Circa 2002, Shaad Ali had made a rather impressive debut with Saathiya. The film was a remake of his mentor Mani Ratnam’s Alaipayuthey. Saathiya was a commercial success. Since then Shaad has gone on to make Bunty Aur Babli, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, and Kill Dill. The last two being absolutely disasters. With Ok Jaanu, Shaad does a homecoming. He takes up Ratnam’s OK Kanmani and tries doing exactly what he did with Saathiya. Given the critical and commercial success that OK Kanmani was, this probably sounded like a great idea.
Except it does not translate into what Shaad may have wished for. For one, he does not have the cast that was needed to pull this off. Not to take away from the capability of Shraddha Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapur, both of who put in their best.
OK Kanmani featured the gifted Nithya Menen and Dulquer Salmaan. The two were as responsible for how OK Kanmani turned out, as was the director. Nithya especially could lend an effortless cuteness and touch of realness to her otherwise over-the-top character.
While Shraddha Kapoor is effervescent, she does not appear as natural. At times, she lets her usual bubbly self take over. Or maybe it was Shaad who wanted it that way, to differentiate his film from the original. The director clearly makes a departure from OK Kanmani as he resorts to a ‘bollywoodish’ treatment, making things larger than life.
Ok Jaanu for that matter lacks the realism than OK Kanmani thrives on. One of the prime examples of this is the Humma Humma song. The song arrives at a point when the lead characters are forced to stay back in Ahmadabad after missing their train to Mumbai. They check into a cheap hotel for the night. What we however see is a ridiculous set with a fancy bed and a swing and a lot more… not quite the shabby hotel you expect in such locations.
More importantly, Ok Jaanu lacks the magic moments that Mani Ratnam had created, albeit both films being made on the same screenplay.
Of course, to be fair, Ok Jaanu would be far more interesting if watched as an independent film and not as remake. It is a very entertaining story, based on a pertinent and new-age concern. It is another take on live-in relationships and the way the urban youth today looks down on marriage and family. The film seeks to ascertain the importance of togetherness, companionship and reestablish the relevance of the institution of marriage. OK Jaanu accomplishes that.
Shaad as a director understands drama and he creates it towards the climax, to bring forth the change in his lead characters. Ok Jaanu will hold your attention, make you laugh and maybe even make your heart melt as you watch the much-in-love characters played by Naseeruddin Shah and Leela Samson. Naseer and Leela are the brightest stars in this otherwise average flick. And of course, AR Rahman makes all the difference.