Rating: ***(3 stars)
Vijay Sethupathi is exceptionally experimental and anti-traditional in his choice of roles. He can play a jilted lover as easily as a guilt-free transgender. One of his best films in recent times is ’96, a college-union drama which delineates the emotional regret of two people in love who could have been together if circumstances had not conspired against them. In fact, the fabric of the fragile plot hinges on a plot-point wherein a misunderstanding is diligently created by the script to separate the love birds in school.
Though Jaanu is a dignified able and stable remake, I wonder what was the need to do it in a new language because the language that the two could-have-been life partners speak to one another is universal. At one point in the narration Shrawanand (bravely taking over from Vijay Sethupathi matchless performance in the Tamil original) tells Samantha(who fills in for Trisha with more than ample conviction), “Your mother kept you in her womb for ten months(yes, she was a late baby) . What about me? I’ve kept you in my heart all my life.”
This line, I feel, is way too self-congratulatory for the kind of taciturn inexpressive character that Shrawanand plays. The beauty of his relationship with Samantha lies in his inability to express his feelings in words. The closeness between the couple is felt more in the spaces between the sentences than in their verbal exchanges.He would never make such a comprehensive comment on the heart. He would rather let his heart burst with unspoken ardour,
Sensibly, the Telugu remake sticks closely to the Tamil original in mood, flavour and tempo, nourishing the core relationship with plenty of mutually-shared time between the lead pair who talk about their shared and unshared past to grow slowly aware of how much they missed one another when they weren’t together.
The teenaged version of Shrawanand and Samantha’s characters are played by two younger actors who resemble their older version, and they are good at their job too. Jaanu may not have Vijay Sethupathi’s level of commitment to carry it to the peaks of greatness that ’96 reached. But the remake is well-mounted and ably packaged. It won’t appeal to those who have seen the original. But to those who are new to this strange yet stirring saga of love lost and regained, Jaanu will fill the empty places in your heart with an aching nostalgia.