Janhit Mein Jaari Movie Review: Adjust for laughs
Some jokes land but the drama goes astray in this Nushratt Bharuccha, Anud Singh Dhaka starrer
Social issues have become indispensable to small-town family comedies. The audience needs to be roped into the theatres, tickled and enlightened. Evils in our society are a bitter pill to swallow, viewers opening their mouths to laugh helps. But it should hit in the gut or at least give food for thought. Laughs can’t be purposeless. It is advisable to know the subject, rather than using it to give unnecessary gravitas to a film. There is only so much anybody can laugh mindlessly.
Cast: Nushrratt Bharuccha, Vijay Raaz, Anud Singh Dhaka
Directed by: Jai Basantu Singh
Written by: Raaj Shaandilyaa, Yusuf Ali Khan
Janhit Mein Jaari is the story of Manokamna, played by Nushrratt Bharuccha. The Pyaar Ka Punchnama (1 &2) actor plays a feminist woman on a mission to become independent. She is seeking a job to escape the parental pressure of getting married. The job comes, in the form of selling condoms. How Manokamna hides the job description from first her own family and then her in-laws form the film’s comedic crux. The plot recalls that of Vicky Donor, but where the Ayushmann Khurrana film aces, Janhit Mein Jaari falters. Vicky Donor was a nice mix of witticisms and family drama. It wasn’t hell-bent to make one laugh at every corner; sometimes a smile sufficed. Janhit, however, is battered by its punchlines. The drama, if any, piles on and doesn’t make one sit up and notice.
Wordplay is on full display. The film is written by Raaj Shaandilyaa who penned scripts for shows like Comedy Circus and made his directorial debut with Dream Girl (2019). Dialogue, rather than giving information, only serves as a set-up for a bon mot. Each character acts like that guy who puns about everything to hide his awkwardness at a party. The puns too are strained. In a scene, the film shows Vijay Raaz seeking votes as a candidate fighting elections for the post of the village-head. At a rally ground, he asks people to vote for him (‘Humein mat dena’). The village folk seems confused over the word ‘mat’ as it also means ‘don’t’. In a later scene, we are back in the ground after Vijay’s character wins the elections, helped by his daughter-in-law (‘bahu’) Nushrratt. This time, the word to latch on to is bahumat (people’s vote). I can’t explain further.
The second half takes the weight of a social drama on its puny (read ‘punny’) shoulders. Manokamna’s secret is revealed to her in-laws and she is made to leave the job. Her husband Ranjan (in a Ranveer Singh-isque energetic performance by Anud Singh Dhaka) stops supporting her. A young girl is introduced and killed off because of a botched abortion just to shake Manokamna’s conscience. “Do you know how many girls die because of illegal abortions in the country?” she wakes up her husband in the middle of the night and asks. It’s true that Indians shy away from contraceptives but putting the onus of abortion deaths on lack of protection is rather simplistic. No questions are raised on the country’s abortion laws and the statistics are vague. “Humare desh mein kuch logo ko har chiz ka saboot dena hota hain (In our country people seek proof for everything)”, says Manokamna. The message to the skeptical audience is clear. Laugh, don’t ask.