Jaan Layva (2004) (Murderer)
Cast: Moammar Rana, Sana, Babar Ali
Director: Iqbal Kashmiri
Synopsis: Serial Killer with a Ghost Face mask on the rampage in the backdrop of some serious Oedipus complex issues with the only salvation being a one way ticket to Pakistan, the land of bliss.
Years after the whole Scream thing died out, here in Pakistan; it was decided to flog a horse that had already been dead and buried as trends often take a little time to drift this way from the West. The Scream mask and figure feature prominently on the posters of the movie that promise a terrifying experience unlike you have ever witnessed before: “The unknown terror, the unseen…death” is the tag line on the poster with a lot of worried faces suggesting a slasher film on the lines of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer kind – pretty unique for Lollywood.
Jaan Layva stars Moammar Rana, Sana and Babar Ali among others and is partially shot in Nepal which is key to the storyline and the events as they unfurl before the viewer. The action begins in Pakistan where a hugely successful and wealthy business, not unlike Donald Trump, with his hands in pies across the globe who is also a doting father who, when not busy counting his zillions, sings joyous songs to his daughter about the wonders and benefits of a Father-Daughter relationship. Passionately they sing to each other on a regular basis the “Oh Daddy” song that bonds them together so perfectly.
Daddy is planning his annual trip to Nepal and it turns out that he has been harbouring a secret from his beloved daughter Sana for all these years; The dark secret of having another wife stashed away in Nepal. He also reveals that Sana has a half Nepali sister which propels her into heights of delirium and as she gushes love for her unseen sister she simply cannot but sing the “Oh Daddy” song in celebration. There is a touching phone call made to her sister in Nepal where both sisters profess their undying love for one another and the yearning to be together.
Daddy flies off to Nepal where he is dismayed to find that his Nepali wife, Jenny is not the slave that so many Pakistani wives are transformed into. Despite being in her 40’s Jenny loves the night life and the “raaton ki aazadi” which translated means the “Freedom of the night” which again translated means a “sex life”.
Days later Daddy decides he has had enough of his Nepali wife and her errant ways and warns her that if she doesn’t reform he will leave Nepal for good and take along his daughter to Pakistan for good. He also informs her that he will divorce her and take all his assets out of Nepal which triggers a wave of insecurity among his workers and those who hoped to make it big riding on the crest of the company’s success. Then quite out of the blue a dark, shadowy figure appears wearing a “Ghost face” Scream mask and proceeds to stab Daddy to smithereens and then attacks and kills the resident servant girl. Meanwhile the Nepali daughter of Daddy frolics around the parks of Nepal flirting with her father’s company manager while professing love for another by the name of Prince (No, not the Legendary Prince). There follows a tussle between Sana and her step mother as Sana insists on taking her sister back to Pakistan and the mother is adamant that she remain in Nepal. The underlying reason is of course the inheritance that she is due making her flavor of the season with the scheming mother and various suitors any of whom could perhaps be the masked killer or the Jaan Layva.
Ghost face makes a second appearance when he attacks Sana but is saved by her boyfriend as we head to a thrilling climax in which eventually the killers face is revealed but by that time the audience is lost in a cloud of tedium and least concerned about who or what the killer is or what is motives were. The shock twist is anything but a shock and the climax anything but climactic. Jaan Layva may have started out as a horror film but ends up as just another mess of confused patriotism and dubious morality where “Pakistan” is spoken of as heaven on earth where everyone lives in blissful without a worry or care in the world. Conversely Nepal is a den of debauchery and low morals where middle aged married women spend their nights flaunting themselves at the local dance and drink club and there is no sense of “proper spirituality” because they don’t follow Islam! Then there is the whole “O Daddy” scenario which is a case of an odious Oedipus relationship turned a little weird and the song appears and reappears during the course of the movie no less than five times including the climactic life-changing showdown of a climax. The direction is sloppy and lazy while the acting is ridiculously over wrought with only the evil debauched Nepali wife making any impression. Jaan Layva in conclusion, can only be recommended only for insomniacs.