OK Jaanu Film Review – The Bollywood Tonic We Need To Forget 2016

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From the toxic far-right wing populist movements that pervaded the West to the ongoing refugee crisis , the general consensus is that 2016 was the “worst year ever”.

Although that claim could just be social media hyperbole, it definitely was one of the worst years in recent memory.

Much to our chagrin, those of us who looked to Bollywood for escapism were sorely disappointed with what the film industry had to offer us with only a handful of decent films coming out that year while the rest was unwatchable drivel.

Thankfully, Bollywood is quickly making amends with OK Jaanu, a schmaltz-free, frothy slice of Bollywood hedonism that is exactly the sort of film we need to dust 2016 off our aching shoulders and start the new year off on a high.

Adi (Aditya Roy Kapur) and Tara (Shraddha Kapoor) are two twentysomething yuppies who fall in love right after a meet-cute in a Bombay church wedding. In a matter of weeks, they decide to to move in together knowing full well that, because non-marital cohabitation is a big no-no in India, they’re inevitably going to face backlash from friends and family. But living together is as far as they’re willing to take their relationship as both are stridently against the institution of marriage and instead want to focus on their careers.

This could be considered an original plot line had OK Jaanu not been too faithful an adaptation of Mani Ratnam’s Tamil film, OK Kanmani, with many scenes lifted wholesale from it.

But even if one’s already seen the original, there is still plenty to revel in this remake, namely the two leads’ performances which form the nucleus of the film, Indian wordsmith Gulzar’s taut screenplay and yes, The Humma Song, which frankly doesn’t deserve all the vitriol its gotten from internet trolls who are way too young to remember the wholly inferior cacophonous original.

“A schmaltz-free, frothy slice of Bollywood hedonism that is exactly the sort of film we need to dust 2016 off our shoulders.”

The warm, fuzzy feeling that Aditya and Shraddha gave us in Aashiqui 2 is back on here. There’s no denying that these two have chemistry. What’s so refreshing about their equation is that it’s complementary, it doesn’t adhere to the “opposites attract” principle, something that many a generic Bollywood rom-com uses as a plotline. When we see them gaze at each other’s eyes, we can’t help but feel that they understand each other perfectly.

One should come to terms with the fact that Aditya Roy Kapur will almost always play a Boy Next Door type in his films. It’s his schtick. And truth be told, there’s nothing wrong with that given that there is no one out there right now who can do it better than him.

Aditya exudes wholesomeness and his 500 watt smile could light up a funeral parlor.

That’s not to say that that’s all he has to offer. For one, his comic timing is impeccable. The man certainly knows how to deliver a joke, as evident by the constant uproarious laughter I hear in the theater hall. Surprisingly, he’s also able to nail down emotional scenes credibly, opting for graceful restraint over Bollywood histrionics.

Shraddha’s performance too is laudable. Like in Aashiqui 2, she once again brings a  porcelain fragility to this role that crescendos when she has an emotional heart-to-heart with Aditya in front of Gandhi-ji’s bedroom at Sabarmati Ashram. It’s a raw, unflinching scene with Shraddha conveying her character’s pain so well that spectactors will instantly feel drawn in to her.

If there are points of contention to be made about the film it would be its ending, which I thought was both it and the original’s nadir. Secondly, the film doesn’t have enough light and shade.

However, given that OK Jaanu presents itself as a fun, lighthearted film and keeps true to its promise, I’m not sure if the latter argument should be made. G-d knows, we need more genuinely fun and genuinely funny (a rarer commodity) Bollywood films right now.

As of this moment though, we’ve got OK Jaanu and I for one am thankful for it.

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Rashad

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