As difficult as it is to believe, I think my hair turned a little more grey while watching Jaan-e-mann this week. Walking out of the cinema as the lights came back, I felt like I’d been in there for what seemed like an eternity.
Debutant director Shirish Kunder’s sweeping romantic saga stars Salman Khan as a failed actor who’s lost pretty much everything including his lovely wife Preity Zinta because of his own foolishness. The two are now divorced and stay in different parts of the world – him in Mumbai, her in New York – but Salman can’t cough up the alimony he must pay her.
He figures the only way he can escape that responsibility is if Preity were to remarry. So Salman sets out to help simple simon Akshay Kumar in wooing Preity and just when she begins falling for Akshay, Salman himself starts falling in love with Preity again.
Much in the tradition of most David Dhawan no-brainers, Jaan-e-mann, too, is intended as a masala entertainer with ample doses of romance, comedy and drama. But because it’s built on a ridiculous premise, the plot of Jaan-e-mann and its amateurish screenplay are really the film’s biggest shortcomings.
Full of holes from start to finish, the script leaves so many basic questions unanswered – why doesn’t Akshay realise that it’s Preity’s ex-husband who’s been helping him win over Preity even after she tells him in such detail about her marriage and subsequent divorce?
How can Preity be demanding alimony from Salman when she doesn’t even know where he is and what he’s up to after they separate? In such technologically advanced times as these, why is Salman sending correspondence by snail mail when a simple email or a text message would have done the trick? And really, if Preity’s brother has been hiding Salman’s letters from her, surely you’d have expected him to find a safer hiding place than a spot in the library that even a family friend knows about.
But I can’t believe I’m searching for logic in a film like this!
If you’re looking for merits, then here’s one – director Shirish Kunder who’s also credited with writing the film, uses such an interesting narrative structure to tell his story. Like that stunning Broadway-style song that’s used to recount an entire flashback portion. Or even that silly song in the second half when Kunder cuts between Preity’s family urging her to accept Akshay’s proposal, and Salman getting his life back into order.
Kunder’s biggest accomplishment here is in putting together a fantastic technical team and exploiting them to deliver their most imaginative work. Choreographer Farah Khan, cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee and composer Anu Malik collaborate to create some of the most remarkable song sequences that are a visual spectacle in every sense of the word.
Of the principal cast, Preity Zinta looks a million bucks, but she’s got the shortest role of the three, which is odd considering the entire story revolves around her. The actress brings a quiet dignity to the role and exercises restraint in her performance, lending her character the maturity that it requires.
Akshay Kumar is inspired and performs competently, but he’s clearly overshadowed by Salman Khan who steals the show in the second half with moments that will leave your eyes welling with tears. He touches your heart with his emotional scenes and proves again that he’s so underrated.
Generously inspired by such Hollywood films as Addicted To Love, There’s Something About Mary, My Big Fat Greek Wedding and the hit sitcom Friends, Shirish Kunder’s Jaan-e-mann is hardly great cinema. But it does raise a few laughs even if the humour is sometimes puerile as are those midget jokes directed at Anupam Kher.
With a better script, Jaan-e-mann could have been a far better film. But because it ends up a fantastic looking film with very little inside, it is ultimately only average fare.
Jaan-e-mann is a fine directorial accomplishment but a failure in the writing department. Watch it nevertheless, because it’s Diwali and because every now and then some senseless entertainment is not a bad thing.