Director: Shaad Ali
Cast: Aditya Roy Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Leela Samson
OK Jaanu isn’t a bad film. It’s just a pointless one. Because an exact – and I mean frame to frame exact – version already exists in Tamil. If you’re interested in the story of Adi and Tara, a young live-in couple in Mumbai, you can see Mani Ratnam’s vastly superior O Kadhal Kanmani. I can guarantee that you will fall in love with Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen who combined an effortless charm with emotional heft. That film seduced me with its gorgeous A. R. Rahman soundtrack and lyrical love story. This one just feels unnecessary.
Happily, that killer soundtrack features here too. But in place of Dulquer and Nithya, we have Aditya Roy Kapur and Shraddha Kapoor. Both are attractive and amiable but they are too lightweight to imbue this relationship with much needed depth or even reasonable ardor.
For that you have to look to the wonderful Naseeruddin Shah and Leela Samson who play the older, married couple. She did the same role in the Tamil version. In contrast to Adi and Tara, these two have been married for 50 years and their enduring love has defied the years and illness. But Adi and Tara believe that ‘shaadi is for fools.’ They just want to live for today and enjoy each other’s company before pursuing their careers abroad, separately. Of course, love gets in the way.
These millennial romances aren’t about plot or drama. They rely heavily on textures, moments and the charisma of the leads to keep us hooked. Director Shaad Ali and DOP Ravi K. Chandran skillfully locate the magic of Mumbai’s buses, trains and crowds. The house where these characters live filled me with real estate envy. But it’s all too prettified and choreographed. From the red walls and Begum Akhtar paintings in the house to the chic backpack that Tara carries – nothing feels used or lived in. There is glossiness instead of authenticity. Which might have mattered less if Ok Jaanu felt emotionally rooted. But here too, there is a gap.
Shaad doesn’t’ add anything to the narrative and the leads aren’t dazzling enough to distract us from the inherent flaws in the script – like the repetition and predictable ending. If you want to see young, pretty people struggle with love versus career, find the subtitled O Kadhal Kanmani on Netflix. Or better still, seek out La La Land.