It is still a Thursday but the weekend releases have started trickling in. With that, I finished watching the new Hindi film Jaane Jaan which is streaming on Netflix. The film is an official adaptation of the 2005 bestsellar The Devotion Of Suspect X which has previously been adapted for celluloid as well. In fact if you look closely, even Drishyam has traces of the source material which catered to a fun watch. The point that I want to make is that the source material in itself is not very novel and to adapt it, is a big enough challenge in itself.
I remember watching Suspect X, the Japanese adaptation of the novel years ago, and I was pleasantly baffled at its content which was a nail-biting game of wits along with a powerful emotional core. And that is what I was longing to watch in the Hindi adaptation titled Jaane Jaan. I was hopeful and skeptical while venturing in the film – hopeful because of the talent that I was going to witness onscreen which in itself was a bit of a casting coup. But more importantly, skeptical because the film is directed by Sujoy Ghosh who hasn’t quite scored after Badla in the thriller space that he seems to be most comfortable in. So then does Jaane Jaan manage to score as an adaptation and turn the fortunes of Sujoy Ghosh, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
An official adaptation of the novel The Devotion Of Suspect X, Jaane Jaan follows the story of a game of wits that transpires following a murder. The story here isn’t novel with the audience being exposed to its source material over the years. But strictly from the adaptation point of view, the writing straight up misses the most important core of the bestsellar, which was a strong emotional core. In trying to be witty as a thriller, which it clearly wasn’t as well, it completely missed the point of what the original written material stood for. The screenplay standing at about a 140 minutes is decent but I couldn’t help but think that it was a dumbed down version of Drishyam with its emotional core missing.
The first thing that I did like about the drama was its setting. The town of Kalimpong in West Bengal seemed to hold a good amount of mystery in its surroundings with majorly foggy lanes and a brush of grey to paint the entire town. My excitement levels slowly started rising with the introduction of the principal characters, one by one. I purposely hadn’t revisited the original source material because I wanted to give this film a chance, and I did see it rising to the occasion. However, my joy was short-lived as the drama did not quite score as a thriller neither did it score with its emotions.
The proceedings are timid and move at the same wavelength throughout the runtime. If the drama had to work as a thriller, there should have been several nail-biting moments in what would have been a game of wits. The original source material made great use of mathematics which was so well integrated at vital junctures in the screenplay. But here, it wasn’t the case. To give you a perspective, if a character uses the mathematical formula of a=b, b=c then a=c then you know how basic the plot point would be, not to mention forced. Even if I have to bring Drishyam in the picture which had a similar conflict, just imagine the high that the viewers got when the cops were caught unaware due to the sequence of events that the protagonist narrates. There were memes back in the day but nothing such would transpire here, I would imagine.
The narrative style is devoid of any twists and turns with the one twist at the end glaring right in your face. Even for those who may not have watched the original adaptation or read the source material, would be able to guess its twist. So the drama was trying to be smarter than it actually was. But I would still have gone softer on the film had its emotional core been on point. Surprisingly so, there wasn’t even an attempt made at creating moments of sorrow at the end, particularly when *spoiler* the character of Naren had a one-sided love for Maya. That was the emotional core(of love, respect, guilt etc) right there which just wasn’t tapped into. Here is one advice that I have for filmmakers trying to adapt literary works – DO NOT ADAPT IT BLINDLY! Overall, the screenplay is tepid and rather unimpressive even as a thriller.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational and decent enough to hold your attention. The music and the use of some of the older songs could have transformed this drama in the neo-noir space. But the attempt is so half-hearted that the songs had no impact whatsoever. Even the BGM wasn’t memorable at all. The cinematography could have been a little better with respect to capturing the vibe of the drama. The editing is a little patchy at certain places but pretty routine otherwise. Director Sujoy Ghosh misses the mark yet again with another below average thriller. I think the issue that he would be facing is probably in reverse engineering a thriller which would look unassuming on paper but the inability to hoodwink the audience into the obvious(a dilemma that Manoj M Shyamalan is still going through). It happened with Kahaani 2 and now here again. I really hope the Sujoy Ghosh of Jhankar Beats and Kahaani comes to the rescue soon!
The performances are quite good here. Saurabh Sachdeva in his third outing in 6 days is impressive as Ajit. Lin Laishram as Prema and Naisha Khanna as Tara manage to shine despite a limited screen time. Karma Takapa as Sundar is sincere and earnest. Vijay Varma as Karan is excellent, Jaideep Ahlawat as Naren is brilliant too, but the drama doesn’t utilize their face-off at all which was such a shame. Kareena Kapoor Khan as Maya is good as well although her character seemed far too one-dimensional. This is where that ‘missing’ emotional core would have added layers to her character. But none of the characters could save this sinking ship.
Jaane Jaan is a tepid adaptation of The Devotion Of Suspect X that completely misses its emotional core. Available on Netflix.