'Jaane Jaan' Movie Review: Kareena Kapoor’s OTT debut packs in mild thrills

Jaideep Ahlawat and Vijay Varma also star in this Sujoy Ghosh's Netflix directorial

By Lekha Menon

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Published: Thu 21 Sep 2023, 4:49 PM

Last updated: Thu 21 Sep 2023, 4:50 PM

In 2013, a blockbuster Malayalam movie about an imperfect murder and the perfect cover-up released that broke box office records and got established as one of the best thrillers ever made in Indian cinema. The many remakes that the Mohanlal-starrer Drishyam spawned are indication of the movie’s impact on our consciousness.

Among the many discussions, Drishyam gave rise to on social media and movie chat groups, was one regarding the film’s ‘inspiration’ – mystery writer Keigo Higashino’s acclaimed Japanese novel The Devotion of Suspect X. Eagle-eyed cinephiles spotted similarities between the premise of the book and the flick – an inadvertent crime, a foolproof alibi and individuals who would do anything to protect the ones they love. Of course, writer-director Jeetu Joseph shrugged off the ‘copy’ accusation but that’s another story.

So why are we discussing Drishyam in the context of Jaane Jaan, starring Kareena Kapoor Khan, Jaideep Ahlawat and Vijay Varma, that releases on Netflix today? Aside from the buzz surrounding the movie because of Kareena Kapoor’s OTT debut and its talented starcast (Ahlawat and Varma are great to watch even if they sang the railway timetable!), Jaane Jaan is the adaptation of The Devotion of Suspect X, duly mentioned in the credits. Thank heavens, Bollywood has come a long way from lifting foreign source materials without even a kind acknowledgment!

What made Drishyam so engrossing was the treatment. From creating well-etched out characters and examining their motivations to wonderfully localising the story, the film took the bare bones of Higashino’s novel and gave it a unique touch that was entirely original. By contrast, Jaane Jaan’s director Sujoy Ghosh sticks faithfully to the book to the extent that the profession of the characters and the motive for the crime are also the same.

Set in misty Kalimpong, we are introduced to Maya Desouza (Kareena Kapoor Khan), a single mother with a teenager daughter and her neighbour, the introverted Naren Vyas (Jaideep Ahlawat), a mathematics teacher who hopes to form an equation of his own with the attractive Maya. A murder takes place, Maya becomes the prime suspect and soon enters a dashing cop, Karan (Vijay Varma). All this is revealed in the trailer, so there are no surprises here.

The thrill for the viewer comes in finding out if the cops will discover what we already know! Can the alleged murderers get away with a convincing alibi? Who is the real killer? Saying anything more will spoil the fun, so we leave it for you to find out.

The question – is the cat-and-mouse game nail-biting enough? Do our hearts skip a beat when the investigator closes in on the suspect? Do we feel like jumping into the middle and protecting the victims? The answer is somewhere in between.

Sujoy Ghosh is a master in atmospherics and suspense as fans of his Kahaani would vouch for. In Jaane Jaan, he tries to create a familiar weave of suspense. While one can’t fault the screenplay or the direction, the proceedings don’t really get you involved. Unlike in Drishyam, where viewers were participants in Georgekutty's, or his Bollywood counterpart Vijay Salgaonkar’s, many questionable actions, here you are witnessing Karan, Maya and Naren from the periphery.

However, that’s not a bad thing as Jaane Jaan is quite engaging even if not exactly riveting. The film has a languorous pace which dips occasionally but it suits the overall brooding mood. The cinematography captures the gloom of Kalimpong winters well but one fails to understand why Ghosh selected this part of the country as a setting. In most of his films, the city plays an integral part (for example, Kolkata in Kahaani), but here, other than the stray reference to momos and lack of sunlight, Kalimpong doesn’t serve any purpose. It could have been set in Mumbai with equal effect!

Needless to say, the performances make the watch more than worth it. Kareena Kapoor Khan is convincing as the slightly seductive but equally stern Maya but the lack of a strong context or depth makes it difficult for a viewer to feel for her. It’s the same with Ahlawat and Varma, both of who are efficient and wonderful to watch but are trapped by predictable character traits. Let’s just say, we have seen them in better and more impactful roles.

This goes for the verdict on the film too – good stuff but could have been more thrilling, hotter and spicier. Just like the special momo chutney that features in one of Varma’s best scenes!

Jaane Jaan

Director: Sujoy Ghosh

Cast: Kareena Kapoor Khan, Jaideep Ahlawat, Vijay Varma

Stars: 3.5/5


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