Ok Jaanu Review: A Contrasting Romantic Tale
When you are in a city that is perhaps way bigger, more cosmopolitan and vibrant than the one that you originally belong to, you do feel encouraged to let yourself loose a bit right? And imagine if you were to meet that beautiful stranger, who perhaps like you is also new to this city and is finding her own way even as she tries to settle down. You don’t know yet if it is love or not, but you do want to try and find out. You are delighted when she/he responds and then your life is like a breeze is it not? The life of two such youngsters leading a carefree life in Mumbai was beautifully conveyed by Mani Ratnam in O Kadhal Kanmani (2015), a film that looked at live-in relationships with the angle of just being an observer and not as someone who would want to pass judgement. For the Tamil audience the film was more than a breath of fresh air and hence the film connected very well with people, especially the youth. And now we have Shaad Ali’s Ok Jaanu, the Hindi remake of O Kadhal Kanmani, that’s in theatres this weekend.
For the Hindi audience this is not really the first film depicting a live-in relationship, after all we have already seen films like Salaam Namaste (2005) and Shuddh Desi Romance (2013). But then Ok Jaanu is quite different from these films, even as it addresses the same topic of live-in relationships, albeit in a different context, geography and situation. Shaad Ali had started off his career as a filmmaker with a bang with Saathiya (2002), incidentally a remake of Mani Ratnam’s Alaipayuthey (2000) and has gone on to make films like Bunty Aur Babli (2005), Jhoom Barabar Jhoom (2007) and Kill Dil (2014). Despite some misgivings about the lead pair (considering that Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menon had created a huge impact with O Kadhal Kanmani) and the songs (3 songs being different in Hindi when compared to the Tamil original), I did feel that perhaps this was a good way for Shaad Ali to convey to the audience that Saathiya was no fluke and that he can certainly do justice to a Mani Ratnam film’s remake all over again.
Ok Jaanu is the story of Aditya Gunjal aka Adi(Aditya Roy Kapur) and Tara Agnihotri (Shraddha Kapoor), both of whom land up in Mumbai from their respective home towns with a specific goal in mind. Adi is a gaming enthusiast who joins a gaming company in Mumbai and is eagerly hoping to make it big and move to the U.S. Tara on the other hand is an architect who joins a design firm in Mumbai and is aspiring to go to Paris for further studies. They meet under slightly unusual circumstances and hit it off instantaneously, both of them are not into commitments and do not want to be “trapped” in marriage, hence deciding to go in for a live-in relationship. In contrast with the young pair is the mature couple, a retired judge Gopi (Naseeruddin Shah) and a famous classical singer Charu (Leela Samson) now afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, at whose lovely home Adi and Tara end up living together. The senior couple have been married and committed to each other for ages, continuing to live out their romance even today. What happens to the relationship between Aditya and Tara is what Ok Jaanu is all about.
As you can make out the plot per se is extremely simple, it is a sweet little tale of 2 relationships, one between a young ambitious couple on the go and the other a mature, worldly wise couple where love also means sharing and caring. If you’ve already watched O Kadhal Kanmani then Ok Jaanu will be a strong reminder of the former, as you go about recollecting nearly every single moment from the film. I say this because Shaad Ali has gone on to faithfully redo his master’s (he used to be an A.D to Mani Ratnam) work all over again. The changes if any are kept very limited and even the dialogues are largely similar, except of course for the change in language. Ravi K.Chandran’s cinematography brings alive the lovely images from Mumbai (predominantly South Mumbai as seen in O Kadhal Kanmani as well) and Ahmedabad giving the film a fresh, colourful look. A.R.Rahman’s music for the film has already been debated a lot on social media especially thanks to the 3 songs that have been changed in the Hindi version. On screen the songs look fine, but the spark of O Kadhal Kanmani is missing, which perhaps is also to do with the lead pair in question.
Naseeruddin Shah and Leela Samson are both wonderful, playing the mature couple with grace and sincerity. They do a good job of complimenting each other especially seen during a few tender moments that they share. In sharp contrast however are Aditya Roy Kapur and Shraddha Kapoor who definitely do not bring in the kind of warmth and charm that Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menon brought in with O Kadhal Kanmani. Ok Jaanu is not a novel film in terms of the plot; hence it is the lead pair which is required to bring the desired impact on screen and that is what is we sorely miss by and large. Eventually the film turns out to be like an awesome looking outfit, but one in which you don’t look too comfortable once you’ve worn it.
Shaad Ali comes up with a faithful remake of O Kadhal Kanmani in the form of Ok Jaanu, perhaps a tad too faithful as it’s neat cut, copy and paste job. However the film doesn’t manage to be as charming as the original, making you feel a little disappointed especially if you’ve seen O Kadhal Kanmani.