By Sweta Kaushal, HT
Mani Ratnam delivered a commercially and critically successful film with O Kandhal Kanmani in 2015.
With Ok Jaanu, which hits the theatres on Friday, Shaad Ali remakes the movie – borrowing Ratnam’s screenplay but treating it to the silky, royal touch of Gulzar’s dialogues.
So, we have been hearing about the tale of young love that Ok Jaanu is all about. However, allow us to forewarn you, it’s something more than that. Let’s just say Shraddha Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapur form the supporting cast, while Naseeruddin Shah and Leela Samson play strong lead roles. Yes, Ok Jaanu is as much about the old couple and their romance – sans the mushy coochy-cooes – as it is about a young couple coming to terms with the idea of marriage and lifelong commitment.
To start with, Ok Jaanu is a progressive love story at several levels – right from the young couple breaking all sorts of gender stereotypes (and not just for the sake of breaking, but naturally flaunting new-age gender neutrality) to the older couple extending another reversal of gender roles and a heart-warming and uplifting climax
The start credits of Ok Jaanu come with a fun video game that our hero, Adi (Aditya), is working on. He plans to compete with Mark Zuckerberg when he reaches America with the game. Adi meets Tara (Shraddha), an architect who plans to take on the world with her talent after pursuing a degree in Paris. The chemistry between the duo sparks instantly, the best part being that they are both on the same page as far as marriage is concerned – they enjoy each other’s company but do not want the commitment that comes with tying the knot.
Adi, who resides with family friend Gopi uncle (Naseer), asks if Tara can stay with him in his room. Negotiations follow, even some moral policing, but the uncle finally agrees – thanks to his wife, Charu (Leela). Charu is an Alzheimer’s patient who keeps forgetting things like having a meal, but she remembers her husband.
The way Gopi takes care of his wife is heartwarming – he cooks, cleans and does all the household chores. There is no sympathy in his demeanour for his ailing wife – all we see is love. Once, when Adi asks Gopi how he manages to keep doing everything for her wife, he replies: “Agar wo din mein ek baar bhi mujhe ‘Paplu’ keh ke bula le, pure zindagi ki energy wapas aa jaati hai. (Even if she calls me by my pet name – Paplu – just once in a day, all the energy from my past life comes rushing back to me)”. The fact that Gopi’s wife remembers their good old days keeps him going even in his old age.
Eventually, occurrences in the elder couple’s lives change Adi and Tara’s notions of marriage and commitment. They eventually decide to get wedded, but without giving up on their careers (thankfully!) – a perfect way of reminding the world that a marital commitment need not necessarily mean clamping down on one’s ambitions. Instead, it could give you the courage and energy to keep going.
Mani Ratnam’s screenplay is the star of the movie, and the actors are natural and energetic enough to convincingly portray it onscreen. While Aditya and Shraddha share a naturally organic chemistry, Nasser and Leela remind us why they are two of the best among veteran actors today.
AR Rahman’s music and Gulzar’s pen add to the charismatic, positive vibe of the movie – while the music keeps it peppy and new-age, Gulzar’s dialogues ensure that melodrama does not overpower the film.
Watch it if you believe in love, and watch it if you don’t. Fact is, Ok Jaanu is probably one of the most heart-warming romances you will ever see in Bollywood. And as for being a love story that portrays the meaning of true life partners, the last good one we saw was over a decade ago – Baaghban (2003), starring Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini.