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DESTINATIONS X JPNA2FEATUREDISSUE 18

Three’s a Crowd Pleaser

Ahmad Ali Butt, Vasay Chaudhry, and Humayun Saeed were uncontrollably hilarious in Jawani Phir Nahi Ani, breaking box office records in 2015, and they are all set to resume their run with the sequel three years on. The trio will be back to their mischievous best when they are joined by Fahad Mustafa in ARY Films’ much-awaited JPNA 2, produced by Humayun Saeed and written by Vasay Chaudhry out this Eid-ul Azha. Omair Alavi sits down with the three ‘boys’ for a conversation that started with a smile and ended with a laugh. Excerpts:

Photo by Jaffer Hasan

How different is JPNA 2 from the first part?

Humayun Saeed: I will answer that since I am the producer of the franchise (smiles). The sequel to JPNA is going to be much bigger than the original film because we have a direction here. The previous one was a situational comedy where things revolved around the 4 friends whereas this one is a proper romantic comedy where things revolve around two nations. Since Nadeem and I were making a return to comedy after doing Punjab Nahi Jaungi, we wanted to add a new dimension to the film and instead of it being a mindless flick, we have given it a proper story.

Vasay Chaudhry: I think I should have answered that as I am the writer of the franchise. JPNA 2 is different from the first part in terms of the motivation for the story. In the previous one, three married friends were taken to Thailand by their fourth ‘bachelor’ friend whereas this time the motivation is not to spend some time away from their families. You have to watch the film to know what the motivation is!

Ahmad Ali Butt: I was part of two of the most successful Pakistani flicks, I should have answered that first! It is not that much different if you ask me since it takes place three years after the events of the first film. Yes, it is much bigger than JPNA 1, has a bigger cast, better locations, the scale is grand and people will love the surroundings we have shot at!

There are two other films releasing on Eid, one starring Fahad Mustafa and the other Hamza Ali Abbasi; what do you have to say about the competition?

HS: It is a good thing that three Pakistani films will be released this Eid but trust me, it would have been better had the third film been a small banner film instead of Parwaaz Hai Junoon. Ours is a developing industry that will not be able to do justice to as many as 3 big banner films. Although it’s not a race where one film will win and the other two won’t, if you think logically, we have made it into a race ourselves. We were the first ones to announce the date last year after which Nabeel-Fizza came out with the same release date for Load Wedding. Two films can do good business in our small market but the entry of the third one is too much as it will not only damage the other films’ business but also hit their own. On one hand, I pray that all three films do maximum business whereas, on the other, I wish our filmmakers develop a business sense so that they know how to maximize profits.

VC: The competition is always there and I have never been afraid of that; in terms of economics it will be a big blow to the industry because it has the capacity of just two films. We simply don’t have the market for a third big-budget film and it would have been better had it been released sometime later so all three could have benefitted.

AAB: To release 3 major films on Eid is a stupid decision, simple; you can’t release three of the year’s biggest films on one day as it gives the impression of insecurity to the audience both at home and abroad. But then, everyone wants to make as much money as possible during the long weekend of Eid. JPNA 2 and Load Wedding were always there as Eid-ul Azha releases and it would have been great had it stayed that way. 

What are your expectations from the sequel to a film that managed to break records internationally?

HS: I am hopeful that the audience that showered us with love and praise after JPNA and PNJ will be entertained this time as well. I would take this chance to clarify one thing though – we have not taken Mehwish Hayat, Sohai Ali Abro, Javed Sheikh or Ismail Tara in the sequel deliberately because the story continues from the first part and they couldn’t feature in the ‘three years later’ scenario. The ‘boys’ play an integral part in the plot, hence they are retained (except for Hamza Ali Abbasi), with the inclusion of Fahad Mustafa; I hope it raises the bar and smashes records like the last film.

VC: I hope it entertains people, makes them laugh and have a good time. If the audience gets entertained, my work is done although people (read bloggers and critics) want every film to have a message for some reason. For me, the aim is to come up with something that the audience remembers rather than preaching and it will be a win-win for me if they exit the theatre laughing their hearts out!

AAB: When I did my first film Jawani Phir Nahi Ani, I had no idea that it will go on to do so well and same was the case with Punjab Nahi Jaungi, which did even better. When you accept a script, you want it to be a good one that entertains the audience and recovers the money that has been put into making it. This time everyone is excited about the film including the cast and the crew because this film comes after two huge hits from the same team. I am actually hoping that it will break records as it has better music, better action, better sequences and better production values than the previous one.

Photo by Abdullah Haris

The Indo-Pak angle is prominent in the trailer; what made you come up with that?

VC: When we were assembling the story, I thought we should come up with something that is difficult and that’s when we stumbled on the Indo-Pakistan angle. In the initial stages, we even planned to shoot the film in India but that couldn’t happen given the political scenario of the last 2 years. Hence, the idea we came up with turned out to be much, much bigger than the last one and on the whole, it will come out as something that hasn’t been done before at this level.

How was it acting opposite Fahad Mustafa in place of Hamza Ali Abbasi?

HS: I have known Fahad for a long time and he is a great actor and friend. He is one of those people who listen to the producer and is understanding, which is a quality not many actors possess. He always had the potential to do well in films and after Na Maloom Afraad, he has become a star that we all admire. He also has a huge fan following due to his game show and I am hopeful that people will love his acting in the film as well.

AAB: Hamza was an integral part of the first film but we were mentally prepared that he wasn’t going to be the part of the second one. As for Fahad Mustafa, he brings a different element onto the screen. Both have their own flavours so yes, all of us had fun working with Fahad this time around. Vasay (the writer) knows which actor he wants to cast in a certain role and I am sure that when the film is released, people will love Fahad Mustafa’s character.

Vasay, you’ve written the film as well as acted in it – doesn’t that take a toll?

VC: I have been doing that for some time now although I find the writing part very difficult and the acting part, fun. This time, it was extra difficult for some reason and took a lot of time as a writer despite it being my third film with Humayun (after Main Hoon Shahid Afridi and Jawani Phir Nahi Ani).

It seems most of the film has been shot abroad; what made you go grand this time?

HS: We have shot the film in three countries including Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Pakistan but trust me, we didn’t do it to appear grand but because that was the requirement of the story. Yes, it was expensive to take the crew to so many different places but had more countries been part of the story, we would have gone there as well.

Kubra Khan, who plays your love interest, is making a comeback to films after 5 years; how was the experience of working with the wild side of the Sang-e-Mar Mar girl?

HS: In the last couple of years, Kubra Khan has emerged as one of the better actresses in our TV industry and the kind of role we had in JPNA 2, she seemed the perfect choice for it. It was good to work with this untapped side of Kubra that filled the requirement of a foreign-educated girl who enjoys her life to the fullest. She is growing into a prominent actress and the role in JPNA 2 will turn out to be a benchmark for others to follow.

Ahmed, you seemed to have lost weight and gotten clean-shaven during the film; was it the requirement of the role or just a coincidence?

AAB: When we did the first JPNA, the director Nadeem Baig wanted me to look heavy as it was what the role demanded. However, before we began shooting for the sequel, we had decided that Shafiq Ahmed will be a fitter person this time around and for that, I trained hard and lost weight to get in shape. As for the clean-shaved sequence, that was done because it was the requirement of the character and you will have to see the film to know why!

How different is JPNA 2 from the first part?

Humayun Saeed: I will answer that since I am the producer of the franchise (smiles). The sequel to JPNA is going to be much bigger than the original film because we have a direction here. The previous one was a situational comedy where things revolved around the 4 friends whereas this one is a proper romantic comedy where things revolve around two nations. Since Nadeem and I were making a return to comedy after doing Punjab Nahi Jaungi, we wanted to add a new dimension to the film and instead of it being a mindless flick, we have given it a proper story.

Vasay Chaudhry: I think I should have answered that as I am the writer of the franchise. JPNA 2 is different from the first part in terms of the motivation for the story. In the previous one, three married friends were taken to Thailand by their fourth ‘bachelor’ friend whereas this time the motivation is not to spend some time away from their families. You have to watch the film to know what the motivation is!

Ahmad Ali Butt: I was part of two of the most successful Pakistani flicks, I should have answered that first! It is not that much different if you ask me since it takes place three years after the events of the first film. Yes, it is much bigger than JPNA 1, has a bigger cast, better locations, the scale is grand and people will love the surroundings we have shot at!

Photo by Jaffer Hasan

There are two other films releasing on Eid, one starring Fahad Mustafa and the other Hamza Ali Abbasi; what do you have to say about the competition?

HS: It is a good thing that three Pakistani films will be released this Eid but trust me, it would have been better had the third film been a small banner film instead of Parwaaz Hai Junoon. Ours is a developing industry that will not be able to do justice to as many as 3 big banner films. Although it’s not a race where one film will win and the other two won’t, if you think logically, we have made it into a race ourselves. We were the first ones to announce the date last year after which Nabeel-Fizza came out with the same release date for Load Wedding. Two films can do good business in our small market but the entry of the third one is too much as it will not only damage the other films’ business but also hit their own. On one hand, I pray that all three films do maximum business whereas, on the other, I wish our filmmakers develop a business sense so that they know how to maximize profits.

VC: The competition is always there and I have never been afraid of that; in terms of economics it will be a big blow to the industry because it has the capacity of just two films. We simply don’t have the market for a third big-budget film and it would have been better had it been released sometime later so all three could have benefitted.

AAB: To release 3 major films on Eid is a stupid decision, simple; you can’t release three of the year’s biggest films on one day as it gives the impression of insecurity to the audience both at home and abroad. But then, everyone wants to make as much money as possible during the long weekend of Eid. JPNA 2 and Load Wedding were always there as Eid-ul Azha releases and it would have been great had it stayed that way. 

What are your expectations from the sequel to a film that managed to break records internationally?

HS: I am hopeful that the audience that showered us with love and praise after JPNA and PNJ will be entertained this time as well. I would take this chance to clarify one thing though – we have not taken Mehwish Hayat, Sohai Ali Abro, Javed Sheikh or Ismail Tara in the sequel deliberately because the story continues from the first part and they couldn’t feature in the ‘three years later’ scenario. The ‘boys’ play an integral part in the plot, hence they are retained (except for Hamza Ali Abbasi), with the inclusion of Fahad Mustafa; I hope it raises the bar and smashes records like the last film.

VC: I hope it entertains people, makes them laugh and have a good time. If the audience gets entertained, my work is done although people (read bloggers and critics) want every film to have a message for some reason. For me, the aim is to come up with something that the audience remembers rather than preaching and it will be a win-win for me if they exit the theatre laughing their hearts out!

AAB: When I did my first film Jawani Phir Nahi Ani, I had no idea that it will go on to do so well and same was the case with Punjab Nahi Jaungi, which did even better. When you accept a script, you want it to be a good one that entertains the audience and recovers the money that has been put into making it. This time everyone is excited about the film including the cast and the crew because this film comes after two huge hits from the same team. I am actually hoping that it will break records as it has better music, better action, better sequences and better production values than the previous one.

Omair Alavi
Omair Alavi has been writing for different publications since the ‘90s. A bookworm and superhero fanatic (DC Universe bias declared!), he loves to watch, talk and explore films. He also follows hockey, tennis and cricket religiously, and in that order. He can be contacted at omair78@gmail.com

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