Let's clear a myth before we get into the analyzing mode.
JAAN-E-MANN is about two guys loving the same girl. Her first relationship doesn't work for certain reasons. Opportunity comes knocking again. The second guy rides into her heart. Sounds familiar?
From SANGAM to KABHI KABHIE to CHANDNI to SAAJAN, the concept of two men falling head over heals in love with the same woman has been done to death in Bollywood. Is there anything else left to explore? What novelty does JAAN-E-MANN offer then? Is it old wine packaged in a new bottle?
Sure, JAAN-E-MANN is a love story. But it explores new grounds, in terms of story as well as execution. It's an unconventional film. Yet, innovative at the same time. It doesn't follow the path most love stories charter. It's a fresh concept and the twists and turns in the screenplay only ensure that it doesn't stagnate.
To be brutally honest, it takes time to absorb a new format of storytelling. As moviegoers, we are used to following one particular format, which rarely changes. In JAAN-E-MANN, the story begins where most end. At the very outset, you're told that the first relationship has already fallen apart. Knowing that it's over between the two, the first guy encourages [and actually assists/trains/spoon-feeds] the second guy to get close to the woman both love. The second guy faithfully follows the instructions, till a twist in the tale brings about an awakening. Just when you think that it's going to be a conventional climax, there's a twist again.
Nope, JAAN-E-MANN isn't purani bottle par naya label. Definitely not!
It's said that [most] editors make fantastic directors. After all, the biggest of dreams take final shape on the editing table. Editor Shirish Kunder wears many hats in his first attempt: Director, story-screenplay-dialogues' writer, background music composer, TV and theatrical promo maker and of course, editor. And yes, he makes a terrific impact in his maiden attempt as a storyteller.
The marriage of realism with escapism as also form and content is evident in JAAN-E-MANN. There are moments that offer tremendous entertainment. There are times when Shirish borrows incidents straight from life; you've seen it happening to someone or perhaps, it's happened to you.
All the same, the execution of the film and the shot compositions are masterly. If you understand cinema or if you're an avid moviegoer, you'd notice that JAAN-E-MANN is shades apart from Yash Chopra or Mani Ratnam or Priyadarshan or RGV or Rakesh Roshan's movies. It stands out for its individuality. The technique leaves you wondering, is this Hindi cinema or are you watching a fairytale?
Most importantly, JAAN-E-MANN has its heart in the right place. Like this reviewer pointed out at the outset, it takes time to get used to Shirish's style of narrating a story. The initial reels may give you the feeling that it's all gloss, no soul and perhaps, the director has lost his marbles and experimented at the expense of an uncompromising producer [Sajid Nadiadwala], but JAAN-E-MANN catches you slowly, but firmly and doesn't leave you till the end.
Wait, this doesn't imply that JAAN-E-MANN is a flawless product. There are blemishes that stand out in the narrative. If Shirish deserves distinction marks as a storyteller, you need to deduct his points as an editor. Perhaps, Shirish fell in love with his product and didn't realize that this 19 reeler tends to get lengthy and at times, slow paced.
Also, Shirish's style of storytelling -- very novel and refreshingly different -- caters more to the multiplex crowd/elite/big city junta/Overseas audience rather than the aam public/hoi polloi/masses/frontbenchers. The generous usage of English will also restrict its appeal to urban centres. Yes, there are mass appealing moments, but JAAN-E-MANN is a big gamble. The first section of moviegoers would love the film and if it catches on with the masses [thanks to the strong emotional quotient in the second hour], there's no stopping the film then.
Now to the story:
JAAN-E-MANN begins with Suhan [Salman Khan] receiving a notice to pay the alimony. He has to shell out Rs. 50 lacs to his estranged wife Piya [Preity Zinta], now settled in the U.S. Suhan's 'Chachu' Boney [Anupam Kher], a lawyer, thinks of ways to wriggle out of the situation.
It's at this juncture that Champu aka Agastya [Akshay Kumar] walks in, looking for Piya. He was in love with her during the college days, he tells Suhan and Chachu, but she was in love with someone else [Agastya is unaware that Suhan is the guy]. Piya had ignored Agastya then, a nerd, and even broke his heart by courting another guy. A heartbroken Agastya had left the college for this reason.
Back to the present: Agastya is now at NASA. His outwardly appearance may've undergone a change, but he still doesn't know how to communicate with a girl, forget dating her. Suhan and Chachu hatch the plan to get Agastya and Piya together, so that Suhan is out of the mess.
Agastya flies to New York, so does Suhan. They hire an apartment right opposite Piya's residence and monitor each and every move of her through binoculars and telescope. Suhan helps Agastya to woo Piya. A reluctant Piya eventually gives in. But the story changes when Suhan gets to know of a certain reality and that changes his life completely. He feels responsible towards Piya.
Suhan realizes his folly and wants to make amends. But oblivious to Suhan's presence, Piya is now preparing for a life with Agastya. One wouldn't like to reveal the climax, since that would take the sheen away from the enterprise. We wouldn't be able to reveal the finale either, which is sure to bring a smile on your face.
JAAN-E-MANN balances humor and emotions beautifully. In fact, a film on relationships ought to rest on a solid emotional ground and JAAN-E-MANN has those scenes in abundance, especially in the second hour. Salman's journey from a mere spectator of Akshay-Preity's courtship to being a part of the love story is beautifully depicted. What prompts Salman to have a change of heart and feel more responsible [the reason is withheld by the reviewer] is again a brilliant stroke from the writing, execution and performance point of view.
All the same, the humor is just perfect. It's not the crass or mindless kind, but simple and at the same time, sure to bring a smile on your face or force you to break into laughter.
JAAN-E-MANN has more aces, starting with Farah Khan's choreography. Every song in immaculately choreographed and comes across as a remarkable piece of art. Anu Malik's music is soothing and soft, in sync with the mood of the film. 'Jaane Ke Jaane Na' is undoubtedly the best track of the enterprise. 'Ajnabee Shaher' and 'Humko Maloom Hai' are two compositions that also stand out for sheer melody. Sudeep Chatterjee's cinematography is remarkable. Right from Sabu Cyril's delightfully colorful sets to the skyline of New York, the D.O.P. captures every moment with dexterity and flourish on celluloid. Surily Goel's costumes are classy and well-synchronized with the upmarket feel.
Now to the performances! The one question that you want to ask Salman is, why had you hidden the sensitive performer in you all these years? Agreed, the actor has delivered fine performances in the past, right from Sooraj Barjatya's films to TERE NAAM to NO ENTRY [aimed at the masses]. But this is an altogether different Salman you see in JAAN-E-MANN. In fact, it wouldn't be erroneous to state that if asked to choose one performance from the three pivotal ones in JAAN-E-MANN, it has to be Salman without doubt. He wins hands down completely. The role is a reflection of what Salman can handle in real life: Loads of attitude, the mischievous dude with a naughty streak and most importantly, a sensitive and soft-hearted man who can weep, if affected. Simply remarkable!
Akshay is first-rate. The actor plays a simpleton, a far cry from the roles he's now famous for [DEEWANE HUYE PAAGAL, GARAM MASALA, PHIR HERA PHERI] and proves his versatility yet again. There's a marked growth in Akshay's performances and the one in JAAN-E-MANN only endorses the statement.
Preity is wonderful. Not only does she look like a woman who is the cynosure of two men, but also emotes her part with amazing grace. There's a surprise in store in the end and Preity's fans are sure to love her in that look as well.
Anupam Kher is fantastic as Chachu, but has an ill-defined role as the look-alike in New York. Jawed Sheikh and Soni Razdan [Preity's parents] are appropriate in brief roles. Nawaab [Preity's brother] and Aman Verma are decent.
On the whole, JAAN-E-MANN balances humor and emotions beautifully. In fact, it's a BIG film in all respects -- right from its cast to the extravagant sets to the lavish making, besides, of course, unadulterated entertainment it has to offer. At the box-office, the Diwali and Idd holidays will prove bountiful for the film and add to the big returns. Business-wise, JAAN-E-MANN should fare best at multiplexes and also at major centres, besides Overseas. But its business at comparatively smaller centres, where masala films dominate, is bound to be affected by DON's presence. However, if the strong word of mouth catches on, the business at smaller centres will add to its booty.