It’s good to see actors being their age on screen, rather, as in Jawaani Jaaneman , playing characters who don’t want to be their true age. Which is what Jazz is all about, played with characteristic aplomb, swag and a casual, throwaway sense of humour by Saif Ali Khan. Replace love with lust and Jazz is the philanderer that the once-romantic Sameer Mulchandani of Dil Chahta Hai might have become in his middle age. Drinking, clubbing, womanising and getting his hair coloured is all he does when not making money in the real estate business. Then one fine day, a hitherto-unknown daughter Tia (doe-eyed charmer Alaya Furniturewala plain-sailing fluently for a newcomer) comes calling and all hell breaks loose.
- Director: Nitin Kakkar
- Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Alaya Furniturewala, Kubbra Sait, Tabu, Kumud Mishra, Farida Jalal
- Storyline: A single, middle-aged philanderer finds life turning upside down when his hitherto unknown young daughter comes calling
- Run time: 119 minutes
Jawaani Jaaneman is a fun ride up to a point with actors working well in tandem and spewing some smart and sharp lines. The best of these are reserved for Tabu, in the brief role of Ananya, the hippie past of Jazz. This “hashish (hash), meditation, inner peace” lover and “punarjanam (rebirth) calendar” believer is a hoot and Tabu brings the house down with her on point poker-faced turn.
For a brief while, it also appears that the film is walking rather bravely on the tightrope of impiety. It’s also rather nice to see a hero with a seemingly minor, but such a central signifier of advancing age — sporting glasses to read or reading distinctly uncomfortably without them. However, on the flip side, you have Jazz’s friendly neighbourhood hairdresser Rhea (Kubbra Sait) telling him that he is her age. But then how old is she? Did I miss that vital bit of information or was it deliberately kept obscure? All that I heard was that both for Jazz and her, the past that they have left behind stretches longer than the future they have ahead of them. Pretty depressing!
The film goes on to reinforce the most hackneyed of cliches about singledom. It wears the garb of a modern, Hollywoodian, set-in-London comedy but lives up to the sentimental “it’s all about loving your family” adage. So the singles have no moral compass and they are selfish and irresponsible in their chase for freedom. But, not all is lost. Some kind of a primordial parental instinct and the overwhelming urge to belong to a family would ultimately help tame them and redeem them of their trespasses.
The most cringing is throwing the “who will look after you when you are old and ill?” question at Jazz and, in turn, the audience. I took that personally and wanted to tell the makers that children are no guarantee for being looked after in old age and that in the changing social fabric and relationship dynamics, you could be left to fend for yourself even within institutions like marriage and family. In times of medical emergencies, people in general — singles included — need health insurance policies to fall back on than kids of their own. So states practical wisdom, explicitly and accurately.