There is always a sense of trepidation when one hears about an upcoming Bollywood remake of a successful South Indian film. After watching filmmakers slaughter their movies with indifferently made remakes (AR Murugadoss being the chief offender here with the godawful Holiday, with Prabhu Deva, Krishna Vamsi, Gautham Menon, etc. propping up the list from the bottom), one didn’t know what to make of the announcement that Shaad Ali planned to remake Mani Ratnam’s sublime OK Kanmani. While Ali’s remake of the brilliant Alaipayuthey made for a solid directorial debut in Saathiya, his last two directorial efforts, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom and Kill Dil ended up being examples of interesting ideas that somehow fizzled out on the big screen. So, will the audience say Jaanu or stick to Kanmani after watching this?
Adi (Aditya Roy Kapoor) is a game designer, new to Bombay, and aspires to be the next Zuckerberg. When he meets the effervescent Tara (Shraddha Kapoor), an architecture intern who aspires to complete her masters in Paris, sparks fly between the two, leading to a deep and intense attraction stemming from their hatred of commitment and convention. But as their relationship develops, under the indulgent eyes of a retired judge Shrivastava (Naseeruddin Shah) and his Alzheimer’s stricken wife Charu (Leela Samson), questions arise within them about whether their love for each other and the passion in their relationship can defy their need to fly away in different directions, and the societal institution of marriage.
It isn’t an easy task to watch a remake without the mind racking up comparisons to the original, but as a stand-alone film, Ok Jaanu comes across as a lo-cal version of the recent YRF release, Befikre. There are sparks, but absolutely no fire here. The direction by Shaad Ali seems surprisingly listless here, and he just isn’t able to grab the audience and tempt them to fall in love and wander off into territory unknown the way an Imtiaz Ali would have, with a similar subject. Technically, the movie is absolutely polished and at times a little too squeaky clean, making you wonder when Bombay underwent such an intense cleansing. The original managed to hold its own till the climax in spite of a threadbare plotline, mainly because it had the auteur Mani Ratnam back in familiar territory after a long time, but the remake just gives you the impression that the brief was to make a cinematic photocopy of OK Kanmani and nothing more, nothing less.
Roy Kapoor’s performance gives one the impression that the difference between laidback and indifferent is lost on him, and for most of the movie, it seems like he’s just going through the motions. Shraddha Kapoor, however, tries making up for her co-star’s deficiencies by pitching in with a performance so vibrant, it is a real task taking your eyes off her whenever she’s on screen. She has come a long way since Aashiqui 2, and one might say that a star-making role is just around the corner for her. Naseeruddin Shah and Leela Samson, however, manage to elevate the portions they are into a different level altogether, with an absolutely heartwarming turn as the loving couple coping with Alzheimer’s.
To sum it up, then, OK Jaanu is a pretty serviceable rom-com that might end up working for those in the mood for a feel-good weekend watch, but overall ends up failing due to its own lack of ambition.