Janne Tu…Ya Janne Na (Whether You Know It Or Not)
Directed by: Abbas Tyrewala
Starring: Imran Khan, Genelia, Prateek Babbar, Naseeruddin Shah, and Paresh Rawal
So, the clash of the debutantes has taken place and if the box office is anything to go by, this film has emerged the winner, and has zoomed straight into many a website’s best film of the year list. Produced by Aamir Khan, there was never any doubt this would be a quality film but the stakes were raised as the cast are all relatively unknown (certainly in Bollywood, though Genelia has done some Tamil films before)and though Abbas Tyrewala has contributed to many a successful film, his challenge was to bring that magic to his directorial debut.
JTYJN is the story of Jai (Imran Khan) and Aditi (Genelia), two best friends who are total opposites. While Aditi is a hot headed fiery girl, Imran is a cool, non confrontational smart alec. Everyone – from their college friends to their parents – know that Jai and Aditi are perfect for one another but Jai and Aditi do not know this themselves. When college comes to an end and the inevitable talk of marriage begins (far too realistic!) after dismissing the idea of marrying one another, Jai and Aditi decide to find the perfect person for each other. However, when reality bites, both Jai and Aditi realise things will not be the same again…
Though the story may not be new, there is an endearing freshness to this film that makes it very watchable. The film is narrated by a group of friends to a cynical newcomer to the situation, who like the audience, is won over by the end by the charm of the cast and the story is updated to a modern setting, with believable characters rather than stock types (though there is a whiff of stereotype with the unrequited lovers and everyone pairing off – minor gripes!) JTYJN also reminds one very much of Dil Chata Hai and Jab We Met, in terms of treatment and attention to small but crucial details such as the use of old songs and even little pokes at Aamir Khan’s debut film, which featured the popular Papa Kehte Hai (Father says…) song, which make the film feel like an old friend and garner that all important repeat viewing value which many a filmmaker hankers for today. Add to this a heap of effortless cool and nostlgia for those of us who have long passed our college days (and what days they were – sigh) and JTYJN raises itself from an average film to an entertaining, engaging films.
In terms of performances, there are no weak links, certainly not in the central cast. Imran Khan brings a lot of energy and freshness to his performance, at first reminding us of his Aamir mamu but soon putting his own stamp on the performance and appearing very comfortable on screen – if such a fanfare had not been made that this was his debut, you’d be given for thinking Imran had done this before. Similarly, Genelia gives an equally strong performance, at first fiery and energetic before switching gears to a subtle and understated performance. Even the cameos in this film are well performed. Naseerudin Shah is clearly having fun as Jai’s dead father who talks from the dead (not as tacky as it sounds), Paresh Rawal is hilarious as the crooked police inspector and Sohail and Arbaaz Khan despite looking dressed for a very camp rodeo, provide laughs on all levels. However the standout cameo has to be Prateek Babbar, as Aditi’s aloof brother. A moody, unsociable character that is rarely depicted on screen, his dark brooding performance proves a wonderful contrast to the rest of the characters and shows not all is hunky dory in this oh so perfect world of urban, affluent youth, making the film more believable.
JTYJN is well written, being light enough to make entertaining viewing but dense enough to engage the viewer. Furthermore, the film is briskly paced, keeping its sub plots as sub plots and focusing on the relationship between Aditi and Jai throughout. The music, by A.R Rehman is as one would expect, superb, growing on the viewer and no doubt to be listened a long time after the film runs it course, with Kabhie Kabhie Aditi and Pappu Can’t Dance amongst the favourites. Apparently, on his blog, Aamir Khan is thinking of adding two songs from the OST to the film but one hopes he doesn’t as the four songs in the film all assist the narrative, moving the film forward and keeping the film from getting tiring or annoying.
All in all, JTYJN is a well executed effort with food for thought for those who want it and enjoyment for others – in other words a perfect entertainer. It certainly should be able to stand competition from some of the other big name films coming up in the next few weeks and certainly in the long term, could well be one of the best performing films of 2008, a rather exclusive club at the moment.
It’ll certainly be worth a watch in 2050 (Bollywood fans all collectively groan)…