Jiwaani Jaaneman Review (No SPOILERS): Saif Completes His Impregnator Trilogy

If you loved Kya Kehna and Salaam-Namaste, now you can watch Saif do it all over again but older! Nah, forget that, this movie is a lot more fun than those other two. Or at least, fun in a different way. Isn’t it interesting though that Saif keeps getting the same role?

If you’ve seen the trailer, you basically know what this movie will be like. And that’s a good thing! I should say, that’s a good thing if you liked the trailer. The trailer reveals basically the entire plot, but the film is so peppy and happy and entertaining and fun that it doesn’t matter that you already know the whole plot. I would happily watch it again, knowing everything that happens, just because it is such a fun ride. Here is the greatest compliment I can give it: Tabu is not the most entertaining part of the film.

Image result for jawaani jaaneman poster

Now, let’s talk Saif! Who IS the most entertaining part of the film. We had a discussion in the comments a while back about why the Bechdel test isn’t really a fair judgement for Indian film (or at least, I don’t think it is). It’s not a matter of female characters not being allowed to have conversations, it’s that characters in general don’t have conversations. Indian film is highly protagonist focused, you often have films where there is no one moment of screentime WITHOUT the lead being present, meaning a Bechdel pass would only happen if the lead is a woman, which is a different question. Anyhoo, this film is one of those that is totally lead character focused, and it only works because of how well that lead character is written and how well Saif plays him.

Saif’s character has to grow enough to make the film interesting, without being irredeemable at the start or boringly perfect at the end. To make all this work, the actor playing the role has to be humble enough to play the loser at the start, and charming enough to get us to stick with him through to the end. Ta-da! SAIF!

Which brings me back to the trilogy idea. This is the third time I’ve seen Saif play a deadbeat Dad. Which is kind of hilarious since in real life, Saif was the star who most rushed TOWARDS fatherhood! There are plenty of other actors who married and had kids equally young, but Saif is the one who fought the odds the most to make it happen, and presumably wanted it the most. I briefly considered that directors keep casting him this way thinking that everyone would be more forgiving because they know how unlike him it is in real life, but that doesn’t quite make sense based on his fame level. I think a better theory might be that Saif brings something extra to this performances because it is a “road not traveled” for him.

Maybe that is why his performances and characters are so over the top? In Kya Kehna, the film punishes him, he is supposed to be moderately sympathetic but not really that much. But in Salaam-Nameste (where I find him far less excusable), he is rewarded for his behavior! He gets everything in the end after all! And Saif plays it with this hedonistic horrible joy, he really feels no guilt for abandoning the mother of his child, until the very very last minute. However, this movie combines that “absolutely totally not him” version with another version that is him.

Saif, in reality, married at 21 to a woman everyone disapproved of because he loved her, and had a daughter with her right away. We have photos showing that he was a loving fun Dad through out her babyhood, and then they got divorced. He never disappeared from her life (again, based on photo evidence) but he wasn’t living with her, he wasn’t there day by day any more. And now that she is an adult, they are both trying very hard, with a lot of mistakes along the way, to build an adult connection.

Image result for saif sara young

Dragging it back to this movie, Saif’s performance is this perfect combination of over the top when he is doing the bits that are NOT him, and grounded and emotional when he is doing the bits that are him. It’s just lovely.

I focused on Saif’s performance, because there’s not a whole lot else to talk about with this film. Tabu is a kick, but really more of a one note comic cameo than anything else. Alaya Furniturewalla-Kabir-Bedi’s-Granddaughter does what she needs to do for her role, which isn’t a heck of a lot. Everyone else is generally good in the small bits they have. But Saif’s performance is the only one that really expands beyond what is in the script for him to do.

This is a movie to watch if you want to escape to a nice world where people are nice, where everything works out in the end, where London looks beautiful and never has seasons (we cover at least 6 months, and it is always summer), and where everyone ends up doing the thing you wished they would do from the start.

I want that world, don’t you?

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