choosing compassion rather than passion to make the leads work. For example, Heer wants Kabir to be a gentleman, not a lad who is trying to look suave in front of his friends.

With most of the story revolving around Heer, there was adequate character development for male lead Kabir, played convincingly by Ali Rehman Khan.

Heer Maan Ja
Wajdaan, the villain in ‘Heer Maan Ja’

The antagonist Wajdaan, played by Faizan Sheikh, was not so fortunate. In a rom-com it is understandable if the supporting characters aren’t given as much of a story. The main baddie though deserves better.

Wajdaan goes from a spoiled brat with a fragile male ego into a cold callous killer.

Speaking of baddies, what was the deal with Saleem Miraj and Aamina Sheikh’s characters? They were literally hot and cold…..we mean their costumes. That was also an issue with Ali Rehman Khan’s wardrobe, as was evident with him wearing jackets while his best friend Jerry, was in a t-shirt and shorts.

Back to the bad guys (and girl), Saleem Miraj and the concept of ‘imported national criminal’ just didn’t work well. As for Aamina Sheikh’s Sabah, she was like a cheaper version of Mazikeen from Lucifer (Maze wouldn’t be pleased).

Heer Maan Ja
Amina Sheikh as a baddie in ‘Heer Maan Ja’

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We expected something new with her character but everything from her lack of a social filter and love for violence was a maze we couldn’t figure out.

Direction

A lot (if not all) of the movie was shot in Islamabad, just like Janaan and Parwaaz Hai Junoon. Unlike the others, rather than use the green city for the lush vegetation, Heer Maan Ja shows you a suburban Islamabad.

So yes there were many freeways without a traffic jam and sparsely populated public places. The way how it was depicted, we feel that was a good call on part of the director.

Unlike the usual panning on landscapes and dragged out establishing shots, director Azfar Jafri went with the basics (he went the opposite way in Janaan).

The shots were minimalist but crafty, like a tailored suit. There was a touch of naturalistic cinema. The inspiration was obvious based on how the camera angle would move between characters as though the audience were sitting at the table with them.

This did mean fewer long shots, but now the audience has a palate for short and sweet.

Conclusion

While the movie focused on the evils of forced marriage, we can’t rate a plot based on good intentions. As a whole, HMJ’s story had its heart in the right place. However, they could have conveyed it in a much better way.

The chemistry between the leads is easily the strong point for Heer Maan Ja. For once, it was relatable and not corny. We did feel that some key characters were not given attention though.

Direction, on the other hand, had that Azfar Jafri shine through and through.

So let’s just meet in the middle on this one Heer Maan Ja is as any rom-com should be – entertaining. So if you’re part of the general audience, grab your tickets and buckets of popcorn, and enjoy the ride.

 

Review Breakdown
  • Plot
  • Cast / Acting
  • Direction
3.3

Verdict - Fun for the Family!

For serious movie buffs, this movie may not have enough bite. But for general audience, Heer Man Ja is a lovable and enjoyable romp. Its rated PG so take the whole family, kick back and have a silly good time.

Written by Ummara Sheraz

Entertainment writer at ProPakistani/Lens. Occasionally dabbles in other news.

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