Maan Jao Naa presents to us a rare thing in a Pakistani film: a rebellious female protagonist who knows her mind, until she is convinced by ‘love’ that she doesn’t.
The film kicks off with promise by introducing a gang of good looking and self assured millennials played by a cast of startlingly attractive actors. College student Rania (Elnaz Nourozi) fearlessly expresses her strong opinions. One of those being that marriage is an outdated social construct that is used to control women.
The film is about how she, like every woman in the world, just needs the ‘right guy’.
In Maan Jaao Naa this right guy is Faris (Adeel Chaudhry) her allegedly woke friend who she trusts enough to run away with when her family pressurizes her towards marriage. Everyone in this film works to convince Rania of how wrong she is when she attempts to stick to her beliefs. The title of the film itself a nod to the foregone conclusion that marriage no matter how undesirable to a young woman will be her eventual fate.
And so it is, a mandatory love triangle, awkward action sequence and a few random hijinks later haseena maan jaayegi – perpetuating once again the idea that “no” does not really mean “no” it is merely an invitation to try harder.
Does this mean that the film is not worth a watch? Certainly, not. Maan Jao Naa is an interesting study in the choices or lack thereof that independent women have in today’s society. I can’t help wonder at the end does Rania choose really love or does she just want everyone to stop hounding her?
The remixes of classic Pakistani film songs by Shuja Haider are reminiscent of the popular Bollywood music of the naughties and perfect for a college film that positions itself as a story as both youthful and family friendly.
Though the plot is clunky and politically problematic it is refreshing to see a new kind of story on the screen – perhaps, next time film makers make a film about savvy, urban college students they should meet a few so that the end result is less benevolent sexism ala Student of the Year and more representative of the Pakistani youth.