Monday, July 07, 2008

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na - The Review

"The Idiot Plot: A plot that requires all the characters to be idiots. If they weren't, they'd immediately figure out everything and the movie would be over"
- Roger Ebert, film critic

It was certainly necessary for Jai "Rats" Rathode (Imran Khan) and Aditi "Meow" Mahant (Genelia D'Souza) to be idiots - make that retards - for the movie to last as long as it did. The upside is that Amir Khan and Abbas Tyrewallah id't assume the audience to be total idiots too. Hence the unique flashback narrative of the movie, the significance given to the friends of the lovey-doveys, the brilliant supporting cast of the film and the mood swings from happy to sad to laughable, which make JTYJN a decent watch, despite belonging to the genre of Hindi college romances.

The story is simple enough. Jai and Aditi have been best friends through 5 years of college, so insanely close that everybody thinks they're an item - parents, friends, the college bully and the canteen wallah. Realizing that Aditi is 20 and "izzat ka sawaal hain" (!!!!!!!!!!!!) their folks ask them to announce an engagement, to which the two laugh and say they've never been in love (Parents, friends, audience and the canteen-wallah of course know different). Upon hearing some vague parental fundebaazi about finding that special someone, the two (amazingly jobless for two people who've just graduated) decide to find significant others for each other. Through a convoluted series of events, each obtains a significant other - a very pretty girl and a muscle-bound asshole respectively - to the suprised chagrin (Duh!!!) of the other. A few introspective scenes follow, at which point each breaks up with his/her squeeze, but makes no moves towards the other, waiting for the crucial airport scene where he has to tell her his dil-ki-baat before she crosses the 7 seas to study filmmaking at NYU (There's something striking about the way they mention this Univ AND Major). Phir kya hota hain? The unromantic bitch who's hearing this story narrated by the other members of the gang, finds her heart melting for the weedy gang-member who's fida on her. Everyone lives happily ever after.

Being an IITian is undoubtedly hampering when watching films like this. Your mind wanders into odd questions, such as - What degree do they do that keeps them jobless in college for 5 years? How is it that noone's seen working after graduation, considering that Aditi alone is an industrialist's daughter? Who the hell finishes college when they're 20? Isn't it odd that his significant other is a sweet, somewhat messed up girl, while hers is a mean, womanizing SOB? Why does a guy (musclebound fiancee asshole) who knows jujitsu keep punching and not joint-locking? Do parents really want their kids engaged at 20? And why oh why was Vijaylakshmi Aiyer, the unseen-but-mentioned childhood friend of Aditi, important only because she did Aditi's homework? All tough posers.

What makes this otherwise by-the-numbers excercise enjoyable (in parts) is the supporting cast. While this film was touted as the debut of Imran Khan and Genelia, it also marks a breakthrough of sorts for Ratna Pathak Shah, who is simply brilliant as Jai's somewhat overprotective mother. When she talks with loving care to her son Jai or yells at her deceased husband's portrait, you sense for the first time a character speaking to another, as opposed to an actor in a movie speaking to another. It's a pity someone like her was languishing on Filmi Chakkar and other 90's Hindi sitcoms, when you consider how she outshines all the leads. Naseeruddin Shah, as her deceased Rajput ("Rathode from Ranjhore!!") husband, who converses from his portrait, is another delight. He hasn't been this funny since he was in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron. A running gag through the movie is the fulfilment of the three tests of Rathode manhood, which he is sure Jai will carry out, and which Ratna Pathak abhors the very idea of. Arbaaz and Sohail Khan (as some sort of peace offering to Salman) appear as the weirdest oddballs this side of the Suez, pulling off spectacular comedy. And Rajat Kapoor is again great as a bitter alcoholic father (to Imran's girlfriend).

Verdict: Worth a watch for the supporting cast, though the lead story jumps from cliche to cliche.