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A movie or a family-planning commercial?

Deepa Gumaste | June 20, 2003 15:04 IST

Sujoy Ghosh, the director of Jhankaar Beats, probably thought he was being bold and clever by making condoms a major subplot in his film.

A still from Jhankar BeatsHe spends precious minutes of screen time on corny condom-driven gags with the two heroes Deep (Sanjay Suri) and Rishi (Rahul Bose) agonising over a one-liner for a condom ad. Wonder if the censors were sleeping through it. There are also a few other insinuations in the film of the unmentionable variety, which we will refrain from discussing.

Anyway, they crack their skulls over this over the length of the film. Luckily for them, their client is a vulgar nose-digger (Dinyar Contractor), so what they come up with doesn't matter anyway.

But wasn't Jhankaar Beats supposed to be another paean to R D Burman and not a family-planning commercial? In fact, we recall there was a war between this filmmaker and Anant Mahadevan's Dil Vil Pyar Vyar about who stole whose idea, etc.

Dil Vil Pyar Vyar might not have been a great film. But it certainly had a plot with a beginning, middle and end woven around R D's songs. Jhankaar Beats has a story without conviction or depth from the beginning to end. Deep and Rishi's obsession with music too seems superficial. Thye play two advertising professionals desperate to win some competition called Jhankaar Beats, which they have already lost two years in a row.

Why is Jhankaar Beats prestigious? A question not answered anywhere in the film. What they hope to achieve by winning isn't clear either.

Moreover, Deep and Rishi's habit of referring to R D Burman as the Boss makes you squirm -- he was a music composer, not a mafia don. Equally irritating is their rendition of his biography to Neel (Shayan Munshi), a lovestruck youth who is their boss's (Vijendra Ghatge) son and a new entrant to their band.

The characters of these three heroes and their individual problems are absurdly superficial. Deep is distressed because his pregnant wife Shanti (Juhi Chawla) has invited her nagging mother (Shashikala) to stay over. Rishi is in the throes of separation from his lawyer wife Nikki (Rinke Khanna). Neel is madly in love with Preeti (Riya Sen) without knowing the first thing about her. He doesn't have the guts to talk to her and hence his attempts at wooing her hog unnecessary footage.

Apart from these half-baked stories, there are some irritants with very little connection to the main plot -- the pigeon which dirties Rishi's ragged car every morning; the old Parsi lady who spills tea on herself thanks to Rishi's noisy four-wheeler; a sex-crazed couple in Deep's building; a sex bomb (Archana Puran Singh) who works for a rival ad agency and a disoriented lawyer who goofs up Rishi's divorce meeting.

They are introduced at the beginning of the film and are recycled many times over.

Another sizeable source for jokes is Ramesh Sippy's Sholay. Some of them are actually quite funny, particularly the scene where Deep and Rishi argue about whether Basanti (Hema Malini) danced before Gabbar (Amjad Khan) to save her own skin or because she loved Veeru (Dharmendra).

But it is such a pity that a talented crew -- cinematographer Mazhar Kamran (who shot Ram Gopal Varma's Satya), sound designer Dwarak Warrier (of Company and Bhoot) and bright music composers Vishal-Shekhar -- is wasted on such a wishy-washy film.

In fact, the music, which sounds refreshing on the audio cassette, fails to make an impact on screen, with the notable exception of Tu hai aasman mein. Even the title track, which actually is a good tribute to R D Burman's music, is lost in this cacophonous mess.

In the acting department, Rahul Bose comes up trumps with an intelligent performance as the sharp-witted Rishi. Also, because he mouths most of his dialogues in English, he doesn't stumble onto a language block. Rinke Khanna is quite natural too. If there is anything that works for the film, it is their tempestuous relationship.

A still from Jhankar BeatsJuhi Chawla looks cute and pregnant but doesn't have much of a role to display her talent. Sanjay Suri improves on his past record (Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi, Filhaal) with a reasonably decent act.

Shayan Munshi's debut is strictly okay. In a better part, he might have been slightly more endearing. As for Riya Sen, one hopes grandma Suchitra Sen (Devdas, Aandhi) is not watching her films. 

The makers of Jhankaar Beats have come out with a very impressive and colourful publicity brochure full of catchy one-liners and glossy pictures. If only Ghosh had put together a film that lived up to the hype built around it.

Cast: Sanjay Suri, Juhi Chawla, Rahul Bose, Rinke Khanna, Shayan Munshi, Riya Sen
Director: Sujoy Ghosh
Producer: Pritish Nandy Communications
Music: Vishal-Shekhar

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