Friday, July 04, 2008

JTYJN & 2050 

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na

Okay, let’s get the cribbing out of the way first—the plot of Abbas Tyrewala’s Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na is so overused, that at first when the ‘best friends who don’t realize they are in love’ stuff comes up, you want to run out of the hall screaming. The bunch of friends telling an outsider the big love story (like Chalte Chalte) does nothing to allay your fears. You are bugged that the lovely Kabhi Kabhi Aditi song is wasted on an inconsequential situation.

Then the quirkiness of the director, the effortless lines, the freshness of the characters start to grow on you; the unusual casting, the reality of ordinary people’s lives hits home and then you sit back and enjoy the rest of the film and come out smiling (in spite of that grr-inducing ‘Godot’ cleverness!)

Jai Rathod (Imran Khan) has been brought as a decent, non-violent boy by his slightly loopy mother Savitri (Ratna Pathak Shah) who fights with his dead father’s portrait. His best friend Aditi (Genelia D'souza) is a spirited and ill-tempered girl, whose favourite punching bag is her brother Amit (Prateik Babbar).

They have a ‘gang’ of loyal friends and everyone thinks Jai and Aditi are made for each other, except the two themselves. Jai falls for a soft, feminine Meghna (Manjari Phadnis), while Aditi is attracted to a macho type (Ayaz Khan).

How the two recognize their love for each other is what the film is about. But then, where else do you a see a brave activist mom like Savitri, whose constant battle with an inspector Waghmare (Paresh Rawal) is almost like a love-hate relationship? Where else do you see cool parents called “Peachy” and “Pumpkin”? Where else do a see a brother-sister team that has so much rage and so much tenderness. And where else can you see two mad Rajput cowboys (two Khan brothers in a whacky cameos)?

There is the very, very hackneyed airport climax; there is the very slightly disturbing thought that the film actually lists violence as a mark of manhood. But Jaane Tu… (the title from a song in Aa Gale Lag Ja, sung by various characters with various degrees of cacophony) is such a nice, clean, enjoyable film that you don’t really mind.

Imran Khan has the kind of looks that will be called “cute” but the teenage multiplex crowd that will throng to this film, hopefully he will be able to grow out of it. Both he and Genelia D’Souza with her make-up less, unaffected, tomboy look, have given really charming performances. Some of the other actors—like the gang, the brother and the two other partners are terrific too, so’re the seniors like Ratna Pathak Shah, Paresh Rawal and Rajat Kapoor in small parts.

Love Story 2050

If those who are still stuck in the past, make films about the future, the result is bound to be an in-limbo mess like Love Story 2050.

Aren’t we bored of poor little rich guys, of giggly trying-to-be-cute girls; guys chasing girls all over the place and then singing songs and not even asking for each other’s phone numbers and email ids! So then they have to depend on magical CG butterflies to help to reunite them. This is 2008, in case Harry Baweja forgot, as he was keeping an eye on the future!

Harman Baweja, given the very Bollywood-ish name Karan Malhotra, is the aforementioned rich guy; he has a long introduction sequence, during which we see small parts of his face, then profile and then, voila, the Face, which resembles Hrithik Roshan’s!

Karan whines because rich daddy doesn’t care about him, he talks to his dead mum and flips for girl in baby doll dress, chasing a butterfly. Now he chases Sana (Priyanka Chopra) up and down the streets, up and down a rollercoaster, and so on. This is most of the first half and we are still in 2008—in picturesque Australia where Karan’s Uncle Ya (Boman Irani) is making a time machine and Sana’s mother (Archana Puran Singh) speaks in an exaggerated Bhatinda accent.

Between one thing and another, and so as not to put in any spoilers, Karan, Uncle Ya (trying to be Einstein) and Sana’s kid siblings land up in Mumbai 2050. It’s Gothic hell, out of who-knows-how-many Hollywood sci-fi films and comics. There are cute talking robots and a masked villain like Darth Vader from Star Wars.

In 2050, Sana is an irritatingly self-obsessed, red-haired rock star Zeisha, and Karan has to make her fall in love with him and take her back to 2008. Now, even by the put-brains-on-hold logic of Bollywood cinema, Karan can’t stay on in 2050 because he will age by 42 years, but if Zeisha went back, wouldn’t she regress back into the womb?

Don’t argue, Baweja seems to say; just admire futuristic buildings, flying cars, a virtual reality Mortal Combat game, light sabre fights, weird outfits, music concerts in the sky and all that the special effects guys have painstakingly put together, and which the scriptwriters have wrecked with their lacklustre plotting. So the 2050 section becomes one long meaningless set-piece, with no emotional connect with the audience.

Harman Baweja is good-looking, muscular, standard-issue ‘hero’ of today. He can fight, he can dance, we’ll know from his next film if he can act as well... Priyanka Chopra still hasn’t got her act together. Anu Malik’s music could have been peppier, its pleasant enough, but not foot-tapping.

To sum up, sci-fi fans have seen far superior work from the West; if this is the best vision of the future Bollywood could come up with, we are better off in the past.


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