Jawani Jaaneman makes you happy to be alive

Going into it, expecting one more film showcasing Saif Ali Khan’s roguish charms, you come away surprised at walloping punch that this punch-drunk celebration of a midlife crisis brings to the table

Photo courtesy- social media 
Photo courtesy- social media
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Subhash K Jha

Going into it , expecting one more  film showcasing Saif Ali Khan’s roguish charms, you come away  surprised at the walloping punch that this punch-drunk celebration  of a midlife crisis brings to the table.

First things  first. Jawani Janeman is a whole  lot of fun.  It’s  like a casually  but immaculately cut suit designed  to fit and  flatter the  wearer without  looking over-tailored.  It’s a story that  opens  its heart  to human flaws,  an over-sexualized (okay, horny) 40-plus Londoner  who thinks  life is  a  bed  of….well, just a bed where  you  ‘sleep’(actually  not  a wink) your way through as many women as  humanly possible.

Straightaway,  let’s just say Saif Ali Khan is a delightfully self-deprecatory  actor . He is never afraid to look ridiculous on  screen. If you’ve seen  him in that  dark underrated satire on hedonistic  mortality Kaalakaandi , you will know exactly what I mean. Here in Jawani Jaaneman when Saif’s Jazz  Singh launches into an impromptu jig in his London apartment(oh, didn’t I tell you the film is set in London, though  it could be any  city of the world) to the ‘inspiring’ beats  of Husn hai suhana, that  upbeat Govinda  number  from David Dhawan’s  Coolie No.1, Saif moves  with an aphrodisiacal androgynous ambivalent stealth. Is a cat on  the prowl.It is a  stunningly inspired  improvised moment of  self-adulation rendered slightly kinky by the fact that, unknown  to him, Jazz’s  biological  daughter(the very lovely debutante  Alaya) is watching him  move to his own  groove .

Jawani Jaaneman is abeautifully  curled-up comforter about  a hedonistic man finding his bearings when a  daughter, 21 years  after  ‘sambhog’(a word that  perkily  crops up  later on in this craftily written cocktail) suddenly pops up  , pert  pristine and pregnant. So poor Jazz must curb his  libido, ration his hedonism and deal with becoming a father and a grandfather at the same time.

It’s a classic notion for a rom-com. Director Nitin Kakkar blends a streak of wickedness with a bedrock  of  unalloyed intelligence  in the storytelling. Hussain Dalaal  and  Abbas Dalal’s  writing  is bang –on, and rightly so as so much bang-bang is  going on.

Saif and Alaya as the newly-bonding father and daughter are so comfortable in their  camaraderie  I forgot they’ve just got to know  each other . Their scenes together are choreographed like  a shadow dance,  tantalizing but restrained, suggestive but spiritual. Reminded me of Sanjeev Kumar and Sharmila  Tagore in  Mausam.

\I would  go back to see the  film just to see this father and daughter together.  While Alaya is hands-down the best discovery since  her namesake(Bhatt, seriously!) Saif holds  the nubile narrative together lending a blend of  irony and  charm to the role of an eminently unlikeable  Lothario.His closing monologue with his  newly-born grand-daughter is  moving in its sincerity. Sadly the ever-dependable Tabu  playing a flower-child long after  the flowers have withered, is woefully  miscast. But  the  rest  of  the cast, including Fraida Jalal  as Saif’s mom, are not short  of any brilliance.Watch  out for the beautiful model Rameet Sandhu purring her  way into  Saif’s bed as one of his conquests. She is  priceless .

Special mention must be  made  of the very  evolved Kubra Sait as the Saif’s confidante and  hairdresser …It’s  a performance to ‘dye’ for.

There is  a marvellous  sub-plot about  an octogenarian Kamlesh Gill who relents and sells her  property to real-estate sharks Saif and gang, on condition that a large  green tree on her property won’t be  uprooted, That  tree , a symbol of  the Saif’s Jazz’s  endangered conscience, becomes  a variation  of Terence Mallick’s Tree Of life.

Don’t let the surface prettiness  of Jawani Jaaneman  fool you into believing that this is a film  awed by its own glamour and  gloss. This is actually a  much more thoughtful and relevant film  than  it would  appear to be at  first sight. Like its frivolous protagonist, the  film hides  a huge heaving heart. All you need  to do is look for it.

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