Having produced almost a dozen films to date, Producer Sajid Nadiadwala makes his most convincing and persuasive effort ever at knocking the doors of award juries with his latest endeavor, Jaan-e-Mann. Taking a debutant director, Shirish Kunder, under his wings and providing him with a liberal financial backing, Sajid has ensured that the film sports handsome visuals and appears every inch of the Broadway-inspired cinema that it claims to be. Working on the largest scale of his enterprising film-production career, Sajid’s big bucks give Jaan-e-Mann a beautiful body while Shirish’s maiden effort lends Jaan-e-Mann a flamboyant soul.
Jaan-e-Mann is a product that spells lavishness and refinement with every unfolding frame. Exquisite camerawork, prominent and innovative sets, sparkling colors; the movie walks, talks, and breaths a life of its own.
The producer’s extravagant spending spree and production genius shouldn’t take anything away from Shirish. The young man is truly the captain of the ship in every sense of the word for he handles multiple departments with considerable prowess. Be it the background music, writing, dialogues or direction, Shirish gets his basics right and exhibits an unblemished knowledge of filmmaking – something not all first-time directors can claim to have. His first attempt is quite remarkable for debutant and although he hasn’t quite made a masterpiece with Jaan-e-Mann, he surely has started in the right direction. However – he does suffer as an editor, the irony being that film editing is something that he has been the most familiar with over the years. The movie can easily do away with a song or two and a few post interval sequences as they bring the movie’s otherwise racy narrative to a screeching freeze – a deceleration that becomes a bit uneasy for the viewer at times. But fortunately, thing picks up towards the pre-climax and the movie stays on course for a swift yet satisfying culmination.
Having been envisioned as the fusion of a Broadway musical and a typical Bollywood Masala flick, Jaan-e-Mann successfully breaks away from the traditional mainstream Bollywood cinema and ironically, at the same time fits credibly into the commercial norms of Hindi Cinema. Jaan-e-Mann’s biggest strength lies in the fact the movie doesn’t pretend to be something its not. It doesn’t act intelligent and preachy and rather, stays true to its commercial convictions. At no point does it take itself or its characters seriously and that is exactly where it works. Casually walking through the lives of three people caught in a love-triangle, Jaan-e-Mann serves its very purpose of entertaining the viewer without getting overly melodramatic and thankfully, avoids ending up as just another kerchief-caper. Talking about strengths, the film is not without its fair share of weaknesses. The screenplay, at times, suffers from predictability and the dialogues could have been a lot more powerful and moving. As well, Shirish’s decision of pulling off a Karan Johar with Preity’s overly-extended yet closely-knit family and an impromptu Desi family dance number takes away from the individuality of the movie.
Besides the director’s novel vision, Jaan-e-Mann’s cause is helped tremendously by the principle performances. Salman Khan, as the suave Suhaan, is the centerpiece of the movie’s love puzzle and towers above everyone else. Having the meatiest part of all, Salman’s Suhaan makes an overwhelming impact. Bollywood’s most notorious thespian is at the top of his game yet again and springs a surprise performance that many of his detractors have always considered him incapable of. Employing his eyes to express a million words, Salman displays Suhaan’s notoriety, passion, wiliness, anguish, vulnerability and remorse with staggering belief and assurance. His transition from a conceited smug into a repenting, helpless lover speaks volumes about his immense talent that has remained untapped for most part of his career. Though he does get a bit loud in the initial reels, this is Salman’s movie from start to finish and had it not been for his controlled outing, Jaan-e-Mann wouldn’t be even half the movie it has turned out to be.
Akshay Kumar, playing Agastya, lends able support to Salman and holds his own as the blindly-in-lover, timid, low-on-confidence nerd. Primarily being an actor fitting the mould of a macho-hero, surprisingly, Agastya comes naturally to Akshay and he delivers an extremely likeable performance. But he still seems uneasy when it comes to shedding tears on screen. Having said that, Akshay’s naïve Agastya provides the perfect foil for Salman’s bratty Suhaan and their on-screen partnership makes for a fun watch.
Preity Zinta looks as if she has walked right in from the sets of Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, which indeed is the case as the actress shot for both movies simultaneously. Yet she brightens up the screen and does a skillful job with whatever screen time she gets. The role doesn’t demand dramatics and Preity’s humble yet effective depiction of Piya Goyal is just what the script demanded.
Overall, Jaan-e-Mann does exactly what it is supposed to do - entertain and give the paying public a worth for their money. It surely can not be categorized as one of the best movies of all time, but it surely manages to be the most innovation one. Top notch performances, soothing melodies, inventive treatment, clean family entertainment and an unashamed sense of individuality, all make Jaan-e-Mann a rewarding film-viewing experience. It is fun while it lasts and is very likely to leave a lasting impression, not entirely for its content but for its execution. So go ahead, give Jaan-e-Mann some love this festive season if you’re looking for some unadulterated popcorn entertainment.