Film: Jawaani Jaaneman
Director: Nitin Kakkar
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Alaya F, Tabu, Kumud Mishra and Kubra Sait
A commitment-phobic man, whose life is as jazzy as his name Jazz, suddenly discovers he has a 21-year-old daughter. For someone, who believes in flying solo and loves his ‘no strings attached’ freedom a tad too much, the revelation is like a double whammy especially since the daughter in question is pregnant too.
From a single, who loves to mingle, he is suddenly saddled with the prospect of becoming a naana. As far as concepts go Jawaani Jaaneman is quirky and not the kind of theme Indian cinema regularly forays into. A slice of modern family for sure but with the Punjabi tadka.
An official remake of the Argentinean comedy Igualita A Mi, this one may not boast of an original idea but is an adaptation, which works well. The fact that the tale unfolds in foreign lands, London it is, where casual sex is as much a reality as unwed mothers, helps to contextualise it just right. Clearly, there are no moral judgments involved here.
But as with most relationship movies, we know too well the initial reluctance of the father (to accept the daughter) is soon going to melt away. When it does, it melts your hearts too. The popular Punjabi folk song Kinha jameeyan kinha le jaaneyan interjected in between does seem like an imposition but also drives in the strength of the father daughter bond.
Undeniably, the father-daughter relationship here is the pivot, rather cute, uncommon and above all heart-warming. A father telling his daughter that she is his first love…well pure emotions can’t get better than this. Of course, there is a romantic angle too, couched as friendship.
Kubra Sait of Sacred Games fame gets a fair chunk of screen time and does not disappoint at all. Kumud Mishra as the understanding, somewhat impish brother is in fine form. Tabu, playing the bohemian meditation-obsessed mother, perks up the proceedings the moment she arrives on the scene though rather late in the film.
Even in a guest appearance she leaves a mark. Only she can use the word sambhog without batting an eyelid and without making us squirm in our seats. But, of course, the film belongs to the father-daughter duo (played by Saif Ali Khan and Alaya F).
Pooja Bedi’s daughter Alaya is refreshingly lovely, like a ray of sunshine and pleasant breeze and makes an impression in her debut film. Saif keeps us truly engaged, with his easy flirtatious/playboy ways and his middle-age complex. His refusal to accept his advancing years is evident as much in his repeated visits to the salon as cussedness to admit his ‘dyed hair colour’ status. And his emotive father act is rather convincing.
This isn’t the first time that we get to see the father in him enact with such finesse. In The Chef too, he played an affectionate father you simply warm up to. In Jawani, he tugs at your heart-strings slowly and gently. So does the film, which doesn’t have laugh-out-loud moments but tickles you in a delicate intelligent way.
The daughter introducing her parents to each other with a rider “hey this is really embarrassing” is one among many of those moments that add to the breezy tenor of the film. Sure, the tone is light-hearted, carefree and fun.
Only don’t be misled by the title. Jawaani Jaaneman is no rollicking romp. Nor is it likely to make you roll in laughter. Nevertheless, warm and mellow, intelligent and funny, quaint and tender, here unconventional meets the familiar in many charming ways.