Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na – movie review

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Imran Khan and Genelia D'Souza in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na

Abbas Tyrewala makes his directorial debut with an Aamir Khan production. Not a bad way to start. Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na is a typical college-romance-drama-comedy with Imran Khan giving his debut performance. The movie also stars Genelia D’Souza, Prateik Babbar, Manjari Fadnis, Sugandha Garg, Karan Makhija, Alishka Varde, Nirav Mehta et. al. The most important question always is, “Is it a good movie to watch?” To end the suspense, yes, it is. Abbas Tyrewala‘s first baby makes for a very entertaining couple of hours, but the best way to describe Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na would be well executed.

When I said typical college romance, I might not have emphasised enough just how typical this movie is. Boy and girl are the best of friends. Everyone else thinks they are romantically involved, except them. They start seeing other people to get people off their backs, until they finally realise their love for each other before the curtains fall. Classic Hindi film story. In fact, classic romantic plot in any language. So why should we bother with this, the Nth version of the boy meets girl genre? Because it’s so well done.

The Hindi film industry has been going through a rough patch in recent times. The movies have been tired, boring, and confused. Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na is a welcome bit of respite which returns to the basics and does them remarkably. This continues, what is now, a trend with anything tackled by Aamir Khan Productions, starting with Lagaan. In addition to introducing his nephew with style, Aamir Khan once again pulls of a great piece of execution on a movie project. We have come to expect no less.

Abbas Tyrewala comes with a certain amount of pedigree of his own. In the past he has written the dialogue for such wonders as Asoka, Munna Bhai M.B.B.S., and Main Hoon Na. Unfortunately, he also has writing credits for such immense blunders as Darna Mana Hai and Shikhar. While I wouldn’t quite equate Jaane Tu Jaane Na with his best work, I’m happy to report it is immensely distant from his worst. As a director he obviously has potential, because what is a tired premise is given new life in this movie. One aspect in which it succeeds admirably is in creating and maintaining a certain internally consistent atmosphere, and you can’t discount the contribution of the director in that achievement.

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na

The performances too are well done, but in a typical sort of way. Like the plot, most of the characters are stereotypes, and the movie revels in it. Genelia plays the strong-headed girl with a certain comfort. The rest of the gang consisting of Karan Makhija, Alishka Varde, Sugandha Garg, Manjari Fadnis, and Nirav Mehta are expectedly two dimensional and entertaining. Ratna Pathak is effortless as the protagonist’s Mother, and Paresh Rawal could probably play Inspector P.K. Waghmare in his sleep. Prateik Babbar shows promise in his limited role as the female lead’s moody brother. Renuka Kunzru is a revelation as the excuse for the frame tale around which the story is set. Her reactions, dialogue delivery and timing put many of the other cast to shame, and it is unfortunate that she is more of a plot device in this piece rather than a significant character.

A lot of appreciation is due to the new kid on the block, Imran Khan. He plays his role with sincerity, a very rare quality in the world of Hindi films. He doesn’t try to play the hero but rather a human being, and my hat is off to him for choosing such a pacifist nice guy as his debut role. I do wish he continues to choose similarly thoughtful and considered roles, rather than jumping onto the Punjabi stud bandwagon. There are the beginnings of an excellent actor in him.

What might be one of the most popular things about this movie is in my book one of its most dire failures. The music by A.R. Rahman is immensely forgettable, and I don’t care what the record sales say. Also, it would help if some of the singers used here could actually sing. It might come as news to the music creators, but digital distorts and pitch correction do not fool everyone all the time.

In spite of its shortcomings, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na is a sweet movie. It means well, it accepts its own limitations, and does everything by the book. Having said that, what lifts it well above mediocrity is that it takes that a bit further and throws the book at you. Strange dramatic situations that are obviously contrived, ridiculous reversals, and over-the-top climaxes, it’s all there. Either Abbas Tyrewala seriously believes in this stuff, or he is simply a huge fan of the innocent stupidity of this genre and wishes to celebrate it. I don’t really care which it is. What matters is that he has given us a very entertaining Hindi movie which I know I will watch again in the future.

Samir

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Comments
  1. Samir,

    What an absolutely marvelous review.

    Someone sent me the link and luckily I was curious enough to click on it. Wish more publications had critics who get the damn spirit of a piece before commenting on it.

    I am intrigued you didn’t like the music as I felt it was so perfectly an extension of the film’s mood and tone.

    Just a small point in my defence (and I don’t do that often; guess I feel comfortable because your site doesn’t seem to be that hugely populated yet – though I have no doubt it will be.) Shikhar went through a horrid mutation during its execution that I was not part of.

    A small example – the character of GG (Ajay Devgan) was conceived of as a Hindi film Gail Wynand. Next thing I know, he’s bleached blond, wearing silk paisley and dancing in a discotheque.

    It is the only film of mine that I have never seen all the way through. I couldn’t.

    And you did miss Maqbool, of which I’m quite fond. ๐Ÿ™‚

    About the question you posed at the end, I’m not sure either. Neither rings entirely true. It all started with me wanting to write a script that would put at rest the implicit belief of many that I could never write anything straight up Bollywood-commercial-viable.

    Or maybe I just wanted to have fun with the genre without spoofing it. So I went for tongue-in-cheek irreverence with heart. Honestly? I think it kind of came off.

    Regards,
    Abbas TYrewala.

    1. Abbas,

      Thank you for dropping by and for your enlightening commentary. There can be no greater pleasure for someone of my interests than having a direct discussion with people who are actually involved in the making of films, and to do so with someone of your calibre is a privelege.

      I see your point about the habits of movie critics, but I hope to never pass under that label. I think interested enthusiast who likes to write is more appropriate. Maybe there is too much of an innate need to criticise if that is the common interpretation of your job description.

      About the music of Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, I’d like to clarify that I agree with you completely in that it perfectly fits the mood and tone of the film. The mood was one my favourite parts of it. My (perhaps too brief) dismissal of the music was more based on the quality of it. It is possible that I am holding A.R. Rahman to a higher standard than I would others, but I think that is only fair. When you have set the bar as high as he has with some of his previous work, you always run the risk of under delivering.

      Thank you for your insights into Shikhar. They don’t completely surprise me. While I might have relegated it to the category of your bad work, it hardly seemed likely that it was an untouched product of your pen considering the quality of your other work. However, being an outside observer to these things I don’t like to presume to know the inner working of it all, hence the sometimes inappropriate labeling. It is good to have my doubts confirmed.

      I’ve always been curious about Maqbool but have not sought it out due to my own personal dislike of the majority of “gangster” films. There are some I’ve loved (Hansal Mehta‘s Chhal is one that comes to mind) but I always approach them with a good dose of trepidation. Now that you have recommended it, though, I’m all the more curious. I’ll be sure to track it down, watch it with a more open mind, and probably write about it here when I’m done.

      It’s always a challenge, and a lot of fun, to take on other people’s beliefs about your limitations, so I’m glad you did with Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na (although I must admit I was not aware of this particular percieved limitation). While I might have ended my review with two very extreme choices for your motivation for making the film, I didn’t really mean for it to be that black and white. I think your aim to “have fun with the genre without spoofing it” is what finally came through to me with this film and I will whole heartedly agree that you pulled it off with style.

      I like to think of myself as a movie-nut, sans religious zealotry, so it’s just great to be able to exchange notes like this. I wish you the best with all your projects, I’m certainly going to be keeping an eye out for them. And your insights into any half-truths I write will always be welcomed here … as long as it doesn’t eat into any of your filmmaking time. I would certainly not want that. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Samir

  2. Fascinating.

    Right after my response, I notice a blog entry entitled I’ve never read an Ayn Rand book. In which case I must apologise for my presumptuousness.

    Gail Wynand features in The Fountainhead, and to most people (most of whom tend to have discovered Miss Rand rather early – the question is how long it took them to undiscover her) that is a self-evident character.

    The only tragedy of not having read Ayn Rand is that you lose the pleasure of smiling gently when you meet a passionate fan, and thinking, some day, you’ll see it doesn’t quite work that way.

    ๐Ÿ™‚

    Cheers again.

    1. Quite all right. I think Ayn Rand has reached a certain level of ubiquity, like Shakespeare. Everyone sort of knows what it’s about in a vague way, many have read it or tried, and everyone claims to love it. ๐Ÿ™‚

      The only tragedy of not having read Ayn Rand is that you lose the pleasure of smiling gently when you meet a passionate fan, and thinking, some day, youโ€™ll see it doesnโ€™t quite work that way.

      Aah … I can relate to that feeling on various other issues. Now it would seem I have no choice but to educate myself in Ayn Rand. If for nothing else than for “gentle smiling” rights. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Cheers,
      Samir


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