I have always maintained, 'No story is a bad story'. It is just the way you narrate it. Once simplified, something as seemingly profound as a Fight Club or a Taxi Driver can be made to sound ridiculously silly. On the other hand, there is Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, which try as you may - you can simply not narrate in an interesting way. Yet, when it is put on screen with a bunch of new comers leading the pack, it works. Things which in isolation would seem outdated and downright slapstick, stick together and are pulled off.
That is Abbas Tyrewala's directorial debut for you.
'You want to marry me?', she asks almost in disgust! 'Eew! No!', he exclaims in disbelief that she even thought that way. Just when she shows the slightest hint of relief he blurts out 'Do you want to marry me?' and she now shows the disgust that she earlier restrained. All this while her parents watch them in utter shock & disbelief. And then they start laughing. Sounds cheesy, right? Bland? Cliched, no? That's my point. And in spite of that the movie works. About 15 minutes into the movie I found myself taken to the movie as a child would to cartoons. Why would a child like cartoons? Because it is a place where things which otherwise do not talk, talk and more importantly it is fun. In a very similar way I loved this movie. It opens up in an unassuming way, slowly growing on the viewer. Never, thankfully, never does the movie take itself too seriously. The director knows that the movie is about having fun - and just that. Later in the second half, I was almost praying that, the drama shouldn't go over the top. In some scenes, it does - specially with Genelia and her fiance.
But that's alright. Because there is so much fun packed in the rest of the movie. I went in to the hall to watch this movie only for two reasons; one - Aamir Khan productions. In the sense, I much rather miss a good 'Jab We Met'/ 'Socha Na Tha' once a while than go and blunt my mind watching the hundred others with hunky guys and sweet looking girls. Which brings me to reason number two - neither was the guy hunky, nor the girl too stereotyped. Besides, it had 'Kabhi Kabhi Aditi' and 'Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na' in it. One, an insanely catchy tune while the other one of the finest tributes to Jazz (Let's call the whole thing off). And such good fun.
Abbas's direction is nuanced. In the sense, he has an eye for details. Check out the dance sequences - where Aditi (Genelia) removes her pencil-heeled shoe before she steps on to the dance floor (Pappu can't dance) or where Rotlu (a friend) dances out of sync after Jai (Imran) elbows him in Kabhi Kabhi Aditi. The allusion to Mr. Godot is a tip to a classic play 'Waiting for Mr. Godot' and in fact is Naseeruddin Shah's debut play. I found it neat that the brother has a mouse for his pet and the sister, a cat. And then, there is a cat and mouse game that they play in between them, and right out of a Tom and Jerry episode, they also make up. The one single scene which talks so much about the brother-sister relationship. The way Aditi mouths 'What the F%^k?!' when she sees her brother's room for the first time. When Aditi innocently remarks 'I don't know where and how the last 5 years went by' Ratna Phatak Shah is delightfully funny in retorting with 'On the phone, my child! On the phone.' The poster in Jai's room that screams - 'Deadlines Amuse Me' and that it is the very deadline against which he races in the climax. All these and some more. And it is in these small packages that the movie delivers.
The performances are just about right - well, I did not find Imran brilliant or too natural. But he is likeable. Genelia carries most of the film on her. The support cast either underperforms or overperforms - but that imparts a sense of realism in the movie than actually hamper a scene. Paresh is at ease and Naseeruddin Shah has fun in the little time he has been given. The Khan brothers (Sohail and Arbaaz) have a cameo - quite well woven into the sub-plot. And for once, they do not irritate. Music is simply mind-blowing as you may expect from Rahman - tailored to fit the movie to the tee. Camera and editing are quite unimaginative - but the pace of the movie and freshness that oozes out of the narrative quite covers up for them.
Well, the movie also has one of the 'safest bet' endings of Hindi cinema - Heroine leaving country and hero stops her at the airport - at the last moment, of course. But then the build up to this climax will tell you that it is not a safe-bet move by the director. It is instead a parody, of sorts, in a way a tribute to the Hindi movie climax of yore. While the romance track is the focal point - it is the refreshingly cartoonesque context to Jai and his family which keeps the gear up. Naseeruddin Shah (God, is there a role that could challenge him?) is rib ticklingly funny as the dead father who speaks to his wife Ratna Phatak through his portrait (a la Hum Paanch?). I wouldn't spoil the movie for y'all here - but watch out for the storyline that is built in parallel and how it blends to lead up to the climax.