Director: Abbas Tyrewala
Cast: Imran Khan, Genelia D’Souza, Naseeruddin Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah
Storyline: Best friends Jai and Aditi don’t know they love each other. Until…
Bottomline: Fall in love with the magic of movies
Every generation cherishes a coming-of-age film they grew up watching.
Two decades ago, Aamir entered the Bollywood Khan-daan with one of the most definitive films of that generation. Remember how Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak captured the angst of the young in love, that time when the boys took what Papa Kehte Hai quite seriously? Or how a few years later, another generation of youth got into slacker/rebel mode and struggled to express their love for family, temporarily suspended in the Pehla Nasha of romance (lust at first sight and later falling for the best friend next door) with Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander or Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa?
A few years later, a new generation then discovered a few things about love and friendship on their own with nothing to prove to the parents, celebrating life with Dil Chahta Hai.
The new generation has ‘Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na,’ a film that will live on for years as another Khan born to rule arrives in style.
Despite its inspired origins (a structure borrowed from Forget Paris, Celeste and Estrela and also employed earlier in Chalte Chalte) and derived from the Hollywood school of romantic comedies, Jaane Tu is one of those movies that instantly connects to the youth simply because of the world it is set in and the characters who inhabit it.
This world where Pappu can’t dance is about a bunch of friends who are as ordinary as they get in the real world, leading perfectly normal lives with friends who sing out of tune… a world where a boy and girl can be the best of friends and yet had somehow never really given a serious thought to going out with each other. A world where it’s no big deal for people dealing with unrequited love to settle for love where it is available. A world where people are never sure of their feelings. And also, a world where compatibility is the necessity for romance.
Jai and Aditi are exact opposites, he’s a Rajput lion who’s been bred as sheep and she’s a wild cat waiting for a fight. They are great friends. To quote from a song he sings to cheer her up: Rotey Hai Hum Bhi Agar Tere Aankhon Main Aasoon Aatey Hai (I cry if there are tears in your eyes). Yet, he has no clue that he loves her.
The rest of the story can be completed by any amateur wannabe rom-com writer but what’s interesting about Abbas Tyrewala’s storytelling is how relatable he makes this simple story by exploiting the age-old unwritten law of machismo buried in our films.
For the uninitiated, Hindi film tradition demands that a boy needs to fulfill three basic requirements to become a man… Or a Bollywood hero. He has to beat up people, he has to have some royal blood in him and he should break the law. Also, Hollywood tradition of romantic comedies requires a chase to the airport in the end. Nothing else can make it larger than life. Nothing else can make life look like a movie.
So Tyrewala gives us exactly this, but in his own style and terms, employing some delightful larger-than-life cameos (clearly the funniest parts of the film) and extremely believable support characters, whether it is the circle of friends or the family… Rathna Pathak Shah has to be one of the best onscreen Moms in recent times.
The ensemble is an example of flawless casting. Prateik Babbar’s cameo as Genelia’s reclusive, introverted artist brother, for instance. The detail, sub-plots and back stories to every support character is exemplary.
What makes us like Imran Khan instantly is that right from the start, he’s just the quiet boy next door who never tries to impress (no fancy bikes or complicated dance steps other star-sons use to launch themselves), always doing exactly what the character demands him to do. Watch the scene where he first feels hurt seeing his best friend with another guy and the young man lets his eyes say it all. He makes his Uncle proud and is clearly here to stay. Genelia’s Aditi is easily excitable and hence, those who hate her may still hate her and those who love her would love her more.
Right from the jazzy opening credits, A.R. Rahman seems to have a blast with a fitting genre tribute to Harry Connick Jr’s ‘Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off’ (from the When Harry Met Sarry OST) with ‘Tu Bole’… The album is a must-buy.
Yes, it may not be a wholly original film, it may force you to suspend your disbelief quite unabashedly, it may have characters sing your favourite song out of tune endlessly just to remind you it’s the title of the film but sometimes, films transcend all these inherent flaws with magic that only cinema can produce. And those magical moments… make you forget everything else.