Blast from the past Friday Review

Jaaneman (1976)

A scene from Janeeman.

A scene from Janeeman.   | Photo Credit: 21dfrjaneman

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A night street of Mumbai, well lit. A couple hugging and exchanging sweet nothings in the back seat of a taxi. Driver Roni Master (Dev Anand) looks back and shifts attention to his steering. The title presents “Jaaneman”, Navketan’s first offering in its silver jubilee anniversary.

In 1950 when Navketan made its debut as a production concern with “Afsar”, there was a promise of quality cinema. The Chetan Anand-Dev Anand combine went on to give memorable films like “Aandhiyan”, “Taxi Driver” and “Funtoosh”. “Taxi Driver” was Navketan’s bumper hit after “Baazi”.

When after two decades Chetan Anand and Dev Anand joined hands, the cinegoers obviously expected good cinema which was belied. Dev Anand persuaded Chetan Anand to create a remake of “Taxi Driver”. The senior Anand obliged his younger brother but his heart was not in the film. While the director wanted Madan Mohan to compose the music for “Jaaneman”, Dev Anand insisted on and got Laxmikant Pyarelal to compose as they had created hit tunes for his “Amir Garib”.

Roni goes to Victoria Terminus to see off his mother (Durga Khote) to their native place when on the way back he has a surprise passenger Santo (Hema Malini) who arrives at the metropolis from her village in search of her twin Manto (also Hema Malini).

Both Roni and Santo desperately look for Gulbahar Singh (Ajit) but without any success. The otherwise average story takes an interesting twist when Roni discovers Gulbahar is a notorious smuggler. Manto who teaches his children is raped by him. Circumstances force Manto to become a leading member of Gulbahar’s gang. Meanwhile, the passage of time sees Roni and Santo falling in love. The former leaves his earlier taxi owner and joins the loud mouthed but golden hearted Ram Bharose (Premnath).

The action-oriented climax is predictable with Manto who settles her score with Gulbahar Singh by killing him but eventually dies in the process.

A moderate success, “Jaaneman” is no match to the trend setting “Taxi Driver”. Chetan Anand writes and directs a mediocre script on which he never concentrates fully. Dev Anand performs with his usual style and élan even though it is not a patch on his performance in “Taxi Driver”. He betrays his age on the screen while Hema Malini performs convincingly in her double role. Unfortunately, again she is unable to match Kalpana Kartik’s histrionics in the earlier version. Premnath enlivens up this rather weak film while Ajit and Durga Khote are adequate.

Cinematographer Fali Mistry takes some excellent bounce lighting shots and a few in natural light in the film. On the music front, Anand Bakshi pens some memorable lyrics tuned well by Laxmikant Pyarelal like “Jaaneman Jaaneman”, “Allahabu Mein Paid Hui” and “Ayegi Kissi Ko Hamari Yaad Ayegi”.

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Printable version | Oct 17, 2018 2:59:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/jaaneman-1976/article7561269.ece

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