The first time he tries to reach for the diamond ring, he is arrested. The second time he tries to give it to his love, he is packed to prison, and the third time he tries to reach for it on the floor besides the gun, he is shot dead. Interesting! With the ring as the focus director Kunal Deshmukh Has entwined the cricket betting and setting scandal, which saw quite a few cricketers as casualties.
There are quite a few references to cricketers, which is bold I must say. Like one cricketer who laughs at laughter shows, a few who after retirement make the commentary box their home. The most brazen reference being the one when a cricketer who loves watches, a captain of the team, is approached to throw away a game. This particular actor who plays the captain also has his collar turned up. Like all other references, there are no prizes for guessing this one as well. Will the movie open a pandoras box? Or will the aggrieved party just let it be? My guess is they will let it be. The timing of the release is interesting as well, what with the IPL fever gripping the nation.
As a cricket aficionado who was once glued to the matches and who lost interest eight years ago when the betting scandal broke out, JANNAT in a way is quite intriguing for me. Although nothing much came out of the Commission that was set up to probe the betting scandal, and pull up errant cricketers; as a spectator, you get some insight into what might have been. But to be honest, no one knows the truth.
JANNAT is not full proof as far as a tight script and logic goes. But this is one film where I'm willing to overlook the flaws and view the film in its entirety. So what if a South African cricketer speaks fluent Hindi with our bookie, or if a cop from India is heading an operation in South Africa to uncover the betting mafia. Also, I'm left wondering, why if he was making so much money based on his 'sixth sense' did he venture so deep into the vortex of 'setting matches'.
Though the movie takes a few dips after the intermission, it is interesting on the whole. The music is good. You are left humming the haunting tune Zara sa dil mein de jaga mujhe....The dialogues too are good. Also, the reference to Naam, Mahesh Bhatt's hit film of the 80s is palpable. 'Here there is only incoming, no outgoing.' Remember the 'One Way Street' dialogue from Naam?
Arjun (Emraan Hashmi) is addicted to gambling. From cards, he gradually moves to betting on cricket, and when his 'sixth sense' makes him win big bucks he is taken to South Africa by the king pin to 'set' matches. He falls in love with Zoya (Newcomer Sonal Chauhan) and her presence in his life brings him all the luck required in gambling. They move base to South Africa. Zoya learns of his ways and sets him up with the cops. After being imprisoned, he decides to give up his bad ways and work hard to keep his love. But the lure of the lucre is too big to resist and soon he finds himself drawn for a 'setting' one last time. That's when things go horribly wrong and the coach gets shot.
Emraan, surprisingly is likeable in the role of a gambler. He shows no signs of elation while winning, nor any stress while losing. It's this quality that makes him the gambler that he is. He is cute in the lighter moments, romantic when he is wooing Zoya, focused when setting matches and confused when he has to choose between his love and gambling. Not much is expected from Zoya but she does enough to hold her own.
A word of mention for Samir Kochhar who plays the cop. Very, very impressive.
TO GO OR NOT: There has not been much by way of good releases in the past few weeks. My guess is JANNAT will do well at the box-office. It has cricket as the central theme and the game has replaced even the saas-bahu sagas on prime time television!