Josh- a hopeful and watchable film

Josh is not a memorable film, qualifying for an honorable mention in the book of recent Pakistani movies, says Ras H. Siddiqui, a writer and a peace activist based in California.

 Ras H. Siddiqui
Ras H. Siddiqui

Writer, producer & director Iram Parveen Bilal brought her Pakistani feature film Josh to Sacramento, California in the month of March this year to the delight of members of the local Desi community.

This was a one night only screening at the historic Tower Theatre on Land Park Drive which we locals sometimes refer to as our version of ‘Off Broadway” (in a humorous way since this location certainly is off Broadway Street but without any of the attractions attributed to its New York or San Francisco counterparts). Since this movie is opening in Pakistan this coming Eid, almost 5 months later, I believe that it is time for a revisit.

Josh has been gaining traction outside Pakistan at film festivals (2012 Mumbai Film Festival) and at community screening events here in the United States (Stanford, Seattle, Sacramento and in San Jose on March 23rd). One reason for its high visibility here in America could possibly be the contributions made to this it by several Pakistani-Americans, especially in the realm of its music.Josh-movie-pakistan

Director Iram Parveen Bilal received her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering from Caltech but pursued a different calling and then obtained a MFA from the University of Southern California, embarking into film-making from that point onwards. Josh is her first full length feature film. This trend of Pakistani-American engineers and doctors dabbling in film-making is not new. From right here in Northern California Shoieb Yunus has made Streets of Karachi and Dr. Hassan Zee his colorful Night of Henna.

Josh starts off with a quote from the poet Rumi and has been inspired by some factual events (Parveen Saeed’s Khana Ghar project?). It is a Karachi- and Sindh-centered movie dealing with topics of poverty, feudalism and youth trying to bring change.  Since it is now releasing in Pakistan, one can now attempt a short critique here.

Aamina Sheikh as Fatima does a decent acting job in the movie and Mohib Mirza certainly swayed the ladies in the audience in Sacramento. But Josh is not a memorable film, qualifying for an honorable mention in the book of recent Pakistani movies. Its media hype is strangely strong in Pakistan, but one has to actually watch  the movie and compare it to efforts across the border in India before justifying this marketing love fest.

It is not as intense as Shoaib Mansoor’s Bol or Khuda Kay Liye or as magnificent as Khamosh Pani (probably the best India-Pakistan cooperative effort to date). But it is a hopeful and watchable film and its director certainly has the Josh to carry it through.

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