Rating: 2-1/2 stars
So, for a change Bollywood is trawling through world cinema for inspiration, and alights in Argentina to pick the 2010 Diego Kaplan comedy, Igualita A Mi to remake (officially) as Jawaani Jaaneman, directed by Nitin Kakkar. Saif Ali Khan is one of the producers and it’s easy to see why the role of a forty plus Casanova would attract him. He is just playing an older version of the character he has done so many times in the past.
Jassi aka Jazz (Khan) lives and lusts in London (though he and everybody else speaks Punjabi-accented Hindi), because, well, real Indians are sanskaari, no? Which munda from a good family would move from bar to bedroom with a succession of tipsy girls, while his earnest brother (Kumud Mishra) tries to keep the real estate business together. Jazz is almost broke, but still frequents a salon to colour his hair and vent to the hairdresser Rhea (Kubra Sait).
Then, his life is upended when a young girl Tia (Alaya F— still too raw) he is making his moves on, turns out to be his daughter. Jazz did not know of her existence; she was born of a brief encounter with Ananya (Tabu) in Amsterdam, and the free-spirited, weed-smoking hippie did not bother to tell him, because she “hates telephones.” Jazz was not exactly a runaway father, but the arrival of Tia—who also happens to be pregnant—cramps his style. Not to mention the shock of skipping the dad bit and going straight to granddad!
The film is amusing till this idea is stretched for laughs—and nobody does a WTF expression better than Saif Ali Khan. Then it starts getting all sentimental, going into loving-your-family and the neighbourhood tree (really!) zone. And frankly, when the film gets huffy about irresponsible lifestyles it’s boring; more so because it treats having and raising kids as something of a joke. Besides, which doctor looks at a sonograph, and says, “It’s amazing!” with such awe. So that even for a girl brought up in Europe by an unconventional mom, marrying a drippy boyfriend seems preferable to being an unwed mother, or horrors! terminating the pregnancy.
Anyway, while watching a film as silly as Jawaani Janeeman, thinking about gender politics is a waste of time. It’s quite enough to watch Saif Ali Khan hit his groove again, after a string of missteps in choice of roles. Only he can dance wearing a candy striped bathrobe and not make the audience cringe.