Producer: Venus Records & Tapes
Mansoor Khan
Shahrukh Khan, Sharad Kapoor, Chandrachur Singh, Aishwarya Rai
Anu Malik

Released on : June 09, 2000

Reviewed by: Sunder

out of 
After Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Akele Hum Akele Tum -JOSH is the fourth movie directed by Mansoor Khan, who is said to be an academic topper from IIT. But unlike the academic intellectual titles of the first three, JOSH is not a four letter acronym for a long expressive title. It is a "four-letter word" for a movie that was four years in the making. It is a short and energetic title for a movie designed to be high on life and energy. And like the title, the movie keeps itself crisp and brief.

So much for the high energy title, at the end of the movie one would perhaps realize that high energy is not always a good. That is also a message that the movie professes, through the character of Father in the church. Does that sound cliched? Well, engineers and IITians cannot always think outside the box. They sometimes think sitting outside, in front, of an idiot box - watching some yesteryear classic. That is perhaps what Mansoor Khan did, before scripting Josh based on the 1960s classic WEST SIDE STORY. I am surprised that a script so close to Hindi masala took four decades to come to the east.

Jokes apart, the movie encourages you to sprint with the movie in the hope of catching a bus heading to a lively picnic. But, at the end, when you catch up with the bus - the picnic proves a damp squib. Dampness could not be avoided, with a story set in Goa - that has to be hot, humid, and inspiring the lead players to let the heat get to them, or cool off romancing the beaches.

The movie revolves around twins Max (Shahrukh) and Shirley (Aishwarya), their brother-sister relationship on the west side (they being in Goa - on the west coast of India). The east or the other side comprises Prakash (Sharad Kapoor) and Rahul (Chandrachur Singh). Prakash and Max head rival street gangs, and as one would expect - Rahul and Shirley detail interval love songs. Their songs do make short intervals - in the midst of an otherwise pacy narrative.

For a cliched storyline, Mansoor Khan carries the film well - well into the second half - but to finish weakly. Mansoor Khan could effectively lead the ordinary family drama in AHAT into a powerful courtroom finale; but he fails in choosing to take street fights into the court. Violence, without being explicit or graphic, conveys the Josh in the film - and that is sadly missing in the climax. Especially, for anyone who has seen the original inspiration, the meek "trying to be happy" end leaves you a little disappointed.

However, the movie has some strengths that make it fairly watchable. Performances of all key players contribute. Chandrachur is mostly pleasant, Sharad Kapoor does his role with competence without really standing out, and Priya Gill plays her small part well. The real stars are in the brother-sister pairing of Shahrukh and Aishwarya, who quite simply excel, and they would be expected to. They carry off their roles with such elan, that one wonders if the script limited them from doing any better. The portrayal of the brother-sister relationship is surely a highlight of the movie, besides their individual characterization.

Apart from performances, K V Anand scores with some innovative work with the camera - that captures a lot of Josh. Anu Malik scores with some nice numbers, though he runs our of Josh towards the end (like the film). The dialogues, mixing Goan, with accented Hindi, sprinkling of English, and a lot of street lingo - is quite brilliant - and blends lively humor into the narrative.

Mansoor succeeds as a director in keeping the movie fast and interesting, though it is the characters who come out much stronger than the movie. When you start liking a movie for the actors, the performances, and the presentation - and not for the story, it indicates that the director has not quite succeeded fully.

On the flip side, the direction falters at many points - and increasingly often in the second half. Songs come as misfits, frequency of cliches increase, and the climax comes unstuck in the courtroom and not the beachside sand - making the picnic a damp squib. One feels that the bus heading for a picnic on the beach broke down on the highway.