Banners: Connecting Bollywood AB Sweden, Trilogic Digital Media, AR Films
Producers: Mirza Aksari, Mudassar Aziz
Director: Howard Rosemeyer
Cast: Kalki Koechlin, Richa Chadha,
Writer: Mudassar Aziz
Music: Nisschal Zaveri, Sachin Gupta
From the trailer itself, it is abundantly clear that the moral of the story of Jia Aur Jia is about living your life freely and seizing the moment. But when faced with mediocre acting and an extremely poor script, you cannot help but lose just a little bit of faith in life.
Hopes soared after the entertaining releases of the previous Diwali weekend. Good content was being appreciated and people were hungry for more. Amid this mood comes a downer in Jia Aur Jia, despite its stellar cast of powerhouse women – Richa Chadha and Kalki Koechlin. The two actresses, known to deliver strong performances, tried hard but could not save the shabby story.
Choreographer-turned-director Howard Rosemeyer chose an iconic film like Anand to adapt the storyline from but he made the movie so amateurish that in 2017, with exposure to technology and filmmaking all over the world, it has far more loopholes than the original film did in 1971!
The story is about two girls, Jia Venkatraman (Richa Chadha) and Jia Garewal (Kalki Koechlin), who book a shared trip to Sweden as neither could afford a solo trip. There is the expected contrast between their personalities. While Jia Garewal is a free soul, which obviously means she is carefree and skimpily dressed, her namesake prim and proper and calls her travel partner a ‘slut’ for eying guys. The two are driving around Sweden in a mini-trailer and while wesee that Jia Venkatraman, called ‘Venkat’ by the other Jia, is trying to commit suicide wherever they go while trying to battle her inner demons, Miss Garewal is completely oblivious to this fact.
In between this love-hate friendship they develop for each other, both Jias find a guy called Vasu (Arslan Goni) literally standing on the street in the middle of the night. The three party together, Jia Garewal and Vasu flirt with each other and then the latter disappears. When the suicidal Jia tries to get run over by a car, the other one saves her and is hospitalised for her good deed.
There is the not-so-unpredictable revelation that the lively and bubbly Jia Garewal is dying of cancer, which makes the suicidal Jia want to help her new bestie, even as she is dealing with her sordid past. They end up finding Vasu again, who decides to marry Jia Garewal after spending just one day together. Then tragedy hits the trio. How they handle it by making sacrifices for each other and how they get the ‘seize the moment’ message across to the audience forms the crux of the film.
The theme of two opposites teaching each other the meaning of life has been done to death in the film industry. So, Jia Aur Jia brings the same dish to the table without any interesting additions.
One of the biggest flaws in the execution of the weak script is haphazard editing. The film seems like a rough cut at times because one scene jumps to another without the previous one ending. Sometimes, even the background music abruptly stops.
Another setback is the dialogue. There is a smattering of 80s ghisa-pita lines in slang Hindi with a mix of English words. Then there are some lines that are supposed to be emotional but are just plain ridiculous thanks to lack of context. For instance, there’s a scene where Arslan Goni’s character says ‘Mujhe pata hai woh kuch hafton mein marne wali hai. Aisi biwi kahan milegi mujhe?’
It seems as if Rosemeyer was focused on capturing the beauty of Sweden rather than actually working on the technicalities of the story. With that and the unimpressive songs Na jaa, Na shukre and Nach basanti popping up for no reason, the movie has no saving grace at all.
Performance-wise, Kalki Koechlin is the only decent thing that makes you smile every now and then, with her upbeat acting. Richa Chadha is average and her staid dialogue delivery further drags her performance down. Newbie Arslan Goni could have been good but screenplay and dialogue weren’t on his side. The special appearances, by Sudhanshu Pandey, Zarina Wahab and Rosemeyer, are okay but fleeting.