Jawaani Jaaneman movie review: Saif Ali Khan takes jibes at middle age head on, Alaya F makes assured debut
Jawaani Jaaneman is a role tailor-made for Saif Ali Khan, and he plays it with glee.
castSaif Ali Khan, Alaya F, Tabu, Kumud Mishra, Chunky Pandey, Kubbra Sait, Farida Jalal
A commitment-phobic, unmarried middle-aged Punjabi man in London misreads a nightclub pick up. After a routine of drinking, dancing and meaningless hook-ups, Jazz (Saif Ali Khan) meets his match in an uber-confident Tia (Alaya F). While he sets his apartment to seduction mode (mirror ball, mood lighting, and white wine), she has other things on her mind.
The girl with a wide smile and endless enthusiasm reveals there is a 33.33 percent chance he is her estranged father. Director Nitin Kakkar’s love story follows all the beats of a basic romantic comedy, except that the love is paternal.
Although crediting Argentinian feature Igaulita A Mi, writers Hussain Dalal and Abbas Dalal mash up other films from the genre. Among them, Mama Mia, where a Bohemian mother (Meryl Streep, replaced by Tabu) reveals any one of three men could be her daughter’s father.
In Jawaani Jaaneman, a DNA test will establish whether 21-year-old Tia’s gamble of coming from Amsterdam to London in search of her father has paid off. As the doctor with the DNA test results, Kiku Sharda ups the tempo in a comedy that depends wholly on Saif Ali Khan. It turns out to be a buy-one-get-one-free result. Not only does Jazz discover he is a father, but that he is going to become a grandfather too.
Unwilling to compromise on his carefully curated minimalist (he appears to have only two friends, and a limited wardrobe of rock band fan T-shirts) yet hedonistic life, Jazz gently but firmly pushes Tia away, pregnancy and all. Whenever he recovers from his hangover, he focuses on his day job as a real estate broker.
Soaking in alcohol and barely bothering to remember the name of his hook-ups is the cloak Jazz wears to mask loneliness. In all this, Tia is getting on with her life while lurking on the periphery of Jazz’s life.
Khan has played the party-loving, commitment-shy urban young man several times. This time, he takes on an age-appropriate role, where that same fellow from Salaam Namaste and Cocktail is now dying his hair, coming to terms with a mid-life crisis while holding on to a colourful past. His enduring relationships are with his brother and business partner Dimpy (Kumud Mishra), nightclub owner buddy Rocky (Chunky Pandey, unable to shake off Aakhri Pasta’s accent from the Housefull franchise even as a Londoner), and hairstylist (Kubbra Sait).
Khan is charming and funny, and takes the jokes about middle age head on. It is a role tailor-made for him, and he plays it with glee. Alaya makes an assured debut. She gets a finely written character. It is refreshing to see an emancipated Indian girl living her life without fearing judgment, and Alaya manages to convey Tia’s longing as well as her self-belief.
Tabu injects energy into the latter scenes as Tia’s new-age mother who curls up her nose as she senses bad energy in Jazz’s apartment. One feels cheated for seeing her in a short parody role but Tabu is a hoot, and does not waste a moment.
A side-plot about a housing redevelopment project does not fit in smoothly but otherwise, Kakkar steers clear of chest-thumping melodrama and old-school moralising. The content is mostly flippant with a few meaningful moments punctuating an easy-breezy coming-of-age story about a modern Indian family.
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