In 1961 when the evergreen Dev Anand climbed on the top of a taxi to woo the lovely Asha Parekh in JAB PYAR KISI SE HOTA HAI with this melodious and romantic gem sung by Rafi Sahab (those who have called him a ‘ronedhonewala’ singer kindly take a note), nobody would have imagined the flavor of this song composed by ShankerJaikishen after 56 years will result into a theme of feel good coming of age road trip.
Choreographer turned filmmaker Howard Rosemeyer’s JIA AUR JIA starring the ultra-talented KalkiKoechlin and Richa Chadha interestingly opens with the nicely tuned instrumental tribute to the classic 1961 number penned by HasratJaipuri as JiaVenkatram’s (Richa Chadha) search for a travel partner gets complete with JiaGarewal (KalkiKoechlin).
Name ‘same same’ but attitude completely ‘alagalag’ the approach and soch of these two Jia’s towards life is poles apart from each other. While the bakery owner From Maharashtra’s hill station JiaGarewal – KalkiKoechlin is a live wire and the wannabe modern version of the incomparable Rajesh Khanna in and as ANAND, the other Jia – Richa Chadha is the boring corporate type banker. Both are hiding something from each other. What happens when they find each other’s hidden truth during this trip to promote Sweden while YRF and Dharma take a break from their acclaimed endeavor to promote the Alps and tulips of Europe, finds the crux of the story which also shares a moment from an SRK romancer.
Let’s come back to our Jia… bairipiya (read oh dear) this wanna be all girl coming of age road trip that begins thematically with the classic 60’s ‘Jia O Jia’ number makes a desperate attempt to hum Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ in its process and ironically ends up crooning the Britney Spears number ‘I’m not a girl, Not yet a woman’. Britney’s song serves as the perfect metaphor for this road trip vehicle that starts off filled with a bundle of clichés soon after the feeling of nostalgia experienced during the opening credits gets evaporated. Within a couple of reels the director finds the steering wheel of his vehicle gone for a stroll in the picturesque postcards locales of Sweden and least bothered to come back making the vehicle end up in a Never land.
There is hardly anything that connects with the Jia’s of Swedenpur over here. There is no bonding and conviction to the characterization. While Kalki is lucky to have some moments and lines like “Keematalupyaazkehotihaizindagikinahi’( rough translation – potatoes and onions have a price tag not life) wahwah.. I wondered why the trademark Rajesh Khanna’s ‘re’ and tilted nod was absent. She delivers another smart line which goes like ‘Mautkiwajakitnibhibadi ho, zindagi se badinahi ho sakti’ (rough translation – however big the cause of death may be but it certainly can’t be bigger than life) before we say cheers the character goes insane and yes you guessed it right, our dear ‘re’ and the tilted ‘nod’ of kaka urf Rajesh Khanna was again mysteriously found missing even when the inspiration is obvious.
Poor Richa Chada, it feels so sorry to find such gifted talent sulking in sadness in this unconvincingly written character that robs her terrific potential as an actress. She doesn’t even get a smart line. Sob sob.
Debutant Howard Rosemeyer fails to utilize the potential of Richa and Kalki and there is hardly any chemistry between the two. On top of that, the director handles the sensitive ‘illness’ part like an unintentional dark comedy during the second half. But the damage has already been done as the script which demanded an ICU treatment within the first couple of reels starts gasping for breath and oxygen.
In such a situation the helmer introduces a bizarre Vasu Krishna (ArslanGoni) who should have visited a barber before entering the sets. The debutant makes an entry like a zombie from nowhere standing in the streets of Sweden countryside at night. Punch drunk, Vasu has lost his way back home but helps the two Indian balas– our Jia’s to their hotel and earns a packet of ciggy.. yippee.. love story begins on screen .. butafsoos audience kedil ordimagmeinkuchnahihotahai.( got it.. you don’t need a translation for this). Vasu drinks like a fish and smokes like a chimney and says, “Main ameerhoon, main kuchnahikarta.”( Am rich.. I don’t do anything) and later he is shown as a suited booted sculptor who attains his own wedding wearing jeans.
Not a stinker to its credit but definitely an overall dull road-trip, JIA AUR JIA is surprisingly short of both – adventure and the proposed girl girl bond. This road trip rather makes us feel that it’s better to lock ourselves with the ongoing routine, no matter how boring and mundane it has turned to avoid such bizarre adventures in the name of holiday to have your day – the way you like.
Apart from Kalki, Shakil A. Khan’s cinematography is eye candy and this proposed tour de Sweden has good production values.
Ending it by recollecting a scene from the film – Kalki and Arslan are getting married in a church and Richa is shown crooning the iconic classic ‘Jia o Jiakuchbol do’ by Mohammed Rafi in reprised semi soft rock version. The rendition sums up the entire thing – the thematic seed of the energetic and positive romantic number of the 60s, in its ‘instrumental’ version was acceptable but when the debutant gave it a new age ‘voice’, it turned flat and killed two songs in the process – the original and its modern version.
(An extra star for that short lived nostalgic déjà vu of Dev Sahab wooing Asha Parekh that flashed my mind during the opening credits)