“Jawaani Jaaneman”… Saif Ali Khan plays an older version of a Saif Ali Khan role in an underwhelming dramedy

Posted on February 4, 2020


The film has neither the glib snap of a sitcom nor the depth of a drama nor the giddiness of a ‘Birdcage’-like farce.

Spoilers ahead…

In an industry more attuned to sequels, Nitin Kakkar’s Jawaani Jaaneman would be called Salaam Namaste Part XVI: From Rocker to Rocking Chair. Saif Ali Khan plays a perennial playboy named Jaswinder Singh. People call him Jazz, but he seems more of a rock guy, given the series of tees he wears — with logos of Metallica and Iron Maiden and Freddie Mercury. But at home, in London, he has a disco glitter ball, and when no one’s looking, he lip-syncs and dances to Husn hai suhana. Is this just a cheap laugh at the character’s expense? Or is this who Jazz really is, “cool” on the outside and a Coolie No.1 fan on the inside?

It’s hard to care in this snoozy narrative that revolves around Jazz being visited by Tia (the endearingly open-faced Alaya Furniturewala) and finding out — to his utter horror — that he may not just be a father but may be about to become a grandfather, too. Haha, right? But not really — despite some high-profile (and very promising) casting like that of Tabu as a hippie-earth goddess. The film has neither the glib snap of a sitcom nor the depth of a drama nor the giddiness of a Birdcage-like farce. (For my money, the latter is what they were going for.)

Jawaani Jaaneman has too many nightclub sequences, and too few scenes that build these characters into people we actually give a hoot about. There’s no consistent tone, no rhythm. A supposedly funny doctor’s visit is directed so flatly, you practically hear the hiss as the air leaks out of the scene. And nothing is at stake. Everything seems so easy as to be preordained, whether it’s a tetchy old woman signing away her house (Jazz is in real estate) or Jazz realising that family is important if you fall ill and need people to fuss around you at the hospital. The writing is that basic.

Kubbra Sait grabs a few good moments as Jazz’s very grounded hairdresser-friend. But Saif seems lost. He doesn’t have the conviction he did when he put himself through these very motions in Salaam Namaste. (Or maybe he’s just older and trying to hide his contempt for a pay-cheque part. Who can say?) But most painful of all is the stilted language. A 21-year-old brought up in Amsterdam says things like “Aapke ghar ki keys” — instead of, you know, “Here are your keys”. If you have to have a lot of Hindi in your Hindi film, why not set the whole damn thing in Mumbai? I swear, if I hear a Londoner talking about “havas” one more time…

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Posted in: Cinema: Hindi