Truly Indian teen movie still a far cry in Bollywood

New Delhi, July 6 (IANS) It had all the makings of covering every aspect of growing up in a country that is transitioning faster than any other place on earth, but "Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na" falls just short of becoming a truly Indian teen movie.

The newest offering of actor-director-producer Aamir Khan, that launches his nephew Imran, has everything going for it on the technical, creative and commercial fronts. Released on Friday, it is raking in rave reviews and is all set to run to full houses for many weeks to come.

But at the end of the day it is no more than a well-made take on the age-old Archie-Veronica-Betty story.

Coming from a unit that had the best creative and technical minds of the country at its disposal, "Jaane Tu..." had the potential to be a definitive youth film which captured the joys, struggles and aspirations of a generation that is growing up in tumultuous times.

Gritty portrayal of young life on celluloid is rare in India. The country churns out the most number of films annually than any other, yet it is hard to find even one recent film that can be termed as a youth movie.

For most films, the college campus acts as a mere backdrop for the romance between the hero-heroine to blossom before the story meanders into drama, action, suspense, and other masala elements.

More recently, Indian filmmakers have been following Hollywood footsteps to dish out a spate of teen movies on the lines of films like "American Pie" and "Dude Where's My Car". These are films like "Dil Chahta Hai", "Kyaa Kool Hai Hum", "Style", "Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai?", "Excuse Me!" and others.

Says trade observer Deepa Gahlot: There has been no memorable youth movie that covers every aspect of the growing up. At one time, a few films like 'Jawani Deewani', 'Ehsaas', 'Bulundi' may have scratched the surface, but the definitive Youth film is yet to come.

"Real teens are not preoccupied with sex all the time and don't spend all their time chasing girls or boys, as the case may be. They do plenty of other fun stuff too. No film, for instance, has captured the funky, innovative and enterprising ambience of the college fests," Gahlot said

Satellte television and media exposure is having profound impact on the youth of today, as the recent Aarushi murder case has brought to light. Unlike American youth, Indian youth are more conservative in their expressions.

Indian youth are largely concerned about marks, careers, future and if one is to search for issues that are top of their mind then the Mandal Commission recommendations may come higher up then worries about which bag to buy next.

"Today's urban teens are smart, well informed, focused. Some of them are socially committed and almost all are career oriented. Romance and sex is just one aspect of their lives, not an overwhelming obsession," said Gahlot.

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