A Flying Jatt: Child-friendly Without Being Patronizing

I saw A Flying Jatt!  With my friend who is a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge Tiger Shroff fan!  Don’t ask me why, I still don’t see it.

This movie is probably the best possible version of what it is trying to be.  It’s fun, it’s light, it’s not too clever and not too dumb, and it’s got a nice simple message.  Well, two nice simple messages, one for motivation and one for action.

Basically, this is what Krrish and Krrish 3 could have been, if they didn’t decide to be super dumb instead.  Not just dumb, lazy.  No extra thought or effort put into it.  The assumption that the families would turn out for a big budget highly publicized superhero movie no matter how illogical and badly lit it was, and that kids are stupid and wouldn’t know the difference.

And, okay, they were kind of right.  Krrish 3 made lots and lots and lots of money, and kids really did enjoy it.  But they enjoyed this movie too!  And this movie was actually worthwhile!

I don’t want to oversell it, this was not a super smart film.  But it did a couple of things really well, in such a way that even a small child would be able to grasp and understand.  First, it made fun of the whole idea of a “Superhero”.  It kind of reminded me of the first Spider-man, the Tobey MacGuire one.  Yes, he was being a hero, but he was also trying to figure out his costume and how to rescue people and all of that.  There was effort put into it, it didn’t happen all perfectly overnight.

(I love this movie so much.  This movie, Singin’ in the Rain, and DDLJ are my top 3)

This is an important thing for kids to see, because they need to know that no one is perfect, that nothing is easy, that they should look behind the curtain as it were and think about the efforts that go into creating the mystique.  It also makes it a better movie!  It’s a lot easier to relate to some guy who is being an idiot and making a bunch of mistakes and learning from them, than to relate to some guy who is just perfect and cool and awesome right out of the gate.

Second, it spent a lot of time establishing that a hero is there to help people, not just to beat up bad guys, and that what makes a hero is trying to help.  Not being super strong or super fast or any of that.  It was an anti-exceptionalism film.  Yes, our “hero” is a good guy, but so is his brother, and so is his mother, and his girlfriend, and even his romantic rival.  They are all just standing up and trying to do the best thing however they can manage it.  The message isn’t “some people are just better than others and we should expect more from them”; the message is “we should expect more of everybody.”

And finally, the actual message, which was anti-pollution.  Now, in America, this would be kind of old-fashioned 90s kind of message.  But my impression is, in India, this is extremely apt.  There is a real need for people to talk about how air quality affects health, and how rapid industrialization affects air quality.  I mean, it’s still not the most controversial or specific message in the world.  But this is a children’s movie, it’s a nice simple children’s level message-plant a tree!  sweep your sidewalk!  use solar panels!

Everything is kept pretty simple and child level.  The romance is a couple of dances and some teasing.  And Jacqueline is simply introduced as his “best friend”.  In a way that feels very similar to how an 8 year old boy and girl might be best friends.  They hang out together at school, he shows off for her sometimes, that’s it.  Jacqueline’s character is also the kind of character a little girl might want to be.  She wears bright fun clothes and smiles a lot and is real chatty and happy.  She’s not just “sexy” or “in distress”.  Actually, I don’t think she is in danger the whole movie!  At least, not more than any other innocent bystander.  She doesn’t have much of a character, but what she has is something that tells little girls than can have big personalities and be themselves and nothing bad will happen to them.

(Look at her in this song!  All glasses and crazy clothes, and the cute guy just likes her more because of all that)

I really like the bad guys too!  Kay Kay Menon is, needless to say, excellent.  And really fun to watch!  Remo D’Souza directed, and Kay Kay’s character and performance reminded me a lot of his role in ABCD.  That is, super fun!  Like, sneery odd gestures strange dialogue rhythms eeeeeeevil.

The other bad guy was played by an Australian wrestler, Nathan Jones.  Who was also in Mad Max: Fury Road!  He was really great.  I mean, it’s not much of a role, he just had to grimace at the camera a lot and really sell the insane bully vibe.  Which he did wonderfully!  But he also kept it kid friendly.  He was bad, but not “cause nightmares” bad.  Just, like a villain from a fairy tale or a cartoon.  So simple that he could not be really feared. It really came through with his one scene at the end, when he confronts a child actor.  He is saying all his really scary dialogue, but somehow it feels like he just wants to give this kid a hug the whole time.  Not like the character does, but like the actor himself is completely charmed and can’t quite hide it.  Which works, because it makes this whole super scary scene not quite as scary.

Image result for nathan jones images(This guy!  Not actually scary.  At least, not “mommy mommy I’m afraid to close my eyes!” scary)

Also helping to make it kid friendly is that the powers come direct from God.  There is no spider bite or death of a planet, or any other big scarey dark thing that happens.  God sends the powers to save our hero from trouble, and then he gains the power to hear all the requests for help made to God, and he goes off to save people in response.  It’s a nice simple safe explanation, that makes you feel like more people are taking care of you and the world is a safer place, instead of the other way around.  I mean, can you imagine explaining Batman’s origin to a little kid without giving them just the worst possible nightmares?

All of that is nice for the kids, but the parents and adults do need something to hang on to as well!  And for them, there is Amrita Singh!  Oh my gosh, she is so awesome!  A little slow in the first few scenes, but once the whole superhero plot kicks into gear, she is just amazing!  Mostly, being a hilarious personification of a Punjabi mother who’s son is a literally superhero, and yet he still isn’t quite good enough for her (and, needless to say, is still terrified of her as well).  And then as time goes on, she seamlessly layers on depth and emotions and feelings, without sacrificing her character as already established.

Tiger, not so good with the subtle layering.  Yes, his body is amazing.  Yes, he can do his own stunts and fight scenes.  Yes, he is quite a good dancer.  But talking still seems to be a bit of a weakness for him.  Also, conveying emotions.  Also, not making ridiculous faces when trying to convey “humor”.  But otherwise, completely fine!

(See what I mean about the dancing?  And also the child target audience?)

As is this film!  Not very subtle, not terribly smart, not overly complex.  But, with a nice message, with some nice scenes (all of them involving Kay Kay Menon or Amrita Singh), and with some actual effort and thought put into how it would all hold together.

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5 thoughts on “A Flying Jatt: Child-friendly Without Being Patronizing

  1. Thanks for the review. I really liked the trailer when I saw it in Rustom, enough fir me to say, “I want to see that!” But my schedule is really tight. So my question to you is, is this a must see on bug screen type of movie (like Bahubali), or can it be deferred to dvd? Thanks. — Moimeme

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  2. Pingback: A Flying Jatt SPOILERS Review: Whole thing described! It’s got a really nice message | dontcallitbollywood

  3. Pingback: News Round-Up: Sonam Kapoor Dating, Happy Bhaag Jayegi Slow But Sure at Box Office, and WILL SMITH!!! | dontcallitbollywood

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