Abbas Tyrewala’s debut directorial venture Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na became an instant blockbuster with its youthful storyline and the chemistry shared by Imran Khan and Genelia D’Souza. Moreover, the experimentally young music by maestro A. R. Rahman turned out to be the craze of the youth, with "Pappu Can’t Dance" turning out to be the pick of the lot. Two years later and he’s back with yet another film Jhootha Hi Sahi, amidst much fanfare. Now this could be a huge problem, as a number of questions arise:
1. Will Abbas Tyrewala deliver, or will he end up being a one-film wonder as a director?
2. Will the chemistry of John Abraham and Pakhi Tyrewala click like the one between Khan and D’Souza in his first?
3. Will this be one of those movies that generate expectations and nothing else?
More such questions crowd the mind of the potential viewer, and these questions could only be answered after one's seen the movie. In all honesty, I went to watch it with similar questions in my mind, because Tyrewala has set a standard with his debut film itself. The result, unfortunately, is unsettling. The ray of hope in the movie though is that fact that this is one of those movies you’ll have to sit through the first half to understand completely. Though the movie’s shot in London, the makers have diligently chosen not to cram each frame with the most beautiful locations. The story is very simple, and the characters are realistic, but the problem with this is they take a lot of time to develop – most of the pre-intermission reels to be precise, which makes the movie extra slow – something you wouldn’t expect out of Tyrewala post Jaane Tu...
Well, the story’s pretty simple, but unique in its own way. Siddharth (John Abraham) is a simple geeky guy who lives a simple life. He owns a bookstore and has his set of weird friends – a Gujju Amit, a Casanova Udit, a levelheaded Omar, his pregnant sister Aaliya, and Aaliya’s boyfriend Nick, who wants to marry her but she mysteriously denies. A few wrong numbers later, Sid ends up being a volunteer for DOST India, an organization helping people and keeping them from suicide. One fine day, Sid picks up the call to a crying lady who will later be known as Mishka (Pakhi) who wants to commit suicide. Slowly a bond forms between them, and through his lies he trys breaking her out of her shell and helping her to live life. He doesn’t regret those lies, imagining he’d never get to meet her, until fate intervenes and she lands in the very bookstore he owns.
The screenplay is – strange. The first half of the reels pre-intermission drag on and on while characters develop themselves. And unless there’s a better reason for such a screenplay, dragging on and on in the name of realism wouldn’t be a good idea, as it could affect the viewers’ interest. The story, at the risk of repeating myself, is sweet and goes with the flow. The movie picks up during the second half and the climax, though highly over-exaggerated, becomes the high point, making this the complete “Bollywood” film. It seems Tyrewala is in love with the “chase-your-love-before-it’s-too-late” escapism angle in climaxes, and it’s evident because he repeated the “epicness-of-Hindi-romance-climaxes”, but changed the set from an airport to a bridge. Interestingly enough, I wonder why he wants to keep the rest of the film relatable and does the over-the-top act in the end. Some people wouldn’t digest it after the restrained nature of the film.
Technically, the film is commendable. Smooth camerawork coupled with tight cinematography gives the film a glossy look despite the film being shot in the some very raw locations in London. The background score by A. R. Rahman is fantastic - no two opinions on that. Rahman’s music though is such that it grows on you only post the movie’s release and once people have seen its relation with the film. “Cry Cry” and “Maiyya Yashoda” are the pick of the lot. The editing could have been tighter, and the overlong fade in and out transitions between scenes spoil the show.
Preformance-wise, John Abraham is the show stealer. He perfects his character nuances very well, and you could relate to his character immediately – being an unapologetically rich, perfect character with a greek-god body type isn’t really a big deal (to enact, not to work for) but doing a restrained act isn’t. He excels here. Pakhi looks cute and acts well. Alishkar Varde as Aaliya and Raghu Ram as Omar do really well as Non Resident Pakistanis. Manasi Scot as Krutika is efficient. R. Madhavan in the small role of Kabir disappoints hugely. Nandana Sen impresses in her cameo. She needs to get more author backed roles. Prashant Chawla as Uday plays his part commendably. Others are good.