From his entry into the Bollywood film industry in 1993, Saif Ali Khan has played a wide variety of roles. In fact, he is one of the few mainstream Bollywood actors who take huge in playing non-conformist characters. But coming straight from the success of “Tanhaji” which was preceded by the semi-flop “Lal Kaptaan,” Saif as an actor and a producer in “Jawaani Jaaneman” goes back to doing what he does best—playing the ladies’ man, the cool dude, the Casanova, the ‘man-child’ with commitment issues.
Be it his first commercial success “Yeh Dillagi” (1994) with Akshay Kumar through which he Oley Oleyed into limelight or the box-office successes “Hum Tum” (2004) and “Salaam Namaste” (2005), Saif has excelled in playing the urban alpha male with suave. And in this latest release, he reprises his character into making this light-hearted, PG comedy “Jawaani Jaaneman.”
Directed by Nitin Kakkar, Saif stars as Jaswinder “Jazz” Singh, a London-based real estate broker who lives a happy bachelor life. Jazz is this upper-middle class, 40-something dude who doesn’t have to put in a lot of effort at work, has the self-proclaimed ‘swag’, is a serial womanizer, parties almost every night and is terrified of commitments or any changes in his life. Seemingly, he is oblivious to his growing age too.
But the real story starts when he ‘picks up’ a 21-year-old “Tia” (Aliya Furniturewala) from the bar with all the wrong intent and she in turn surprises him by revealing that he might have 33.33 percent chance of being her dad. It won’t be a spoiler to let the audience know that Jazz eventually turns out to be Tia’s father, and Tia is pregnant with her ex-boyfriend. The film’s intent is not to keep secrets from the audience but reveal conflicting situations in the characters’ lives after these shocks.
With witty writing and equally fitting performances, JJ is an entertaining comedy that explores different realms of life such as the struggles of a single mother, the stress of fatherhood, the impact of dysfunctional families on children, and how lives change with the addition of a family member. The story is set in London to conveniently place it away from the orthodox Indian society. Had the setting been India, the story would perhaps have evolved differently, without much scope for comedy, we dare say.
As mentioned earlier, Saif is at completely home in the movie. Saif’s Jazz comes across as natural as his “Karan Kapoor” in Hum Tum, which also won him multiple awards including the National Film Award, and “Nikhil Arora” in Salaam Namaste. He does show a few signs of ageing, but with that also comes the maturity through which he handles emotional scenes.
Debutant Aliya also gets an impactful character and is probably the most successful newcomer in her age group. A string of star kids have entered Bollywood in 2019/2020 and so far only Aliya (daughter of actress Pooja Bedi and granddaughter to movie veteran Kabir Bedi), has been able to give a promising performance. The actress as the young Tia—who is out on a journey to find her biological father and is overwhelmed with happiness when she finally finds him, but also gets a big shock on discovering her pregnancy—knows how to rightly portray the mixed emotions without over-dramatization. There is definitely room for improvement but only time can shape those acting skills, if Bollywood is kind enough to give her more space.
The only complain about the film is that the makers put way too much stress on certain scenes and sequences, making the movie slightly lengthy and close to boring. It definitely feel unnecessarily stretched out. Also, the story gives too little space and too little significance to Ananya (Tabu), Tia’s mother. The audience don’t get enough time to know her. An actress of Tabu’s caliber definitely deserves more space.
Who should watch it?
The 1hr 59mins long movie, albeit tardy at times, is definitely an entertainer. Underdog as he is, we believe Saif does have his fans and for a Saif fan, this is the best zone he could be in.