There's been an overdose of young-boys-falling-in-love-with-elderly-women sagas [EK CHHOTISI LOVE STORY, LEELA, DIL CHAHTA HAI]. The 'Summer of 42' angle has been recycled several times on Hindi screen before.
Mukta Arts Ltd.'s JOGGERS' PARK does an about-turn. Here, the situations are reversed -- an aged, retired man falls in love with a bubbly young girl. And the girl responds. It's not SHAUKEEN, nor is it PATI PATNI AUR WOH.
Director Anant Balani throws humour [PATI PATNI AUR WOH] and sex [SHAUKEEN] out of the window and takes a serious look at relationships. That's why JOGGERS' PARK works!
Jenny [Perizaad Zorabian] is a young, vibrant girl, a darling to everyone in Joggers' Park. She's beautiful, bold, modern and an extrovert.
In fact, Jenny is a perfect example of 'traditional, yet modern' by virtue of the fact that though she flits between glamorous professions, working as an Executive in a five-star hotel, and also as a popular model of the Mumbai ad world, her values are still intact.
Jenny sings and dances along with this glittering world, looking like a picture of joy, though her previous romantic life has taught her a lot and made her more mature than her age. Everyone wants Jennyï¿½ And she loves to be single.
At Joggers' Park, she happens to meet a celebrity, Justice Chatterjee [Victor Banerjee], who comes into contact with her and observes the modern youth and its changing patterns in 2003, after 40 years of sitting under the roof of various courtrooms where morals, values and ethics form the base of the judiciary system.
But now what does he see in Joggers' Park? A new world ï¿½ new people, new feelings, a new experience through this bond with this new friend Jenny. Her bold and candid character amazes himï¿½ and attracts himï¿½
JOGGERS' PARK takes a fresh look at relationships. Relationships that may seem odd to a few orthodox Indians, but they do exist in the society. Relationships that are discussed in hush-hush tones, but seldom depicted on the big screen.
The film has several poignant moments, to start with. The best part is that the goings-on are very identifiable. Yet, the first half has its share of shortcomings. Besides a slow pace, the film also suffers due to an ordinary script. In fact, the narrative does not have many captivating moments to endear itself to the cinegoers.
But things do improve towards the second half. A few well-executed sequences, besides an effective climax, are the mainstay of the enterprise. However, there's no denying that the post-interval portions need to be trimmed for a stronger impact. It will only enhance the quality of the film further.
Director Anant Balani has done justice to a subject that was otherwise quite difficult to narrate. He's aimed the film at the gentry of metros and it's sure to satisfy their appetite for such cinema.
Another aspect that goes in its favour is its writing [Subhash Ghai]. The sequence between Perizaad just before a dance performance, when her ex boyfriend drops by to meet her, is a class act.
Ditto for the sequence when Perizaad slaps one of her friends for clicking her pic with Victor Banerjee. Or the gradual transformation of Victor Banerjee ï¿½ from respect to love to possessiveness.
The climax ï¿½ the awakening ï¿½ when Divya Dutta confronts Banerjee, is an apt example of skillful writing. The dialogues are outstanding as well.
Despite an interesting screenplay, the characterisation of a few actors gets battered in the process. What exactly went wrong between Perizaad and her ex boyfriend is not explained. Ditto for Khalid's [who marries Perizaad subsequently!] character, which should've been developed properly.
Also, there was no need to make people react to Victor Banerjee's character with awe. People falling all over themselves to shake hands with him looks ridiculous, more so because it's rubbed on to the viewers that Banerjee has led a secluded life ï¿½ away from the social circuit ï¿½ for forty long years. It makes him look like a top-ranking movie star, instead of a retired judge.
Music [Tabun Sutradhar] is soft on the ears and the songs are well placed in the enterprise. The best song is the Adnan Sami-rendered track, 'Ishq Hota Nahin Sabhi Ke Liye'. Cinematography [Sanjay Nair] is fair.
Victor Banerjee is first-rate. The gamut of emotions he displays at a stroke clearly proves the infinite range he possesses. But it is Perizaad Zorabian who takes a giant leap. Camera-friendly and natural are two adjectives to describe this upcoming actress, who looks apt for her part.
Divya Dutta gets just one powerful sequence to showcase her talent and she comes out with flying colours. She is tremendous in the climax. Khalid Siddiqui and Hiten Tejwani are wasted. Abha Dhulia is so-so.
On the whole, JOGGERS' PARK is an honest attempt at meaningful, sensible cinema that's slowly proving a healthy alternative for the discerning audiences of metros. At the box-office, the film caters to a niche audience and it should find favour with the multiplex-going patrons ï¿½ its target audience!