Janhit Mein Jaari movie review: One of the most hilarious movies of the year, ruined by unnecessary drama
Janhit Mein Jaari review: Nushrratt Bharuccha's latest movie kicks off with such promise and delight, it's a shame to witness it dig itself into a hole by the second half.
Janhit Mein Jaari, the latest offering in Bollywood's PSA-but-comedy genre, kicks off so well, it's not even funny. Actually it is, very much so. Directed by Jai Basantu Singh and expertly written by Raaj Shaandilyaa (of Dream Girl), the film is so unexpectedly brilliant in the first half, it seems too good to be true. Therefore, they throw it off a steep, steep cliff in the second half in one of the most brutal murders of a good movie seen in recent past. (Also read: The Broken News review: Sonali Bendre makes strong return, but this run-of-the-mill thriller is saved by Jaideep Ahlawat)
At all times until the second half, Janhit Mein Jaari feels like a collection of Raju Shrivastav's greatest hits woven into a narrative. Nushrratt Bharuccha plays a woman from Chanderi struck by acute berozgaari and threats of marriage from her parents. As a solution to both her problems, she finds employment at a condom-manufacturing company and complications in the plot, as you would imagine, write themselves. She manages to not just prove herself great at her job but also finds a loving, supportive husband. However, her very conservative in-laws might not be the happiest to know about what's paying for their new car and the Western style commode.
Where Raaj Shaandilyaa's writing shines is actually in turning the simplest scenes into rib-tickling gold with his earthy, small town jokes about women with rods in their legs, cheeky old men knocking on heaven's door, a friend knee-deep in the 'friendzone', and the sweet flavour of Bundelkhandi mixed in every peripheral actor's tone. It is just too undeniably hilarious to hear anyone yell ‘transformer phukk gao’ when the electricity goes out. The grounded, authentic phrases add so much ease to the comedy that Raaj must have set out to write. Not everyone gets it right, not even the Ayushmann Khurrana genre of small town comedies (expect the OG Dum Laga Ke Haisha).
However, the authentic tone that the film nurses to life in the first part in torn (almost) to shreds in the second one. Grounded humour is replaced with untethered, high drama about girls dying of abortions, statistics on women's health and griha-kalesh served without an ounce of subtlety. Dramatic music hammers in the sharp, ‘serious’ hairpin bend the film takes even before you can settle back into your seats post the interval. And because an awakened conscience wasn't enough challenge for our heroine to deal with, disapproving in-laws and a spineless husband add to her troubles. While even the early romance between Nushrratt and newcomer Anud Singh Dhaka seemed wispy, sweet and organic (despite tall claims about the moral fibre of middle class boys), nothing seems real about their fights or patch-ups as a married couple. The constant tussle with the dad-in-law, a furious and chappal-launching Vijay Raaz, also get really old, really quickly.
While the writing gets worse, the actors pull their weight deftly, throughout. Nushrratt does the job well enough but it is usually others in the elaborate cast of moms and dads and heartbroken friend and charming boyfriend, the drama-loving tailor, the horny octogenarian, the gossipy Narad Muni-type of the mohalla and Tinu Anand (yup), who leave a lasting impression. It is only to their credit that even when the writers suddenly decide to add a random, misplaced joke after 15 minutes of heavy preaching and lessons in morality, it still draws in faint laughter from those watching.
Janhit Mein Jaari could have made for a great, easy watch had it continued on the course it set out on. It ended up yet another cautionary tale on why more is not always better.