Friday night and I walk out of Jaane Tu and sms my cousin and a couple of friends: "Great film, must see!"
They reply back:"We saw Love Story 2050... avoid! Absolute disaster!!"
Film Flop Prediction Rule # 1: The guy who ties up with Pantaloons and does a hundred promo events is probably the weaker film.
Besides, when you have a producer like Aamir Khan and a scriptwriter like Abbas Tyrewala, you know. Izzat ka sawaal hai, they will do their best to NOT get it wrong.
So here's the deal. Jaane Tu has got 3 to 3.5 stars from most critics and both Imran and Genelia have been mucho appreciated. But I go a step further and give it 4 stars.
Reason: a love story with newcomers is the oldest formula in filmdom, but also the hardest to get right. Even with the best looking / best trained of actors. We all know what happened to Sawariya... and a million other such attempts.
The trick is to say something new about the context and the conundrum: how do you bring together, then separate and in the end bring together that one boy and one girl?
Well, in the past it was parents and zamaana which kept them apart. Still happens (a young man just jumped off Vashi bridge yesterday as his runaway bride's parents had filed a police complaint).
But that story's kind of been done to death (no pun intended).
With DDLJ we moved to the 'must win parents over', only then.
With Dil Chahta Hai the parents became irrelevant and it was only the two individuals figuring out what they wanted for themselves. The complication being one was already engaged.
Jaane Tu is the next step in the evolution of romance in India: Two best friends who truly believe, "Hey we are NOT in love!"
And of course everyone else can see it but not them. So Jai and Aditi look for romance elsewhere until finally they realise,"Hello, agar mere liye koi hai, to wahi hai, wahi hai, wahi hai."
Here is where the acting bit comes in: Genelia and Imran manage to pull it off. Imran to hai hi blessed and girls break into applause the moment he comes on screen. Genelia had the more difficult role and she does it effortlessly.
Aditi, as her friends describe her, is a girl given to 'extremes'. If Kajol was the original tomboy in KKHH, Aditi is way beyond. She does the things guys are expected to do - be aggressive, swear loudly, and yes even the small stuff like being the designated driver who 'always' drops her friends home.
But she never lets you forget she is a girl. At times, even a girly girl.
The other interesting thing about Jaane Tu is the mixed group. In DCH, we had three friends bonding but they were all guys. And generally in Hindi films or even in advertising, we see groups of girls giggling at a table or groups of boys leaning against their bikes.
Whereas the truth is, in most large cities, guys and girls hang out together. And there is a whole different kind of 'group dynamics' involved.
The trouble starts when there is a couple within the group. And they suddenly have no time or interest in being with the others. But then suddenly the couple break up and now the group itself is torn in two.
That's not the plot here, but it's really common!
In Jaane Tu, there is a different twist: Boms and Rotlu are in love with Jai and Aditi respectively - but the latter are so lost in each other, they have no clue.
Eventually, Boms and Rotlu come together and this happens in a rather comical way when Rotlu is at the farewell party downing his sorrow in 'bottoms up' style pegs of Coke (excellent product placement! congrats to the scriptwriter!)
The gist of their conversation is:"Har kisi ko aisa koi chahiye jo sirf usey dekhe." Or, everyone needs someobody who will make them the centre of a little universe.
And the thing is, this is not a mysterious process which will someday just 'happen' to you. It's a choice you can make.
When Boms and Rotlu looked into each others eyes that night they realised they could create that universe for each other instead of waiting endlessly. They make that choice, and seal it with a kiss.
Even the Jai and Aditi story is really about recognising that love comes in many different forms. Books and movies have propogated only the chocolate-flowers-and-mushy-poems brand of romance.
Jaane Tu explores the idea of love being someone you care about deeply, feel comfortable with and with whom you can truly be yourself. The kickass song 'Aditi' (a really new and different kind of sound from A R Rahman after a long time!) also takes that forward.
"Kabhi kabhi Aditi zindagi mein yun hi koi apna lagta hai."
I know this is said in context of a dead cat but it's really what the film is all about :)
A word about the parents. This is another aspect where we have seen an amazing evolution in Hindi films. And Jaane Tu again breaks new ground here.
Aditi's parents - Jayant Kirpalani and Anuradha Patel - are absoultely delightful. You wish all couples would grow old and be so comfortable and warm with each other.
As a contrast, you have Meghna's parents (Meghna is Jai's interim girlfirend). Rajat Kapur and Kitu Gidwani are an absolutely bitter and unhappy couple who can't stop throwing daggers at each other even in the presence of their daughter's boyfriend.
Later, Meghna tells Jai that her parents stayed together only for 'her sake'. But to block out the reality of their constant and ugly fights she created an imaginary world, where everything was 'perfect'.
This happens in so many Indian homes - parents together for child's sake but horribly unhappy - that you have to wonder. Is it really worth it?
Two other characters also ring so very true.
The first is Sushant - Aditi's fiance who has had a long list of ex girlfriends. Fair enough, she is ok with that. But you know he is definitely the kind of guy who will marry and continue playing the field.
Love is a game of pursuit for Sushant and of course, the same rules do not apply to his fiance. 'Everyone has a past' he tells her but his ego cannot bear it when he figures out she had a thing for Jai.
The second is Aditi's brother, Amit (Prateik Babbar). An intense, but directionless young man who you see in many well to do homes.
Lastly, the comic element. The thread that stitches that takes an otherwise ordinary idea to a much higher level is the side-characters, the little jokes and crazy touches such as:
* The two cowboys and the whole 'Rathore from Ranjhaur' subplot.
* Naseeruddin Shah (Jai's guzre hue pitaji) speaking to Savitri (Jai's mom - Ratna Pathak Shah)) from inside his portrait.
* Jignes, the Gujju boy in the group who is funny without being made fun of.
And of course there are many many memorable one-liners. I will not mention them here and ruin it for you.
Enjoy Jaane Tu. It's an apun ke type ka film. A definite cult hit, the love story of a new generation. A generation which is edgier, more 'in your face'. Where 'Pappu can't dance saala'!
P.S. A quick note on TOI's flm ratings.... They are fast becoming unbelievable!
Nikhat Kazmi has given Jaane Tu 2.5 stars... Chalo woh bhi theek tha. This is a more teenybopper kind of film than say Jab We Met which was a hit with all age groups. So maybe a mainstream paper like TOI might not rate it highly as me.
And there are flaws. Much of the film (especially the climax!) would collapse if Jai - like any normal human being - had a cellphone.
But Nikhat gave 2050 Love Story TWO stars. So ahem you have to wonder: does anyone trust these critics who 'try to keep everyone happy'? Methinks it's not a mere coincidence that a former Femina Miss India and her boyfriend happen to be that hero-heroine of that dud film... which ALL other critics have rated as zero, or at best one star!