Pay it forward – or get out of the way
Mr. Khan’s recent milestone-climbing resurgence is more or less centered on being a good-guy (or a good-bad guy), delivering punches and punch-lines, while romancing his leading ladies during sing-songs. It’s a winning, clear-cut, “trending” formula – and, maybe, a just demand from Mr. Khan’s audiences. Because Mr. Khan himself is a trending commodity, one shouldn’t fault the man into trying out something, so very slightly, out of the ordinary – as long as the movie is gift-wrapped in commercial wrappings.
In “Jai Ho” Mr. Khan, who plays Jai, an ex-army man relegated to civilian status, has a sudden revelation after delivering a stolen baby to its parents: why not tell the parents to pay the kindness forward by helping three other people in return. Carried away by the whim of his idea, Jai begins doodling stick-figures and jotting down multiplying arithmetic numbers. The idea is preposterous, but doable – depending on who stops the buck. (The notion of helping three people, by the way, is lifted from the novel-turned-movie “Pay It Forward”, from a long-standing concept of the same name).
The rest of “Jai Ho”, a ditto-copy of A R Murugadoss’ “Stalin” starring Chiranjeevi as Mr. Khan’s original, is about the usual stuff: Jai falls in love with his next door neighbor (an okay-ish Daisy Shah), has a strong-willed sister (Tabu), two friends (Yash Tonk and Ashmit Patel), contends with villains (Danny Denzongpa, Aditya Pancholi, Sharad Kapoor, Sana Khan) and meets about a dozen supporting actors playing bit parts.
While Mr. Murugadoss’ version works-up a protracted (and unwelcomed) running time of nearly three-hours, “Jai Ho” prudently slashes off an hour of deviating excesses – including Mr. Chiranjeevi’s juggernaut-like indestructibility from “Stalin”.
The screenplay (co-authored by Mr. Murugadoss and Dilip Shukla), often a literal paste-up of scenes and dialogues, does bridge some of the original’s more inane narrative loopholes, linking up supporting characters into a better chain of events – at least on paper.
On the frames, however, there is a major glitch: director Sohail Khan.
Mr. Khan, the other Mr. Khan’s brother, has a loose handle on his scenes, almost as if the “Jai Ho” was shot in a rushed production schedule. The performances, especially of Jai’s mother played by Nadira Babbar, are off-key, the scenes fall over themselves (badly timed edits or a gap of bridging shots), the lighting design is overly bright without dimensions and the camera moves – or even its static placement – is abortive.
The hitches, rather than pronounce themselves, fade away in their own time, maybe because our attention is offset by Jai’s roaring screams that have a tendency to dumbfound villains, or Ms. Shah’s beauty shots in sparkly flashes of lights – or, lest I forget, Naman Jain’s very loud, attention grabbing turn as Jai’s smart-alec nephew.
Mr. Khan, despite the stuffed up commercialism, wears a droopy look for a good bulk of “Jai Ho” – as if he’s almost sure of the concept’s imminent demise by self-seeking people, who may just be hoorah-ing at the movie’s box-office predictions and not the morals of the story.
Released by Eros, “Jai Ho” is rated U – for a lot of bone-crunching, sandwiched between songs and a plea for humanity.
Directed by Sohail Khan; Produced by Mr. Khan, Sunil Lulla; Written by A R Murugadoss (based on Stalin by Mr. Murugadoss); Screenplay by Dilip Shukla; Music by Sajid-Wajid, Devi Sri Prasad, Amal Malik; Cinematography by Santosh Thundiyil; Editing by Harsh Tiwari.
Starring: Salman Khan, Tabu, Daisy Shah, Danny Denzongpa, Nadira Babbar, Suniel Shetty, Genelia D'Souza, Mohnish Bahl, Sana Khan, Mukul Dev, Mahesh Thakur, Resham Tipnis, Ashmit Patel, Yash Tonk, Haroon Qazi, Mahesh Manjrekar, Aditya Pancholi, Sharad Kapoor, Pulkit Samrat, Tulip Joshi, Varun Badola, Nauheed Cyrusi, Vikas Bhalla, Bruna Abdullah, Sudesh Lehri, Santosh Shukla and Naman Jain.