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Countless delays may have marred the much-awaited Pakistan Air Force film Parwaaz Hai Junoon but it finally released for public yesterday.

Exploring the trials and tribulations of working on the battlefield, Haseeb Hassan’s PHJ is no Top Gun. Let’s just get that out of the way first. Having said that, it takes the USP of any patriotic film and builds on it with strong performances and slick cinematography.

Focusing on two narratives switching between the past and present, the story mainly deals with Sania (Hania Amir) and Hamza’s (Hamza Ali Abbasi) love story; their budding romance is set against a rocky path of family drama, tactical air operations and ultimate tragedy, which we gathered from the trailer. When in the present, it looks at the recently-enrolled young cadets of the PAF such as Saad (Ahad Raza Mir) and Sania, who have to come to terms with the harsh training of the forces, all the while creating friendships and emotional bonds.

Amongst all of this, the story serpentines between the realities of life, patriotism (lots of it), and emotional moments (expected lots of tears), all designed to glorify the air force, which is like preaching to the converted.

That said, the film is far from faultless – at least in the first half.

Painting a picture of the rigid lifestyles of the armed forces and their harsh training methods, the first half of the film takes itself a little too seriously; barring the few fun moments, it overdoses on hackneyed patriotism-filled ‘isms’. Hamza Ali Abbasi is in a character well-suited to his real life persona but how many dialogues like ‘Yeh dharti bhi meray maan aur baap hain‘ can you digest? A little subtlety would have been better.

Apart from a terribly-long first half, which truly has no bang, the real problem lies in the script; the narrative focuses on powerful airborne scenes but very little story deliverance. We get that the point of the film is about the PAF, but surely, their lives have more meaning than just either flying about in JF-17’s and training.

Having said that, even in the moments where the film does actually show a contrasting life of the Air Force officers – case in point being Hamza as the Harley Davidson-riding flirtatious hero – the story doesn’t manage to make it convincing.

However, despite having major problems script-wise, the film is extremely strong in its aesthetics and acting skills, which shouldn’t be a surprise given the acting prowess most of the ensemble cast is known for. While Hania Aamir shines as the chirpy, fresh Sania, Hamza Ali Abbasi and Ahad Raza Mir too perfectly play their respective characters as they show real emotions. The film also shines in its portrayal of the PAF, which looks top-notch. From the training colleges dotted around in Pakistan to their swift responses against terrorism, the film manages to glorify the military perfectly. Again, it would have benefitted tremendously from a stronger plot and script.

Conclusively, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Parwaaz Hai Junoon is a film made for a die-hard PAF fan or even a die hard Hamza Ali Abbasi fan. If you have ever dreamt of becoming a part of the armed forces, then it won’t be hard for you to fall in love with it.

Something Haute Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars