This is Abbas Tyrewala’s directorial venture (he has written screenplays for films like Maqbool, Main Hoon Na and dialogue for Munnabhai MBBS and Salaam Namaste), but the film has the touch of Mansoor Khan all over. Aamir Khan had requested Khan to come out of his hibernation especially for the film. (Khan had launched Aamir in the 1988 film Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and then made Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander, a film that I adored when I was younger, but can see through now.) The director specialises in making films about absolutely done-to-death stories, but adds touches of genuine humour and some likeable characters to make an inevitable winner. Young people belonging to the age-group these films target love seeing an exaggerate version of themselves on screen (who doesn’t)—living the life, full of friends, fun, laughter and love.
Here, too, there is the adorable gang of friends: the main characters Jay and Aditi who are best friends, an unlikely lovey-dovey couple—a guy who’s always complaining and an air-headed girl—the quiet observer who always know what’s going on with the rest and a Gujarati buddy-type whose accent the film makes fun of. When inseparable duo Aditi and Jay find lovers, they both are confused with feelings of jealously that keep cropping up.
While Jay goes against his usually calm and non-violent demeanour to bash up a guy who hurts Aditi, she on the other hand, is ready to leave for America for a three-year filmmaking course. What next? Sudden realisation and the clichéd airport scene where she chucks her plan to stay back and get married to him. So what’s the problem?
These are 20-21 year old kids talking about marriage as if it were the only defining thing in their lives! You’ll agree that this age group is anything but—they seem more career-focused than ever, without turning cynical of love, and marriage, though important, is not the be-all-and-end-all in their lives. Here, Aditi gets engaged to the first guy her parents introduce her to, and when she realises her feeling for Jay, marries him instead (reminds you of the Preity Zinta-Amir Khan-Ayub Khan angle in Dil Chahta Hai).
Jay, by the way, doesn’t have a job and no concrete career plans as of now. As for Aditi, she’s chucked her dream of a becoming a filmmaker for marriage (is it impossible in this day and age to pursue a career aspiration and still be in love?). They both return from honeymoon, obviously on their parent’s money, and are ready to start a life with zero source of income. Get real! Kids today are far more pragmatic. And this isn’t an accurate or a flattering representation of this generation.
Then there’s the central theme of love and friendship that’s been thrashed in a hundred movies—think Maine Pyar Kiya, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Ishq Vishk, Main Hoon Na, Dil Chahta Hai and the like.
It is therefore Tyrewala’s skill that we are still pulled into the film and cannot help but listen to the characters. He does that through humour—a big plus in the film. For the laughs we have Jay’s deceased father (Naseeruddin Shah, having a blast) talking to his mother from his photo hoping Jay becomes a Rathore (the aggressive kind who must ride a horse, go to jail and bash up people to honour their lineage); the home video of the friends pulling each others’ legs and making funny faces into the camera; the friend, heartbroken in love, who goes to a bartender and demands a “Coca Cola on the rocks”.
The second element that works for the film is the introduction of very real sub-characters that add depth—like Jay’s mother (Ratna Pathak Shah) who’s such a heavy relief from the clingy Bollywood moms. She reads Naomi Woolfe, takes turns to make breakfast with her son, is a friend to him, and wants to raise him to be a sensitive soul. Even the character of Aditi’s reclusive brother (Prateik Babbar, Smita Patil’s son) is an interesting touch.
Technically, the film is superb. The songs are breezy and hummable. Only complaint is lax editing that could have trimmed the repetitive jokes and extraneous dialogue.
The casting is important. Imran Khan makes his debut playing a character that fits him perfectly. He has a relaxed, laid-back air about him, a nice departure from the rippling muscles that pass off as college kids in our films. Genelia is pleasant and does her routine sprightly act that she did in Mere Baap Pehle Aap. Ratna Pathak Shah is wonderful as the hyperactive, modern mother.
I am sure the film will go on to do well. In a sea of big-budget disasters over the last few months, this relatively simpler film is far more palatable. One can’t explain the buzz that some films have—where the audience pre-decides to like a film no matter what. Jaane Tu… is one of them. Go for it with your gang of friends for a few laughs, but just don’t expect anything you haven’t seen a hundred times already.
Rating: Two-and-a-half stars