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For a while now in Bollywood cinema, the growth of the multiplex concept has resulted in the arrival of genre films. Hence, we now have sci-fi, thrillers, suspense, children's cinema, teen-comedies, love stories etc - and not all rolled into one.
Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na is a genre film. A simple, sweet, teen-comedy that marks the debut of Aamir Khan's nephew Imran Khan. Unlike his uncle's debut in the classic QSQT, which had women across India writing love notes to Aamir in their blood, Imran's beginning will probably not generate THAT sort of frenzy.
However, comparisons are unfair and while Imran Khan lacks the star presence of his uncle or the likes of Hrithik Roshan, he does well in a film that will be remembered and appreciated for its freshness, earnestness and honesty.
Imran in numerous interviews has stated that Jaane Tu was not his film, but a group film. And the young man is absolutely right in crediting his co-actors. It is a group film about a group of college kids and the typical group dynamics that goes with that strange territory of high-school or college.
Jai Singh Rathore (Imran Khan), Aditi (Genelia), Jignesh Patel (Nirav Mehta), Sandhya (Aliskha Varde), Shaleen (Sughanda) and Rotlu (Karan) are part of the college gang in focus.
Jai and Aditi are best friends within the group. Rotlu likes Aditi. Sandhya likes Jai. But, Jai and Aditi like each other - in that platonic sort of way. Given the tagline of the film asks us when do we know it's love, the plot is a real no-brainer. In a nutshell, it traces the journey of Jai and Aditi discovering that they're actually in love.
The end is no surprise, but in this case it's the means to arriving at the end that makes Jaane Tu such a refreshing watch. The characters are real, believable and endearing. And what a relief that they actually look their age!
Abbas Tyrewala's directorial debut and the high-production values make the film easy on the eye and immensely watchable. Smart lines delivered with remarkable effortlessness by all the actors result in a real-like film that has focused on the more important elements such as casting, dialogues and details allowing us to overlook even crucial factors such as script and narration.
There's no point in over-analysing a film like Jaane Tu as it demonstrates no wannabe aspirations of cinematic greatness. It's honest in its appeal as it clearly wants to entertain and leave the viewer with a bit of nostalgia and a healthy feeling of light-heartedness that accompanies college films.
Imran Khan's debut is an honorable one, but far from a spectacular one. He will fit right into the shoes of younger characters that his uncle Aamir may have to pass, but as for his depth as an actor, he's probably still a few yards away from the deep end.
While Jaane Tu is Imran's debut vehicle, it is really Genelia who steals the show. The actress is a real livewire on screen and conveys those annoying feelings of jealousy, confusion, irritability and fake happiness without any problem.
Within the gang, who sport very Bombay nicknames such as Rats (Jai), Meow (Aditi), Bombs (Sandhya), Jiggy (Jignesh), the guys fare much better than the girls. Jiggy delights as the Gujju while Rotlu and Bombs together are smashing as the couple who discover each other as soul mates when left solo by their crushes, Jai and Aditi.
Supporting cast members like Ratna Pathak Shah as Jai's mum, Paresh Rawal as the police inspector, Naseeruddin Shah, as Jai's dead Rajput father who speaks from his portrait hold, fort magnificently.
Even the sub-plot of Jai's rite of passage as a true male Rathore from Ranjhore family by fulfilling three conditions - beating up a person, spending time in jail and riding a horse - is largely saved and made palatable by way of the safe casting of the Shahs and Arbaaz and Sohail Khan, who appear as Rathore boys in the guise of dancing cowboys.
A. R. Rahman's music is used suitably bearing the tone and theme of the film. Although his Tu Bole Main Boloon sounded eerily reminiscent of the "You Say Tomato, I Say Tomatoe" song one hummed as a child.
Sure, there are a few loose ends. Like what does Ratna Pathak Shah do other than read books, fight with policemen and talk to her dead husband? Or how does Jai get away without being shot after breaking through airport controls? But, it's all minor within the big picture.
Jaane Tu gets every aspect of human relationships right. Brother-sister through Aditi and her brother Amit, platonic friends through Aditi and Jai and parent-child through all the characters.
Perhaps the narrative could have been a little shorter and a few chapters from the gang's life could have been cut out, but chances are, you'll leave the cinema happy to have hung out with Genelia's gang, than not.