Synopsis – Nanu Ki Jaanu is a dark comedy, the story of which revolves around a Delhi land mafia agent who tries to deal with the arrival of a ghost in his apartment.
My Take – Somehow, despite the low-key annoying trailer, I found myself wanting to watch this one due to the presence of Abhay Deol, one of the few key Bollywood actors, who despite ample opportunities and an important surname, went on to make a mark for himself by choose more offbeat projects than regular mainstream films, every actor out there prefers to be associated to. The beguiling innocence he brought to his early films like Ahista Ahista and Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye and the finesse of his performance in the thrillers like Manorama Six Feet Under, Dev D and Shanghai, were proof enough that he is someone who could not be easily written off.
Hence, watching Deol picking up a challenging genre like horror comedy seemed like a promising idea. Unfortunately, this remake of the 2014 Tamil film Pisaasu, is an unadulterated atrocity left unguarded without a single redeemable feature. Why Abhay Deol, who once chose his films with care, would consent to work in this hare-brained film is a mystery, but not as big a mystery as to why this type of film gets made. There are films that make you laugh at their silliness and then are some which make you cringe at the half-hearted efforts put in by a team with potential.
Unfortunately, this film qualifies in both these categories. The film is unsure of what it wants to be, as director Faraz Haider lacks the ability to make it everything they want it to be, and the film therefore ends up flailing its arms all over the place. It is scary in a few parts and funny in more, which is why it is so sad that in the overall assessment and especially in its finale, it turns out to make a complete mess of everything.
The story follows Nanu (Abhay Deol), the leader of a gang of goons which also includes his confidant Dabbu (Manu Rishi Chadha), who takes possession of apartments in Noida under the pretext of renting them. On the way to one such assignment, Nanu sees Siddhi (Patralekha), a young woman lying at the edge of the road, bleeding to death following a hit-and-run and takes her to the hospital. However, despite his best efforts, Nanu is unable to save her, leaving her lifeless body with her grieving father (Rajesh Sharma).
Deeply affected by the accident Nanu starts losing interest in work, mainly as he is convinced that his flat is being haunted by Siddhi’s ghost, and all he wants to figure out is why. The idea is not bad at all – since rationalists brush aside the possibility that ghosts exist, it makes sense to make a film that pokes fun at those who believe in spooks and frankly, sizeable parts of the film’s middle portion are quite uproarious. The scene involving the redoubtable Manu Rishi Chadha’s character Dabbu trying to scare off the spook is a scream.
However, Haider’s direction is too ham-fisted to make optimum use of his talented cast though, making this film a bumpy ride, until it gets to its-so-bad-that-it-is-good finale. When viewed from start to finish though, the kindest thing that can be said about it is that it is uneven. The execution of the film is so shabby that there comes a point when you start to wonder if the team realized what they’ve signed up for and lost interest mid-way. There are glaring loopholes in the narrative which are more uneven than the roads in Noida. Director Haider’s introductions hints at a film that is vastly different from what it turns out to be.
At one point in the film, a group of men are sitting around a table and having a serious discussion, when one of them starts sobbing for no obvious reason. The absurd moment is one that fits with the general tone of the film, where things happen without any rationale and no one has a clue about what is going on. The film is like any other slapstick comedy, though the first half does manage to make the audience laugh and entertains to a certain level. It’s the never-ending second half that the director seems to have lost track of. There is something really unjustified and melodramatic stuff in the film when we saw the ghost falling in love with Nanu who happened to be a dreaded man but soon turns nothing with his haunted place.
We often hear that logic in such films has little to apply but if it soars to the next level it can be deadly experience for all. So, what you get to see is sheer nonsense in the film. It is ironically appalling that a film which seems to care so much about so many things that are wrong with society, starts off with making light of molestation and rape.
While I hope that the film was attempting satire, it didn’t come across as that. In that sense, the writing was also lacking in dialogue and the big reveal wasn’t really a big reveal. It was planted through the film with whodunit questions by one too many characters. Also, the quest begins a little too late in the film – basically at the point where the audience is ready for the film to end. That makes the run-time seem longer, the film stretched. Also that part of the film comes across as an addendum, even an afterthought and why, just why, does the film have to sidetrack from its horror-comedy-romance spiel to become a social messaging pursuit?
Right from road safety to denouncing the bystander effect, to having a conscience, not drinking and smoking or lying, and a nod to the famous Bell Bajao campaign that was meant to call out domestic violence. It almost feels like writer Manu Rishi Chadda and director Faraz Haider’s little attempt to cover up for all the other shit they pulled through the film, including an upside down Manu Rishi Chadda, because that’s the only thing ghosts really do to prove they’re around. At 132 minutes, the film is 132 minutes too long and time seems to stand still as it meanders along before finally reaching its predictable ending. This is one of those remakes that should never have seen the light of day.
Given that it features talents like Abhay Deol and Patralekha, you feel bad for the actors for signing a film like this and hope that at least the money offered to them was justified as the film has all the elements to sink their respective careers. Abhay Deol, as usual, was exceptional even though the script and dialogues of the film are weak. To perform well in a film that has an average script, screenplay and dialogues is an art and Abhay has mastered the art in this film. Granted he’s a good actor, but one cannot fathom what really convinced him to choose this half-baked script. Patralekhaa, who shone in Hansal Mehta’s Citylights, has almost nothing to do in this film. It’s a pity that a good actress like her is literally turned to mist in a film whose title refers to her. While she does try to make use of whatever little screen time she gets, it’s mighty unfair to watch her be the only one trying hard while other characters around her disinterestedly mouth better-written dialogues. Manu Rishi Chadda brings to that very long segment all the comical depth that made Hindi film-goers sit up and take notice of him in Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! and Phas Gaye Re Obama. Rajesh Sharma is also good. On the whole, ‘Nanu Ki Jaanu‘ is an uneven half-baked comedy horror which never rises above its mediocrity despite the talents involved.
Directed – Faraz Haider
Rated – PG
Run Time – 133 minutes