Saturday, May 03, 2014

Purani Jeans 

Growth Pangs

There are some clichés that every ‘coming of age’ films must have, and Tanushri Chattrji Bassu seems to have sat down with a checklist to tick them all.  Rich guy with Daddy issues and rockstar aspirations, introverted poet type, fat guy, mean guy, teenage pregnancy, pretty girl causing rift in friendship… all in.  Since Bassu’s film is not set on campus there are no weird teachers, which is a relief.

Set in beautiful Kasauli, it’s the story of one summer when the gang of guys that calls itself Kasauli Cowboys hangs out at a “shed”.  Sam (Aditya Seal) has returned from London and since he is the one with the mansion, pool, jeep and money, everything revolves around him. His own mother Sherry (Sarika) is an alcoholic, coping with a troubled second marriage. Sam is closer to his buddy Sid’s (Tanuj Virwani) mother (Rati Agnihotri) than his own.  The other three Bobby, Tino and Suzy (Param Baidwan, Kashyap Kapoor, Raghav Kakker) are the freaky hangers-on that every boys’ gang must have to make the leaders look good.

There don’t to be any interesting girls in Kasauli, because when a dreamy-looking Nayantara (Isabelle Leite) walks in from Bombay (the story is set in the 1990s, when it was not Mumbai), both Sam and Sid fall for her, while Bobby flirts with her plain, bespectacled sister Ayesha (Kashika Chopra).

Most of the time, the gang is partying and picnicking; the first crisis arrives when Ayesha gets pregnant and Bobby runs away in panic.  In a somewhat modern twist, Ayesha quietly has an abortion, with her sister and Sam supporting her. The studious and ambitions Sid is away for an interview for a foreign university.  Both friends seem unaware that the other is also in love with Nayantara, and the triangle ends in tragedy.

In spite of its attempt to be youthful and cool, Purani Jeans feels mothball-y,  because  it is like every other youth film and love triangle.  At least when Karan Johar made Student of the Year, he gave it more layers and definitely loads of glamour.  Women in male-bonding films come across as objects of the man’s love or lust,  bimbettes with no minds of their own. There are some tasteless scenes of Tino and Suzy fighting over a statuesque blonde, and she actually responds to those two clowns. After her sister Ayesha has been through the trauma of pregnancy, Nayantara sleeps with a guy she knows is about to leave to go abroad.   

The story—like so many of this kind—is told in flashback when Sid returns 12 years later to Kasauli to find memories hitting hard. Tanuj Virwani is quite unequal to the task of portraying love, guilt or remorse, so like his character in the film, Aditya Seal is the life of this party.  If Purani Jeans is aimed at teens, it may just have missed the mark, because today’s kids have different tastes and attitudes. 


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