Though the narrative is predictable, the writing and performances of the ensemble keep you invested in the proceedings, dotted with everyday humour

Though the narrative is predictable, the writing and performances of the ensemble keep you invested in the proceedings, dotted with everyday humour

As the title suggests, this is a long public interest advertisement masquerading as a film. The message is as clear as day and night: contraceptives are not for pleasure, but for protection against unwanted pregnancy and abortion. Isn’t it a dated concept? … not quite in the areas where the narrative takes us.

Writer Raaj Shandilayaa and director Jai Basantu Singh create a believable universe in the Chanderi town in Madhya Pradesh. The script is full of witty observations of the milieu, and the dialect sounds authentic and the punchlines consistently make you chuckle.

By the intermission, it is absolutely clear where the narrative is headed but still, the writing and performances of the ensemble keep you invested in the proceedings, dotted with everyday humour.

Having started his career as a writer for comedy shows, Raaj’s screenplay, sometimes, feels like moving from one skit to a sketch, but here it works far better than some of his more celebrated contemporaries. The shrillness that sometimes mars such projects has thankfully been minimised here.

As Manokamna, the sales executive of a small condom company, Nushrratt Bharuccha is like the cousin of Vicky Donor. Like Vicky, she is out there to break a taboo. Unlike the spelling of her name, Nushratt’s performance is straightforward. She consistently captures the small-town sass and represents the new girl-next-door found in the congested lanes, where employment and aspiration are inversely proportional.

Vijay Raaz provides an effective counterpoint as a symbol of the old world shackled by tradition. His body language captures the flutter in his conscience when he is faced with the prospect of his daughter-in-law selling contraceptives.

Anud Singh Dhaka as Ranjan is like the twin brother of Jayeshbhai. Like his Gujarati counterpart, Ranjan knows what is right but can’t express it because of paternal pressure. Once epitomised by Rishi Kapoor, he represents the filmy adage that behind a successful woman, there is a quiet, supportive husband. Paritosh Tripathi and Sukriti Gupta add to the colourful universe with credible sketches of people we know but don’t often find on screen. Then there is Bijendra Kala and others who shine every time they get something to bite into.

As we proceed towards the climax, the writing gets a tad didactic, the jokes and situations are stretched beyond their potential, and the advertisement starts getting repetitive. Still, the “Little Umbrella”, that Manokamna sells, provides more than reasonable protection from boredom.

Janhit Mein Jaari is currently running in theatres



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