Did the Pakistani release John do justice to the Indie movie genre? Read on to scroll through our thoughts on the movie!
POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD….
Some budding actors and some seasoned, a carefully crafted narrative, hard hitting performances and some food for thought made for an interesting recipe! Yes, John released in cinemas this week and we went for a screening a day in advance to let you know more.
The movie John seems to be a promising watch and is has released on the 14th of July all over Pakistan. The movie casts Saleem Mairaj, Aashir Wajahat and Romaisa Khan, Faiza Gilani, Rashid Farooqui, Mohammad Ehteshamuddin, Tabish Mughal along with Raza Samo. It is produced by Fizza Khanum and written and directed by Babar Ali.
The movie is set against the hustling bustling backdrop of Karachi’s vibrancy and volatility. John delves into themes of love, life, death and violence while urging society to re think certain connotations. Promising a gripping portrayal of the city’s streets with a premise that is raw, authentic but also one that demands change, John seems to be an awakening of sorts, brought to us by a young cast to solve issues affected mostly by the youth.
First Scene Seizes Viewers
The first scene gets a hold of your attention right away. The movie begins to essay the narrative most of us may be aware of – a part of our real lives: “Halat kitnay kharab hai? Pata hai na”
The movie, right after seizing the viewer’s attention with an unexpected start, subsequently starts building interest with faint, witty humor that we for once, can’t complain was the same old. The story right in the beginning makes one think for a couple of minutes about the corrupt facets of society, the ones who safeguard us all night are the ones who end up going hungry to bed.
The scenes and narratives are rapid doses of harsh reality checks. Aashir Wajahat, Saleem Mairaj, Raza Samo and Romaisa Khan owned their performances. Aashir, truly tore down all his cool boy demeanour for his role. As the actor mentioned in a chat with us, he tried his hardest to prepare for the role which he also stated is quite the opposite to his real personality.
A New Director In Town
Babar Ali’s direction of John has cemented his name as a promising new director. His first directorial project reveals the attention to detail, dedication and the passion for his craft. The scenes run crisp and smooth at the same time…watch the movie to understand how it all comes together. Each scene blends seamlessly into another, the director makes sure the narrative is well carried through. The scenes and events, surprisingly keep the audience gripped even with the mundane, making us wait for something more.
Saleem Mairaj as Dawood Bhai is a gruelling character yet somewhere there is a ray of hope, of kindness. A seasoned actor who, till now, seemingly hadn’t got the chance to dominate the screen and shine on his own, showcasing the level of his craft to the fullest. This was his one performance among many that has given audiences a deeper preview into his stellar skills and performance. It is hoped that more of his magic is witnessed in future endeavours. His performance came straight from the heart, conveying all the right emotions.
Aashir Wajahat as John is an innocent, meek young boy belonging to the Christian faith. He embarks on a journey of struggle and darkness, but will he manage to come out a changed person? Will he be forced to make a choice between his love and life? P.S. Aashir also lends his vocals to the narrative and makes one wonder that this young talent has, quite possibly a super bright future ahead!
Aashir seems to be maintaining a subtle performance at the onset, a bit restrained, as scenes transition and the storyline progresses his acting takes on a more free flowing form and he fully owns his character.
Romaisa’s performance was very fresh and blended seamlessly with her character. Many recognize her from her TikTok fame but the actress has proven to audiences how she is not only famous for her social media presence but now, also her acting skills to vouch for future roles and opportunities. Getting to watch new faces in the industry is refreshing. Her delivery, pauses and body language all match the need of the hour and she sure had her game on point. What added some wit and humor was Raza Samo’s character, he hit all his punchlines to the tee and added a fun element to the movie. The new faces and their performances merit chances to further showcase their skills in dramas too! Simply a treat to watch!
Peek At The Story Line
The writer and director have interestingly added some humor and pranks among the mundane and dark themes to mix thigs up a bit. Saleem (Dawood Bhai) guides John (Aashir Wajahat) through the world of street crime and life.
John loses all in life and places his trust in Dawood Bhai, in the midst he finds love and life, but will his life choices let him hold onto what is dear and near? The narrative jolts one into realizing how some lives are entwined with poverty, society, violence, street crime. The movie highlights how people from different religious backgrounds are subjected to certain negative connotations and taken advantage of. How the struggle to survive blurs lines often and nothing is really black and white.
Just The Right Amount Of Sweet Romance!
What is portrayed is not just the struggles of the facets of society, the crime and violence but also a nuanced romance between Romaisa & Aashir; a sweet, slow paced friendship turns into a budding romance. The romance in between all the darkness lightens things up periodically and was just the right dose of sugar!
Credits To The Narrative’s Strength
The background score and the reactions add to the narrative’s strength to make an impact on audiences. In one instance, Aashir’s vocals in a ghazal with his on screen mother Faiza Gillani is a beautiful touch, showing a soothing, tender relationship between the mother and son. It might not be off key to mention that it’s probably the first time, some POV’s from a different religion were highlighted and lent a platform. There are some overt hints and some subliminal highlights of society’s prejudice for a certain group of people and how we might treat them.
Note: Some parts in the movie touch the gory and not for the faint hearted.
While the effort is commendable, John was a slow watch, it covered a lengthy duration and there was a point that the film lost viewers. A more crisp narrative might have helped retain viewership and engagement.
Furthermore, if one holds an avid interest in the Indie genre and Karachi based movies this watch will sit right in with them. But if not, it’s possible to wonder till when our narratives will rely on Karachi’s struggles and hopeless citizens to give cinematic stories? The film hit home with insightful messages but perhaps, one would want to watch something different, something not about big city struggles? Perhaps something uplifting, inspiring, something new? Expanding on movie themes to give viewers a wider range of stories might be something makers want to explore.
As far as the element of essaying the narrative of the Christian faith goes, it was there and it was not there at the same time, so don’t expect an in the face approach towards an outlook on the Christian faith and this could very well be just the story of the under privileged in Karachi. While it may not be the best re watch it critically sure is a good movie offering hope for the future of Pakistani cinema being in the hands of quite a talented lot.
Do you plan on watching the movie? Check out the trailer below!