Jaanu Movie Review: Samantha’s Film is Lovely but Not a Patch on ’96


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.”

Jaanu Movie Review

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.