Kareena Kapoor, Kalimpong and Keigo Higashino are the three factors that make Jaane Jaan a whiplash-sharp,hefty whodunit.
Subtle and supple, the crime thriller based on Higashino’s mysterious and kinetic novel The Devotion Of Suspect X projects the protagonist as being as hapless and heroic as Hitchcock’s heroine.
There are a 2008 Japanese film Suspect X, 2012 Korean film Perfect Number and 2017 Chinese film The Devotion of Suspect X , all based on the same Japanese novel. Jaane Jaan compares favourably with all the movie adaptations of the novel. Director Sujoy Ghosh makes the original enigmatic ballad on sublime love during a spell of crime, evocative and poetic without trying to be either.
There is an easy fluency in the narrative , and credit for it must go to the two leads Jaideep Ahlawat as Kareena’s unconditionally besotted neighbour who brings a zen-like grace to his borderline-stalkers’ role. Vijay Varma, who I suspect was getting typecast as the grey-hearted smooth-talker, is a good dedicated cop who gets smitten enough by the murder suspect to convince himself into believing whatever cock-and-bull stories she feeds him.
The thing is, who is not? Who would not be smitten by Maya, a single mother running a café in Kalimpong, as she is played by the certifiably incandescent Kareena Kapoor Khan. No one else could have pulled off Maya’s mysterious manoeuverings with such magnificent muliebrity. She is at once naïve and scheming, strong and vulnerable, simple and seductive.
When she ends up snuffing her abusive husband out she is …not quite the damsel in distress, though the men around her, especially her troubled introverted mathematician neighbour Naren (Jaideep Ahlawat) who wants to keep Maya and her daughter out of harm’s way no matter what it takes, would like to believe she needs to be looked after.
This is love beyond the prescribed paradigm.Director Sujoy Ghosh never known to let go of a chance to let his female hero find her way out of the tangled web that is woven around her, gives Maya a free flowing access into an alibi to escape from her crime.
Jaane Jaan is a curiously non-judgemental film. It says ,in not so many words, that it is okay to err on the side of crime, if the provocation is extreme. And yet it is not willing to let Maya get away with murder that easily.
The tug of war between ethical justice and legal closure is brought to a close in a highly exaggerated and unconvincing climax. Jaane Jaan is a flawed police procedural. But one look at Kareena emoting to Lata Mangeshkar’s timeless song Aa jaan-e-jaan, and we are as willing to forgive the film’s flaws as the men in Maya’s lives are willing to overlook her blind spots.