Jaanu Movie Review: An intimate love story that largely works
Powered by the subtle music, neat cinematography, and nimble editing, Jaanu is out a decent love story that is told from the perspective of its lead pair
There is something about Tamil directors, some of whom can penetrate the human mind as few can. In Jaanu, which is an unabashed remake of the Tamil original 96, that incisive moment comes when Janaki Devi aka Jaanu (Samantha Akkineni) narrates a made-up event from her past to K Ramachandra aka Ram's (Sharwanand) trainee photographers. In this story, a young Ram, in his late teens, tells a girl named Vasanthi to go convey to Jaanu that he has come to meet her. "K Ramachandra has come to meet you," is what she would have told Jaanu, had Ramachandra not been shy, but instead she just says "someone" has come to meet her. And this is why Jaanu and Ram's lives turn out the way they do. As fate would have it, the somewhat nervous Ramachandra ends up bumping into the somewhat nervous Vasanthi in front of the college gate.
Ram, an efficient travel photographer, is a nature-lover. The motif of nature permeates the film. But, there is more to Ram. He is also a God-lover, and this is subtly played up. The film espouses the philosophy of fatalism. The school watchman (Raghu Babu) is nicknamed as Kaapala Devudu. One of the few lines he speaks is this: "Let what is predetermined happen." (Since he says this on the phone to an unimportant character, it doesn't quite lodge itself into our mind). The director may well be saying that Ram had to meet the wrong person (read: Vasanthi) and only her. In an unlikely scene, where Samantha's character asks Sharwa whether he is still a virgin, he tells her he had promised Hanuman that he will always be a virgin. Is it comical? Perhaps not. In two other scenes, references to Lord Venkateswara and Ganapayya prayer are made. After the beautifully-shot Life Of Ram song, the protagonist and his trainee photographers are seen in a temple. The force of nature and the eternal presence of God make this a semi-religious love story.
Cast: Sharwanand, Samantha Akkineni
Director: C Prem Kumar
Jaanu is about two estranged souls figuring out what might have gone wrong fifteen years ago in their lives. The nostalgia of their love story is absorbing. The film goes back and forth and the parallel journey is narrated with ease, helped in no small measure by the smooth intercuts. Like 96 this is a nostalgic ride interspersed some with highly emotional moments.
The early scenes, to be sure, come with a tinge of Ravi Teja's Naa Autograph (which, too, was incidentally, a remake of the Tamil film, Autograph). But unlike Teja, Sharwanand's expressions here are less dramatic. His social awkwardness in the presence of Jaanu makes him endearing. At the same time, one wishes he wasn't in a permanent state of coyness and even embarrassment in her presence. The scene where Jaanu, a married woman, places her palm on his chest, an act that has a romantic context to it because of their past, is unsettling. The reunion moment where Jaanu offers Ram the same plate from which she just ate is uncharacteristically unrealistic. While Ram continues to be the somewhat reticent guy he is, Jaanu is consistently livelier.
Mirchi Kiran has penned the rather inconsistent dialogues. Even if the lines spoken by the friends (Vennela Kishore, Tagubothu Ramesh, and others) are mediocre, the monologues of the lead pair could have been more striking. That said, this is the kind of film where silences have to convey a lot, like in that Pawan Kalyan-masterpiece Toli Prema. But somehow, the silences here don't come with mystique. Also, the light comments/repartees of the friends are unsettling. Furthermore, the moral dilemma, which the viewer might have otherwise felt, is allowed to fade away by the to-and-fro style of the narration.
The emotions are potent, but they are not too heavy and do not get melodramatic. The throwbacks to Before Sunset and Blue Jay are obvious. It helps that the younger selves of Jaanu and Ram are played by measured performers (Sai Kiran Kumar and Gouri Kishan). Varsha Bollamma (as Sharwa's trainee), mooning over her trainer, is there to indicate that Ram is an eligible bachelor, not a loser. The second half could have more believable. The yearning desire of the characters comes off as somewhat overdone.
Sharwanand is commendable as a loner with a heavy heart. He was seen in a thick beard in his previous outing, Ranarangam, too. However, in that film, the beard acted more like a cover for his skin-deep acting. Here, he emotes seamlessly with his eyes and through body language. Samantha proves again that she is an actor who can deliver monologues with ease. Chinmayi's voice is indistinct in this film, but her renditions of Oohale and Pranam are soulful.
Music director Govind Vasantha's BGM is splendid as he uses the piano and other instruments to convey the moods of the characters. Mahendran Jeyaraju's cinematography adds texture to the proceedings, while KL Praveen's editing makes the film seamless.
Powered by the subtle music, neat cinematography, and nimble editing, Jaanu is out a decent love story that is told from the perspective of its lead pair.