Mumbai, 31 Jan 2020 16:30 IST
Nitin Kakkar's urban-niche comedy sees Saif Ali Khan in scene-stealing form while Alaya F makes an impressive debut.
There are actors who enjoy themselves the most when they are unrecognizable on screen and there are actors who are defined by the characters they play. Saif Ali Khan belongs to the latter group.
Khan might be edging into the fifties, but he seems to have hit a purple patch in his creative pursuits. In Nitin Kakkar's Jawaani Jaaneman, he rolls back time to play the ageing playboy who suddenly gets the shock of his life. Funny, breezy and entertaining, Kakkar's film is a welcome change of pace from the nationalistic dramas that seem to have become the vogue in Hindi cinema.
Jassi aka Jazz (Saif Ali Khan) is the ageing lothario who refuses to let time diminish his thirst for life. From dyeing his hair to taking the cycle to work and wearing ice-cold eye patches, he does everything to stop the incessant march of time. He slacks off paying the bills and rent but never misses a night out at the pub and a chance to hit on women. So, when the girl he is trying to hit on tells him that she might be his daughter, Jazz freaks out.
The girl, Tia (Alaya F), is as independent as Jazz, and quite comfortable at finding such an irresponsible father. But her sense of security is hit hard when she discovers that she is pregnant as well, and has no clue how to go on with life. Thus, these two misfits struggle to piece together the puzzle that is their life.
Kakkar's film is filled with moments of light-hearted banter and witty remarks that feel natural and flow at an easy pace. The screenplay works well through the drama, without laying it on too thick. It occasionally falters towards the latter part of the second half, but that's because it tries too hard to project the change in Jazz.
There are moments that feel forced. One such is the discovery of Rocky (Chunky Pandey), another ageing bachelor who falls prey to a stroke, leading to Jazz's moment of epiphany. The other character that could have been done away with is Tia's boyfriend, who exists only for the sake of comic interlude.
Yet, filled with some well-crafted characters and with an engaging story set around these characters, the film makes up for these little deviations.
The interesting way in which Kakkar plays out the story, as a romance between father and daughter, with their little dates, and discovering the long-lost love for each other is sweet. Hindi films that portray the father-daughter relationship as a partnership between equals are rare. It is through his daughter that Jazz discovers the people around him. In that, the film manages to find the moral centre which could otherwise have left it far too light.
Saif Ali Khan is in fine form as the playboy who refuses to accept his age. The confusions, shocks, insecurity and final epiphany are etched well and portrayed well through the actor's expressions. Khan's performance, while whacky and entertaining, also has a mature refinement.
Alaya F makes an impressive debut with her performance as the mature, grounded Tia. The actress hits the right emotional points as a lost young woman looking for her father, without losing her own sense of self. Expressive and natural, she forms interesting chemistry with Khan, adding to the film's highlights.
Of the supporting cast, Kubbra Sait breezes in with another wonderful turn as the platonic friend-turned-love interest. She is the emotional anchor for Jazz, his hairstylist-cum-philosopher in a way. The actress looked the right fit for the role, and delivers it with spellbinding ease.
Quite like Khan, Tabu brings in a hilarious cameo as the hippie-yoga mother, Ananya. As the spaced-out woman who walks in and out on a whim, the actress is delightful in her performance. The clash of the two distinct sensibilities between her and Khan makes for some really funny moments.
Jawaani Jaaneman might not be a social drama heavy on message or have any national interest going for it, but it is a fun film with excellent performers in a good, engaging story.
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