Jaanu movie review: Sharwanand, Samantha's bittersweet romance drama is heartbreakingly cathartic
Jaanu is the Telugu remake of a Tamil film, ‘96, starring Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha
Some love stories never begin and some, never end. Jaanu, starring Sharwanand and Samantha, falls somewhere in between. It’s both heartbreaking and cathartic at the same time, and to truly understand why every conversation between the two characters - Ram and Jaanu - feels like a ticking time-bomb, one has to delve into how writer and director C Prem Kumar uses long pauses and silence as a prelude to confessions between the two characters.
Every time the duo try to go down the memory lane, they are scared about how their past is going to affect their present. And yet, when they muster the courage to talk to each other after 15 years, both of them realise that their lives might have changed, but emotionally, they are still prisoners of their past. The film explores all these aspects beautifully and at every turn, it feels like watching a fuse burn despite knowing that the end result could be devastating.
Jaanu is the Telugu remake of a Tamil film, ‘96, starring Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha, and it tells the story of Ram (Sharwanand), a travel photographer, who reconnects with his school friends after nearly 15 years. They plan a reunion in Hyderabad, where Ram ends up meeting his childhood sweetheart, Jaanu (Samantha). The rest of the story is about how Ram and Jaanu open up about their past and find closure to their love story.
It’s been a while since romantic dramas have tapped into the innocence of first love and Jaanu captures that essence remarkably well. The budding love story between two teenagers is exceptionally well-staged with terrific performances by Gouri Kishan and Sai Kiran, who played the younger Jaanu and Ram respectively.
Ram is too shy to confess his feelings for Jaanu, but the latter gets it. She hears his heartbeat loud and clear, and it tells the whole story of what Ram feels for her. Both of them yearn for each other, but when fate plays spoilsport in their lives, it leaves both of them devastated so much that both of them find it hard to move on. Much later, when both of them sit together to talk about their past, Ram and Jaanu almost curse their fate.
One of the best scenes in the film has Samantha confessing how she yearned to see Sharwanand again, and hoping that they would reunite. As she digs into her past, she’s in tears and she hesitates to look into his eyes. There’s a tinge of regret in her voice that life didn’t turn out exactly the way she had hoped for. But when Sharwanand reveals the truth, it breaks her even more and it leaves her stunned. The two actors are at their best in this scene where they finally manage to break free and talk to each other openly. It’s both mature and emotional, and kudos to both Sharwanand and Samantha for not making it too melodramatic. It’s this measured performance, right from the way they emote to how they fight back their tears, that stays with you. Even the silence and long pauses that are so ubiquitous in the film tell their own story. And if that wasn’t enough, music composer Govind Vasantha adds the signature tune of the film, 'Oohale Oohale', to push you into the bottom of an emotional pit.
For all the beautiful moments that the film creates, it’s also self-indulgent in a way. And part of the reason why it feels a tad too slow at times is how Prem Kumar chooses to let the story unfold after both Jaanu and Ram share their version of what exactly happened in the past. In this story, the truth doesn’t quite set the characters free. In fact, it reiterates that no matter how much they try to lessen the emotional burden from their hearts, both of them struggle to move on. So, in the third act of the film, when Ram and Jaanu talk about their future and what both of them want the other person to do next, it feels more like wishful thinking than a resolution to their conflict. Both of them pretend that they have repressed their feelings, if any, but their actions speak otherwise.
Jaanu is a nostalgic trip filled with lots of beautiful moments, and it also makes you ask yourselves if you can truly move on from some relationships. By the end of the film, Ram is so moved after meeting Jaanu that he clings on to her memories even more, and Jaanu herself struggles to let go despite knowing that she has another man in her life. The fuse keeps burning without an end in sight, and that’s what makes it so effective.
Rating: 3.25 stars
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