Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil movie review: An absorbing take on modern-day love with Mumbai at its center

Udita Jhunjhunwala

October 29, 2018 14:16:33 IST

3/5

The lilting Mukesh ballad becomes the misleading title of director Aadish Keluskar’s unpredictable and dark relationship drama. Keluskar has also written and filmed this (predominantly), two-hander which follows a young couple on a date in Mumbai.

Like many couples without the privacy of a home, they meet on Marine Drive, sit in an Irani café, make out in the back of a taxi and check into a lodge that rents out rooms by the hour.
The actors deliver Keluskar’s highly realistic dialogue smoothly (apparently without improvisation). The first scene is a single take and it’s commendable that Khushboo Upadhyay and Rohit Kokate don’t miss a beat.

A still from Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil. YouTube

A still from Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil. YouTube

For a long time, as they walk along the seafront, the couple discusses relationships, each other’s good and bad qualities, their future. She’s a little desperate for his affection. He’s a chauvinist with scant respect for his girlfriend. He belittles her in front of a taxi driver and, when this financially independent woman tries to assert herself, he attacks her with amped up passive aggressive behaviour.

During its 105 minute running time, Jaaon Kahan… becomes more and more uncomfortable to watch. Keluskar doesn’t prepare you for the dark spaces he’s going to take you into and yet, you can’t turn away. The misogyny becomes stifling and the man’s dialogue-baazi induces anger. You want to grab the girl and drag her away from this damaging relationship.
Keluskar’s writing is relatable and you imagine how many similar conversations must be playing out during dates around the country.

As much as this is a take on modern-day love and romance, its also an ode to Mumbai and the spaces young couples who wish to steal moments of intimacy occupy – seafront promenades, Irani cafés, movie halls, the beach, the back of a taxi, a lodge. Verses of old Hindi film songs provide an occasional lull to the ‘war of the roses’.

Keluskar deftly takes us from a seemingly innocuous and every-day banter between a man and a woman desiring different futures to the crumbling space beneath – the unsaid – which, when it surfaces, can be unrecognisable and disturbing. When does passion cross the thin line to become violence? How long before what once tasted sweet, tastes bitter? What happens when one of the partners want to change the give-and-take equation in the relationship?

Upadhyay evokes vulnerability and assertion, as well as a latent intelligence that Kokate’s fast-talking, cynical character brushes away. Both actors throw themselves into their parts, body and soul. One jarring inconsistency is a Haryanvi (played by Himanshu Kohli) driving a Mumbai kaali-peeli.

Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil is a departure from Keluskar’s 2015 existential thriller Kaul (which also screened at MAMI) and is likely to provoke debate because sometimes, when reality bites, the wound is deep and painful.

Updated Date: Oct 29, 2018 14:16 PM