Jaanu movie review: Samantha Akkineni as Jaanu is as elegant as Trisha in 96.
Jaanu movie cast: Samantha Akkineni, Sharwanand
Jaanu movie director: C Prem Kumar
Jaanu movie rating: 3 stars
Director C Prem Kumar's Jaanu is a frame-by-frame remake of his hit Tamil movie 96. Majority of the shots, speaking lines, music and background score have remained the same. The only stark difference between Jaanu and its inspiration is the film's new star cast. And yes, now that the director has a big producer like Dil Raju backing the project, Prem has flown down his team to foreign locations. He has got few shots of his forlorn protagonist K. Ramachandra aka Ram (Sharwanand) wandering the poverty-stricken streets of an African country.
Is there any other interesting way that Prem could retell this story? Maybe, yes. But, there is no other way to tell this story, if all the director wants is to evoke the same emotional and nostalgic response from the audience. He was clearly not ready to risk his legacy by experimenting with the beautiful memory piece about high-school romance.
96 was the directorial debut of Prem. People bought the ticket for 96 because the film for the first time had Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha sharing screen space. We were not ready for what Prem had in store for us. And I am glad that Raju retained Prem to helm the remake. I can't imagine another director who can move us by simply having old-friends catching up with each other on a WhatsApp group. Prem doesn't rush through the scene as it would have made the scene very clumsy and half-baked. He handles the scene with the confidence of a swashbuckling hero, making overtures towards his romantic interest.
Prem digs his heels in every scene and allows the audience to breathe in the moments, where grown-ups become children and bounce down the memory lane.
Samantha Akkineni as Jaanu is as elegant as Trisha in 96. However, Sharwanand comes up short in comparison with Vijay Sethupathi, who embodied the romantic pain. The benchmark is simply too high.
And in 96, Ram and Janu spend an evening together catching up on all developments in their individual lives, and unravelling truths in the process and making peace with their regrets. Even as their friends fear otherwise, we know they both won't have an affair. Because Ram's devotion to Jaanu is stronger than any other sensation. It is only Jaanu who can't stop herself from indulging in emotional infidelity.
In the Telugu remake, however, the intimate tension between Ram and Jaanu felt a bit high. It is because Sharwanand doesn't imbue his character with detachment and unsentimentality like Vijay Sethupathi.
Jaanu did not pull me in by surprise like the original Tamil movie. It felt like I was sitting in a revision class. But, I am thankful that the remake did not dishonour the memory of 96. Especially, the scene at the coffee shop, where Jaanu reimagines what-might-have-been had she met Ram when he visited her in college. That scene is as effective as the original, courtesy actor Gouri G Kishan and composer Govind Vasantha. The scene got me good.