Jaane Jaan review: Even spectacular Kareena Kapoor, Vijay Varma, Jaideep Ahlawat cannot save this disjointed thriller
Jaane Jaan review: Kareena Kapoor, Jaideep Ahlawat and Vijay Varma star in Sujoy Ghosh's latest murder mystery set in Kalimpong.
The benchmark that Sujoy Ghosh created for himself with the Vidya Balan-starrer Kahaani is tough to match. And it's evident in most of his subsequent projects where he donned the director's hat. With Jaane Jaan, the trailer raised high hopes, and things looked pretty exciting, but the film barely manages to live up to that hype or even come close to the intrigue quotient it set out to create. (Also read: Jaane Jaan producer says Kareena Kapoor worked like a ‘thorough professional’ as she shot film after birth of Jehangir)
Half way into Jaane Jaan, and I was convinced that even Ghosh knew this is not among his best works, but maybe he relied too much on the weight his actors — Kareena Kapoor Khan, Jaideep Ahlawat and Vijay Varma — hold, and he let them carry the entire film on their shoulders without bothering much about where the story is headed.
And if there's anything that saves Jaane Jaan from sinking, it is the impeccable performances from this trio. Collectively, they offer a satisfying experience to moviegoers. If I had to just watch them perform without thinking about the what, why and how, Jaane Jaan would have been a perfect watch. But the film falters in more departments than one, and it's hard to ignore. While I have little complains from Ghosh's dedication as a director, Jaane Jaan definitely needed more pace, more depth and nuances for it to hit you hard, which it never does, barring maybe one scene about physical abuse.
An official adaptation of the 2005 Japanese novel The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino, the thriller has all the elements you'd expect to see in the said genre, but the treatment they get, and the unfolding of events looks just so disjointed. From the crime being committed, to the motive behind helping the culprit, it doesn't take a lot to solve the mystery, which ends up being a mere showcase of some spectacular performances.
The story traces Maya D'Souza (Kareena Kapoor Khan) who moved to Kalimpong in West Bengal years ago with her daughter Tara (Naisha Khanna) and runs a cafe. On one fateful night, while she is trying to cover up the murder of her estranged husband Ajit Mhatre (Saurabh Sachdeva), she encounters her gifted but awkward neighbour, Naren aka Teacher (Jaideep Ahlawat), who readily comes on board to help her for motives best known to him. Soon, a crime investigation begins and relentless cop Karan Anand (Vijay Anand) arrives on scene, who must reach the bottom of this case and uncover the truth. Even though he has just one suspect in Maya, all evidences are in her favour, so no arrest can be made. How does Karan unravel the mystery? Does Maya manage to steer away from the crime investigation? Why was Teacher helping Maya? All these questions find answers over the course of nearly two hours.
The story that Ghosh has co-written with Raj Vasant generates a decent amount of curiosity to begin with, and it builds nicely as it pans out, but soon, it goes downhill and loses focus. Despite so much unfolding on screen, including some gory details, somehow, you never feel that adrenaline rush a murder mystery or a thriller of this scale and with such a stellar cast, is expected to offer. Also, Jaane Jaan falls victim to way too many giveaways during the course of its screenplay. For instance, one of the flashback sequences early on in the script tells me one of the big reveals, which could have been saved for the climax. There are some very convenient coincidences that appear to only exist for the sake of it, and they never really drive the narrative.
I really wished there was some deep, nuanced and well thought of story behind everyone's actions. Ghosh actually gives us a single line to tell us Kareena's back story, coupled with a few flashback sequences that leave you with more questions than giving answers. For Jaideep's character arc as well, there was so much more to include and make it way more interesting than how it was laid out. Vijay, in fact, gets the most step motherly treatment when it comes to having a depth to his character. Don't know if was deliberate, or just didn't fit in with the other two lead actors.
Nevertheless, the ace performers bring their A-game forward and manage to keep you hooked to the screen. Kareena steps out of her comfort zone to play this complex character that's immensely strong and extremely vulnerable at the same time. As a single mother, she adds a dimension to her character that strikes an emotional chord. In a scene where she's singing the classic title track, she adds a dash of sensuality without making it look off with the storyline.
Then there's Jaideep, who masters his scenes like no other. I really want to see if there's anything this man cannot pull off with so much ease and conviction. Playing a gifted math teacher, who usually spends time staking his neighbour or looking up ways to cure his early balding, there is a sense of eccentricity and mischief attached to his character, and each time he comes on screen, you start guessing his next move.
Lastly, Vijay is the eye-candy in the film, as Lin Laishram's character tells Maya, 'Woh dekh, handsome man'. As the cop, Vijay isn't your conventional man in uniform, and uses his charm and flirtatious tactics to dig out details from his suspects. Even in the most serious scenes, he would add his wit or a punch line that lands just perfectly. Despite such brilliantly effortless performances, Jaane Jaan remains an average thriller that keeps you waiting for the big reveal in the climax, alas it never comes, or whatever is there, is too little too late.
In fact, in the climax sequence, when the whole mystery solving is being narrated through a series of flashbacks, or when the pieces of the puzzle finally start coming together, you realise the puzzle never existed in the first place, and it was just a series of events unfolding to make some sense of what we watched for the last two hours.
Watch Jaane Jaan for some of the best acting chops on display, and to figure how Ghosh could have adapted this novel differently to make it more hard-hitting. The film is now streaming on Netflix.