Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Alaya F, Kubbra Sait, Kumud Mishra, Chunky Pandey, Tabu
Director: Nitin Kakkar
Some men refuse to grow up. They love to be ‘manboys', refuse to ‘settle down’, all because they think marriage and kids would encumber them with responsibilities and tie them down.
Saif Ali Khan plays Jaswinder Singh aka Jazz, who chooses to live FREE, which basically means not being accountable for anything. The film initially introduces him as a party animal — his evenings are spent partying at a friend’s (Chunky Pandey’s) club and dating younger (let me add, much younger) women. Obviously, none of the relationships are serious and are just his way of reinforcing that he has unbridled freedom.
A little later in the film, we realise that it isn’t just his love life that Jazz is careless about; whether it is showing up for a work meeting or paying his bills on time — our hero doesn’t believe in prioritising these mundane chores. Shirking onus is his way of life and his way of assuring himself that he has managed to stay on top of his game and remain young (at heart, at least).
Jazz seems to have it completely figured out. All until a young girl, Tia (Alaya F), shows up and informs him that there’s a 33.33 per cent chance that he is her father. The reason she can’t say for certain is because her mother (Tabu) isn’t completely sure who was responsible for the pregnancy.
A quick DNA test proves that Jazz is, in fact, her father and the results also show that the 21-year-old Tia is herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child. You can imagine what a shock all this is for Jazz, whose painstakingly-crafted unrestrained way of life is now facing the rather grave scenarios of not just fatherhood, but grandfather-hood. So much for his carefully dyed hair and well maintained physique!
The director steers clear of melodrama or moral policing and fortunately, we don’t get lectures on why a single young girl shouldn’t embrace motherhood. All of that is handled without much fuss. Jazz is supportive of his daughter’s decision to keep the child but doesn’t feel obligated to provide logistical/emotional support. He advises her to return to her mother in Amsterdam. Tia however, would rather have a child in India than rely on her ‘hippie’ mom, who spends months on yoga tours and meditation clinics, during which she doesn’t even respond to phone calls or texts.
The plot has an interesting premise and the main actors are both effortless in their parts. Saif is completely convincing as someone who refuses to conform to any rules. It is amusing that Saif, who featured in the original ‘Ole Ole’ song (‘Yeh Dillagi', 1994) reprises the hit number in a remix in ‘Jawaani Jaaneman’ — indeed he has come a long way in Bollywood. He played a flirt then, he plays a Casanova now and essays a convincing portrayal.
Alaya shows immense potential in her first film. She’s a natural and its actually difficult to imagine that this is her first outing on the big screen. Even though the comparison might be unfair but I remember her mother Pooja Bedi’s Marilyn Monroe act in ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander’ and I must say, that Alaya’s performance is definitely more competent.
Unfortunately, the film doesn’t strengthen the storytelling by developing the supporting characters better. There was immense talent at disposal here, but Tabu, Chunky Pandey, Farida Jalal are wasted in parts that are just not fleshed out well enough. Chunky is used as a mere prop, his comic timing totally wasted. Tabu is introduced too late in the scheme of things and she had such an interesting personality in the film but there just wasn’t enough opportunity for the audience to savour her portrayal.
The only other character given enough scope is the one played by Kubraa Sait and she does a commendable job as the voice of reason in Jazz’s life.
‘Jawaani Jaaneman’ is a short and sweet comedy that had the potential to be much more. A more thoughtful script and better character development could have really lifted the narrative. It still scores for keeping the melodrama to the minimum and introducing Alaya to us. Here’s hoping she picks her future projects wisely.