Cinema has many categories and genres – there’s comedy, romance, action, thrillers, mysteries, dramedies, romantic comedies, romantic action drama thrillers – but in our part of the world, we have a unique category to our political and social expectations: military blockbusters. Films like ‘Border’, ‘Mission Kashmir’, ‘LOC Kargil’, ‘Ghazi Attack’ mand now ‘Paltan’ have been made on the other side of the line of control and ever since Pakistani cinema’s revival, Lollywood has made films like ‘Waar’, ‘Yalghaar’, ‘O21’ and now ‘Parwaz Hai Junoon’. While war films should essentially be focusing on the human loss and the failure of diplomacy when it comes to choosing violent means to settle matters, war films in South Asia have become more of jingoistic methods of creating mass audience appeal. War films in our part of the world have become celebrations and tributes to the armed forces and their valor. Armed with good looking people like Hamza Ali Abbasi, Shaz Khan, Ahad Raza Mir and Hania Aamir, and mixed with plenty of patriotic sermons on sacrifice, bravery and killing the enemy, lot of scenic locations, excellent CGI and action-packed fights between airborne fighter jets, ‘Parwaz Hai Junoon’ smartly hits the right notes for Pakistani audiences that will rake in plenty of rupees for the filmmakers. Whether or not these stories are logical or consistent, is another story altogether. The story is non linear and it grapples with consistency. In the film, Hamza (Hamza Ali Abbasi) is a veteran pilot and falls in love with a girl named Sania (Hania Amir). Sania later joins the air force academy and you can’t help but wonder about the age difference between the two. It also becomes more of a problem when Hamza is almost always admonishing Sania in a fatherly way which borders on creepy rather than affectionate. It’s tough to decide whether it’s Sania’s electra complex or Hamza’s messiah complex that is responsible for the bond (I don’t want to say chemistry, because there is none) between the two. Ahad Raza Mir stars as Saad, an arrogant, cocky young man whose character has perhaps the most depth in all the leads. However, his storyline resolves abruptly and leaves you with a sense of confusion about his internal conflicts. A lot of the dramatics are dedicated to weak theatrics between Hamza and Sania, over the top emotional duels in the drawing room between Asif Raza Mir and Hina Khawaja Bayat’s characters and needlessly terse dialogue that serve no purpose. Despite the film being about a woman’s conflict and her journey to the Pakistan Air Force Academy, the film quickly becomes about how Hamza is a warrior that must be celebrated at all costs. At a point when Sania’s character is conflicted and anxious, one of the male protagonists simply give her a ‘good talk’ and she’s immediately cured of her woes. The supporting cast holds the film well with Shafaat Ali producing the much-needed humor, Alamdar Khan as the chirpy, happy go lucky friend, Faris Shafi as the screaming senior and Shamoon Abbasi as the intense leader. Unfortunately, all of them quickly disappear as the storyline progresses. It’s a shame because their presence in the first half provides much of the film’s more real, lighter moments and saves the film from being a total and complete emotional drama. Apart from Atif Aslam’s ‘Thaam Lo’ and a qawwali towards the end of the film, the soundtrack is fairly forgettable. The choreography is limited to a few mehndi sequences and apart from the stunning aerial fights, breathtaking cinematography of Naltar and Risalpur, the film mostly anchors on speeches and cliches that would probably work well in a drama but not in a film. Verdict: Parwaz Hai Junoon shines when it comes to the CGI, animation and production quality but disappoints due to a faltering storyline, excessive use of emotional appeal and a celebration of machismo. 2/5 stars. Published in Daily Times, August 27th 2018.