It is easy to dismiss Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na as yet another romantic comedy featuring a group of youngsters divided neatly into equal numbers of men and women. To clear the audience's doubts, Abbas Tyrewala cleverly gave us the character, Mala. Mala is understandably annoyed while hanging out with Jiggy, Shaleen, Bombs and Rotlu, as they keep bringing up inside jokes and references she is not privy to. Mala is each of us when we find ourselves amidst a group of old friends. Figuring out that she has a whole evening ahead of her and will need something to kill time, Mala resigns herself to listening to their story. And with that, the gang reels Mala—and the viewer—in to experience a story that, despite showing bleak instances of physical and emotional abuse, ended up being the ultimate feel-good experience for a generation of moviegoers.
Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na has so many great elements that one wonders how they all come together to form a warm broth that is enriched by the too many cooks who have their ladles in—the chemistry between the friends, each of whom is a memorable character; Aditi's 'cool' parents; Jai's happy coincidental meeting with his long-lost cousins, who serve up some of the best one-liners in the film; and the awful Inspector Waghmare, played so convincingly by Paresh Rawal.
Despite all these wonderful elements, there are two that stand out for me. The first is the relationship between Aditi and her little brother, Amit. Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na completely does away with the Bollywood cliches of over-sentimental bhai–behen depictions because Aditi and Amit fight like animals over the most childish things. They could be you and your sibling, or your tempestuous cousins. And yet, at two crucial points in Aditi's life, it is Amit who sees things in a way that no one else does and tells her what she needs to hear.
My other favourite element from the movie also has to do with a relationship between two people—Jai's parents, Savitri and Amar Singh Rathore. Ratna Pathak Shah and Naseeruddin Shah only have a few scenes together, with the latter's being more a cameo than a full-fledged role. And yet, these are the scenes I most look forward to during each of my many rewatches. There is an endearing quality to the bickering between woman and painting, with each of the actors delivering each line perfectly. We forget our ideals of shunning toxic masculinity when Amar Singh Rathore dances at his son's completion of the three conditions of manhood. Naseeruddin Shah is sheer joy in that sequence.
After the climax, when a post-honeymoon Jai and Aditi exit the airport to meet their friends, Mala embodies the audience once again. We too feel a deep kinship with Rats and Meow and want to give them a big hug for reinforcing our belief in love and friendship through their story. So, while we may have entered the world of Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na with acid reflux from the sugariness of regular rom-coms, we leave it with a warm feeling in our bellies, like we've just had a bowlful of hearty, healthy soup.