OK Jaanu is a romantic drama directed by Shaad Ali whose previous assignments include Saathiya (2002) and Bunty Aur Babli (2005). However, OK Jaanu happens to be the official remake of Mani Ratnam's Tamil film O Kadhal Kanmani. Shaad builds upon Mani Ratnam's screenplay, A.R. Rahman's music and Gulzar's dialogues to weave a tale of modern romance about a young couple (played by Shraddha Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapur) in a live-in relationship.
Director Shaad Ali takes few liberties—it's clear that his goal is to simply remake O Kadhal Kanmani for a Hindi audience.
But like I said, OK Jaanu is essentially a Mani Ratnam film, with Mani Ratnam's vision. Director Shaad Ali takes few liberties—it's clear that his goal is to simply remake O Kadhal Kanmani for a Hindi audience. And he certainly succeeds in this endeavour. One can literally juxtapose the two films scene by scene. It may look like a cinch to replicate a movie, but it is easier said than done, especially if it is a film by a master filmmaker like Mani Ratnam. By making films like Roja, Bombay, and Dil Se in the 1990s, he single-handedly revolutionised the way Indian films approached romance. Now, O Kadhal Kanmani is not a typical Mani Ratnam romance but it works because it brilliantly captures the difficulties and dilemmas that young couples experience in present times. And Shaad, to his credit, nearly replicates it. Of course, the provision of a much bigger budget wouldn't have hurt.
OK Jaanu is set in Mumbai and revolves around a game designer named Adi and an architect named Tara who fall in love with each other but are not ready for a commitment. They are quite serious about their respective careers. While Adi wants to settle in the US, Tara wants to pursue a professional course in Paris. So they decide to make most of the time they have with them before their career paths take them away from each other. Since both fear commitment they take the option of a live-in relationship. It starts like a fairytale affair but sooner or later they must confront reality. Will they choose love or career? OK Jaanu succeeds in asking pertinent questions about modern-day romance and commitment without, at least for the most part, adopting a serious tone. It also reminds us that life and career are two sides of the same coin.
'OK Jaanu' benefits from the solid performances of Shraddha and Aditya, who succeed in rekindling their old magic [of 'Aashiqui 2'].
Overall, OK Jaanu is a light-hearted tale of romance that offers a refreshing take on modern relationships. Shaad, who started his career as an assistant director to Mani Ratnam, succeeds in seamlessly translating the master filmmaker's cinematic vision. OK Jaanu benefits from the solid performances of Shraddha and Aditya, who succeed in rekindling their old magic. In terms of acting talents they may not be as gifted as Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen of O Kadhal Kanmani but they nonetheless get the job done. While Naseeruddin Shah is always a treat to watch, it is Leela Samson who steals the show here. The chemistry that Samson shares with Shah is in perfect contrast to what we get to see from Shraddha and Aditya—it is this striking contrast that helps propel the movie's plot. In the end, we are at liberty to choose between the old institution of marriage and the new concept of living in. Both have their pros and cons. It is for couples to choose what's best for them. OK Jaanu has its share of flaws but despite its weaknesses it not only entertains but also makes us think.
A version of this review was first published in A Potpourri of Vestiges.