Cast: Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, Preity Zinta, Anupam Kher
Director: Shirish Kunder
Storyline: A failed filmstar tries to set his ex-wife up with her geeky admirer from college to avoid paying alimony.
Bottomline: Refreshingly innovative storytelling
Remember Farah Khan’s ‘Main Hoon Na’ and its brand of half-serious, half-spoofy, full-timepass storytelling? That was probably the birth of a new genre and sensibility. Debutant director Shirish Kunder (Farah Khan’s husband) walks down the same road, with that brand of irreverence never seen before in Hindi cinema, with the exception of maybe David Dhawan and Sohail Khan films.
It is cinema that is unabashedly about light-hearted storytelling and the fun built around the storytelling process than about the story itself. That kind of cinema that often reminds you that it is a movie and hence anything is possible. The hero could be an astronaut. Or even walk up the stage during a Filmfare awards ceremony from the past, collect his award and wish the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna and Vinod Khanna, “Better luck next time.”
It is a genre flexible enough to accommodate a musical for just one segment of the film (the flashback sequence of the divorce unfolds like a Broadway musical) or a sense of cartoon-ish imagery for another. Scenes that would have usually require handkerchiefs if told from Karan Johar’s camera, here, are dealt with a sense of detachment that further alienate you away from the world of the characters. It is that detachment that provides you with ample space to look at the characters objectively and even laugh at them when they are at the most tragic phases of their lives, simply because that’s the feel and the mood the director is trying to create.
The most difficult and challenging part of this brand of story-telling is to move the audience even within the light mood created. Sounds impossible but Shirish does it with the ease of the veteran. But for the last half hour of the film, Jaaneman coasts along, refusing to take itself seriously.
And if it does get a wee bit sentimental towards the end, it is because we as a Hindi-fillum loving audience are so used to seeing sentimentality in our films that any product without it, seems a little incomplete.
The comic book storytelling is the hero of ‘Jaaneman’, for it breathes life into the most clichéd of sequences. It is indeed refreshing to see Hindi cinema in all its glory, unleashing all the sentiments and trappings associated with it, without feeling the least bit apologetic and in fact, flaunting its unique selling proposition: Kitsch. Like Main Hoon Na, Jaaneman too walks the fun line between a tribute and a spoof.
So even when Suhaan (Salman) tries setting up the geeky Champu a.k.a. Agastya Rao (Akshay Kumar) with his ex-wife in ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ fashion, you don’t really feel like you are watching the Karan Johar-Nikhil Advani film all over again. And that’s is also because of what the actors Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar bring to the set.
Salman Khan is first-rate, no one can play the tragic guy with great comic flair better than him. He lends so much of soul and style to an otherwise light film.
Akshay Kumar, inspired by Ross (from Friends) and the geeky Eddie Murphy from Bowfinger, shows us that he’s among the best comic talent we have. He also shines in the few scenes he has to bare his soul.
Preity does not have much to do but reprise her role from ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ and the movie belongs to the guys.
Farah Khan’s choreography contributes quite a bit to the narrative and boosts the entertainment quotient in the film.
If there’s one department where the film is weak, it is the pace towards the end. Surprisingly, given that Shirish is known to be among the best editors around. The screenplay too, could have been a little tighter.
In spite of all the cheesy jokes and cornball entertainment, a film like Jaaneman needs to be encouraged. For, its success may pave the way for more films that are made purely for popcorn entertainment and a good outing with friends.
Hindi cinema can certainly do with more of this brand of humour.