TL;DR – It is said that a film succeeds if it makes you feel something, well if that is all it took than this film would be a success, but considering this made me feel revulsion and anger, I think it takes more than that.
Score – 1 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Warning – This film contains extensive scenes of abuse
Okay I’m going to be honest right from the start, I am coming to this film as someone who is from outside of India and does not have the most extensive experience with Indian cinema, so there may be some context I am missing. Also, by writing this review I feel like I am positioning myself in the same position as some of the people criticised in the film, an irony that is not lost on me. But all of that being said, you can skip to the end if you want because I do not in any shape or form recommend this film.
So to set the scene, we open in on a couple a man (Rohit Kokate) and women (Khushboo Upadhyay) who are walking along a coastal boardwalk in Mumbai. They are in a relationship but they are not married so they need to be discreet given the conservative aspects of Indian society. But as they talk it is clear that both of them want different things out of the relationship.
I move on to what didn’t work with the film, and there are some really big
issues here, I did want to point out that it is clear that a lot of technical
work has gone into the film. Most of the film is shot in these long take dialogue
scenes with the camera floating around all over the place. This gives you the
feeling like you are eavesdropping into someone’s private conversations. I cannot
begin to wonder the number of rehearsals needed for the cast and how much they
needed to learn for each take. Indeed, one of the things that makes this film
as frustrating as it is, is the fact that it is clear that a lot of talent has
gone into it.
This is a difficult review to write because this is not a film that failed because of technical issues, but because of the content of the story. I think anyone who has ever been in or seen an abusive relationship, or just anyone with any sense of decency would be able to see the warning signs of where this film was heading really early. I think this whole film can be summed up with one line of dialogue “you just hurt me for fun”. The man in this film is someone who we have all seen before, that guy who thinks they are all-knowing about philosophy and who quotes Nietzsche or Chomsky about life, but really they are just cherry-picking phrases that help support their shitty behaviour. This is the level that the film starts at and it is all downhill from here to the point where his comments about her body including that “the body begins to wear out [about childbirth]” comes only halfway through the film. The ending is just one long extended sexual assault that then gets even worse, and the way the film is structured it makes you the viewer complicit in the act.
I understand what this film is trying to do, or at least what I think this film
is trying to do. It feels like this is an almost two-hour middle finger to
conservative elements in India’s film industry, especially in the Central Board
of Film Certification (CBFC), as this film touches on just about every subject that
they usually ask to be cut. Indeed the film goes out of its way to reference
this and name check other films that have had problems like Padmaavat.
I am also sure that the feeling of being complicit after watching the final act
was also intentional which I think makes it all the worse for it. Whatever the
case may be, I think the film failed, and if I am wrong here then it is even
worse because any thin layer of justification for this film whisks away.
In the end, do we recommend Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil? No, not even in an ‘I should see why it is so bad’ kind of way.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow
Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,
he’ll be talking about International Relations,
or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil
Directed by – Aadish Keluskar
Written by – Aadish Keluskar
Cinematography by – Amey V Chavan
Edited by – Anvay Shinde
Production/Distribution Companies – Netflix
Starring – Khushboo Upadhyay, Rohit Kokate, Himanshu Kohli & Mohammed Shakir
Rating – Around an Australia: R18+