The subtlety of Asim Raza’s coming of age emotional drama inspires one to indulge in this no-nonsense Turkish delight
The cast, crew, costumes, charm and chimes; Ho Mann Jahaan (HMJ) possessed all the ingredients for becoming a super-hit romantic drama. But then what was lacking that forced avid movie fans like me to walk out dejected and downright chagrined?
A simple, relatable theme of following your dreams, dominating parents, single parenting and religious upbringing was one facet of the movie. Between these was a web of developing romance, friendships going sour, lost love, deceptive love, jealousy, passions and careers. And all this was finally wrapped up in a love for music.
Two beautiful women of our television and film industries, Mahira Khan and Sonya Jehan, paired with two handsome hunks, alongside veterans like Bushra Ansari, Jamal Shah and Arshad Mahmood, the star cast boasted of an ideal package. It was evident from the beginning that the movie was tastefully made; with an eye for detail on interiors, simple yet chic dress sense, casual make-up and even more casual hairdos.
A modern day setting of college graduates, close friendships, troubled relationships with parents and their love for music brings the three main characters played by Mahira Khan, Adeel Hussain and Sheheryar Munawwar together. Their common passion for pursuing music knits them together and eventually breaks them apart too. As expected, Mahira Khan came out stunning while the boys, who played the roles of an obedient child and a rebel, respectively, came out well too. Sonya Jehan, on the other hand, is shown as a progressive female running an up market café. As beautiful and vibrant as she looked, her tepid acting abilities can do only so much for her.
The double standards of raising children and the narrow vision of the society concerning art and music were depicted well and brilliantly portrayed. However, the emotions of jealousy between Mahira and Adeel, and mistakenly assumed love between Sonya and Shehryar, were loosely conceived. It was left to the audience to connect the events and interpret the outcome, which they did.
Some bits of the movie, which required a decent amount of sensitivity and time, were rushed through even though the movie was three hours long. The music was very well-composed, however all the nice numbers were pushed right in the end and literally played one after the other.
What the four protagonists played out was a long serial, rather than a well-clipped, crisp feature film and that is why the audience’s interest started to wane. Instead of watching the movie, most of them were flicking through their phones, munching on extra nachos or just shifting around in their seats to kill time. Not to mention the special appearances made by an entire crusade of actors ranging from Fawad Khan, to Strings and finally to Zoheb Hassan. A change of scene and one would see a guest appearance, which left one wondering whether we had lost the plot or they had. Had they put in a little more effort on editing, the movie would have definitely been more interesting.
The highlight of the film was the song ‘Dosti’, originally sung by Nazia and Zoheb Hassan, which was played on the Coke Studio platform in the movie. The song instantly took me back to the days when we were young, with untapped passions, no career in mind and solely following what our parents thought was right for us. Despite minor flaws, this coming of age drama struck the right chords with a subtle message encouraging us to believe in ourselves, to follow our dreams and to keep in mind that at the end of the day it is our parents, genuine friendships and love that eventually make or break us.
I wrap up my HMJ review with a deceptively simple take on ‘Kisir’ which is the Turkish version of its better-known counterpart ‘Taboulleh’. Just like the simple themes of HMJ were constructed around a long journey, Kisir also uses simple ingredients but in a rather crisp way. Kisir is made from either bulgur or couscous grain and it can be used as a side dish to your lamb roast, an appetizer before your mains or a complete meal in itself on a pesky summer afternoon. Once made correctly, you can add anything and everything to the fluffed grain according to your taste. However tomato paste is a preferred staple, primarily to add colour and slight tartness to the dish. A typically authentic Kisir would also have a tablespoon or so of pomegranate molasses; since I did not have access to that I used balsamic vinegar instead. I added some chopped red onions, tomatoes, and fresh parsley (which I think is essential for a peppery kick and sensuous aroma).
Kisir is often served with freshly baked bread however I decided to serve it with fresh crisp lettuce, which plays well against the bread guilt.
½ cup couscous
½ cup boiling water
1 ½ tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. paprika powder
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt to taste
To mix in
½ cuponions (chopped)
¼ cup tomatoes (chopped)
Freshly cut parsley
Put couscous in a bowl, add tomato paste and paprika and mix well. Pour boiling water on top, stir again and leave aside for 25 minutes.
In the mean time chop the vegetables and prepare your condiments.
After 25 minutes, fluff up the boiled couscous with a fork and add balsamic vinegar and salt, mixing it well. Adjust seasoning to taste
Tip in your chopped onions, tomatoes and parsley and mix well again. Refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes and serve as desired.