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Jawaani Jaaneman (2020)


Well, this is lovely! And in a shiny upshot of Lockdown, really really new. A film released back in January has hit Amazon Prime with solid subtitles and delicious modernity. Fresh from scowling his way through the terrific Sacred Games (it’s a TV series – get thee to your Netflix of choice), Saif Ali Khan loses a ton of weight to play one of those middle-aged (well, forties…) pains who bound through nightclubs convincing other men’s daughters to one night stand them. But there’s a dash of fate on the way for this one, a young sweetheart: Jawaani Jaaneman

After an examination of Khan’s Jazz and his cheery sex life, pre inciting sweetheart, old Jack was disapproving with a smile. I’ve been dragged to dances, discos and nightclubs over the decades and always felt the soul sapping presence of those men. Too old, too sharply dressed, too empty of love and family…hunting and prowling and guaranteed to have exhausting opinions on sex, politics and humanity’s gods. Khan’s Jazz sees his parents and brother’s family on Sundays, but other than that, he dances and drinks on life’s sex tab. And the women go home with him because he has the thing – and hair dyed by the only grown-up woman he knows…

And then…screech!

One girl, beautiful and giving off plot line relevance, grabs his attention with spilt drink and ambiguous remarks. Every synopsis old Jack has seen gives away the next part, so…

SPOILERS HEREAFTER!!!!! Click to another page now, or…

…it’s his daughter! Oh yes.

So, before he knows this but after you do, you’re likely to be cringing ’til your toenails hum. Because he flirts. And gets her back to his place. And does that twirly thing and oldone-liners that have bedded a ton of wrinkle-tolerating women…

Oh, the relief when she interrupts and tells him there is a 33.33333333% chance he’s her Dad. indeed – because her Mum said so and she’s been researching…

Tia (the smilingly smart Alaya F) goes straight for the heart. Wants to get to know him. Asks to stay. Gets her way. A lovely few scenes follow as she takes control, as daughters do, and Khan mixes the call of family with the artifice of that kind of man. He needs his pointless, family-free “freedom”. It’s a lovely relationship from the start, played with comic deftness and – post DNA tests – deft confusion: affection meets generational privacy meets the love of a father for his daughter.

In a delicious moment at the DNA clinic, the doctor confirms that Khan is the father. And about to be a grandfather. The look on Khan and Alaya F’s faces: perfectly done. Both surprised. Both horrified. Both processing with a long blank stare. Family. Gorgeously done.

The rest of the film – indeed its entire plot – bounces around that core relationship. It’s a bit cookie-cutter and forced as Tia plays a part in her Dad’s persuasion of a sweet old woman to sell up so he and his colleagues can build tower blocks over their pretty bit of London…and then Jazz and colleagues drop a morality clause in Tia’s expectations. But – meh. That only matters to illuminate the growing bond between Jazz and Tia.

More comedy abounds as Tia’s mum materialises from Amsterdam’s hippie culture, bringing the fey father of Tia’s bump. Khan is caught on a pin, whirling and whinging. It’s all lightly done, and just about gets away with hiding the familiarity with laughs. But what really makes Jawaani Jaaneman a cheery way to pass a locked down afternoon is the charming performances.

Alaya F is always present as a modern daughter who brings the love of a million before her into a dazed man’s world.

Khan pulls off a real trick: likeable as the dickhead in the nightclub, likeable as the shocked new father, and actively sympathetic as the poor wretch dragging his wings from the cocoon his hairdresser (Kubbra Sait regularly popping by to be the grown-up, old fashioned companion Jazz needs) and daughter have torn open.

So, yeah, old Jack, the father of a daughter, spent the last ten minutes of Jawaani Jaaneman weeping for the affection in this new family.

So should you.

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