Starring Swara Bhaskar, Meher Vij, Shikha Talsania, Pooja Chopra, Girish Pandey
Written & Directed by Kamal Pandey
There aren’t many films around about 35-plus women taking off on an all-girls’ vacation .Producer Vinod Bachchan and director Kamal Pandey venture into this unexplored territory, with mixed results.
That Swara Bhaskar’s Shivangi, Meher Vij’s Mansi, Shikha Talsania’s Neha and Pooja Chopra’s Sakina are wretchedly unhappy and the great grumblers in the casino of life , is as clear as an over-sunlit daylight. One of them has to slog round-the-clock to keep her in-laws happy, that’s Swara slipping into her husband-fearing role with admirable confidence.
Another one , Shikha Talsania, hasn’t had sex with her husband for two years… a third, the token Muslim presence, is sick of her husband threatening to do a triple talaaq on her, although a politically savvy elder in the vicinity points out, it is illegal.
Much of what happens in Jahan Chaar Yaar once the ladies unite (they have nothing to lose except their chayan, equilibrium ) for a getaway to Goa, is illegal. Defying all logic and decency, they invite an Australian stranger (an Indian actor with peroxided hair doing an mawkish impersonation of Saif Ali Khan in Go Goan Gone) into their hotel room for a night of illicit fun.
If you can swallow the idea of four repressed middleclass women lusting after an ‘Australian’ tourist (who could be anything from a drug dealer to a hired killer to Saif’s longlost twin) in the privacy of their hotel, then perhaps everything that follows thereafter would make sense.
While the basic idea of a breather for women chained to domesticity is interesting, much of the writing (by Kamlesh Pandey) comes close to clunky. The dialogues among the four female friends seem labored and often designed to shock conservative elements.
“When was the last time we did it?” asks Shikha Talsania, who was so ebullient in that other girl-bonding film Veere De Wedding .She is surprisingly subdued here as a housewife tolerating her husband’s infidelity.Meher Vij, so memorable in Secret Superstar, comes across as the weakest and most compromised. She is portrayed as serious spouse abuser and yet we are supposed to feel empathy for her.
The best written of the four protagonists part is that of Swara Bhaskar as a abused exploited housewife brimming with guilt for even a moment to herself. In is interesting to see Swara go from the woman who endorsed a self-pleasuring instrument in Veere De Wedding doing a complete about-turn.
Another well-written character in this not-unlikeable saga of four muddled women biting into more than they could chew(the same,alas, is true of the film’s writer-director) is that of the cop Madhukar Rane, played by the ever-dependable Girish Kulkarni who is actually able to give his character a graph from smirking sexism to a flickering gender-empathy.
Jahan Chaar Yaar is not an unbearable film. But it doesn’t seem very sure of where it wants to go with its gender statement. Goa, it is. Once there, the film becomes a muddle mystery , leaving us the audience as exasperated as the four feisty(on paper) women.