Promises More, But Hardly Delivers
By MovieTalkies.com, 17 May 2008
Vishesh Films' latest offering, Jannat, directed by debutant Kunal Deshmukh, is high on promises, but delivers little. Jannat's strength lies in its story which is novel and interesting, match fixing and betting in cricket. But the makers of the film offload the usual Indian middleclass dirge about moral values and hard earned money on to the film's main theme and the result is a film which is neither about the good old fashioned values or about betting and match fixing. Jannat, kind of hangs midway, undecided about which way to go. The resolution is somehow not satisfying.
The film's story is about the character of Arjun (Emraan Hashmi), who loves good things in life, and loves to gamble. He starts of as a streetsmart gambler with cards and then moves on to betting on cricket matches to save his life from a local don. Soon Arjun is minting money as he is gifted with a certain sixth sense and can predict the turn of the game. His rise does not go unnoticed by the underworld. The Don (Javed Sheikh), sitting in South Africa decides that he wants him. He has him picked up and brought to Cape Town, and suddenly our punter becomes a fixer at the highest level. Arjun strikes the first deal with a certain Indian skipper who has a taste for expensive Rolex watches. He continues making money for himself and the Don. On the parallel track, we have Arjun's love story. He is in love with Zoya (Sonal Chauhan), a girl who works in a call centre and seems to love being pampered with expensive gifts. She believes him when he says that he deals in the export import of sports goods. But his middleclass father is not deceived and warns Zoya about Arjun's nature. Both lovers move to Cape Town. It is here, that a bored Zoya, tired of waiting for Arjun, finally develops a conscience when a cop from India, played by Samir Kochchar, tells her the truth about Arjun's business. She turns him over to the cops for his own good and starts working in a bar as a pole dancer. But Arjun's boss has him out of jail within six months and wants him to fix the World Cup. But Arjun is torn between his love and his greed. While his love allows him to turn his back on gambling and try and live an honest but hard life, he is unable to sustain it and succumbs again to the temptation of making quick and big money by betting. Soon he is back in the business of fixing matches.
So far so good. But the problem with the film is that it is neither a full fledged love story about a man torn between his love and his greed nor is it about the world of match fixing. It is confused mixture of both. There are plenty of loopholes in the story. Arjun, who is shown throughout the film as a good better, suddenly transforms into a fixer overnight and is able to make his way easily into the players' dressing room and fix deals for his boss. Also the entire business of match fixing is shown very simplistically and quite crudely as well. The reference to the Bob Woolmer episode, too is dealt in a very haphazard manner.
The love angle in the film too is not very well defined. There is little evidence to show that the girl has fallen in love with him. Their courtship consists only of sequences showing Arjun taking Zoya out on dates, feeding her and buying her gifts. There is hardly any romance here. Zoya's character is hardly developed. Her pangs of conscience catch us unprepared because she never displays any before this. Arjun and Zoya do not spend any time together in South Africa she keeps languishing in his absence and he keeps making pots of money. But when she leaves him, he suddenly starts missing her and discovers what she means in his life. It all seems overdone because no proper premise has been laid to show the depth of Arjun and Zoya's love for each other. So even though Kunal Deshmukh's intention of exploring the perils of the world of greed are great, he is let down by his writers.
Jannat has been shot mostly in South Africa and it has been captured well on camera. But the film's music is hardly memorable, unlike most films from the Vishesh Films' banner. Pritam's score is good but only for as long as one is watching the sequence. There is nothing which actually lingers in memory.
As for the actors, Emraan Hashmi, seems to look and act better in this film. He is better as the gambler than the lover. Debutant Sonal Chauhan shows promise. Pakistani actor Javed Sheikh turns in suave performance as the dreaded underworld Don. Also impressive is Samir Kochchar as the sandwich eating cop on Arjun's trail. He has a presence and shows talent as well.
Director Kunal Deshmukh starts out with a great idea, it is topical as well, with the cricket season on in full swing. But it is in the execution of the idea that he falters. The two tracks the one about the world of gambling and fixing and Arjun's love story are not well melded together. That clumsiness shows. What is also evident is the fact that the makers have failed to capitalize on an excellent idea. Otherwise, the film is just about average.