Free Press Journal

Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai: If this is life, chuck it!


Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai

Cast: Arbaaz Khan, Manjari Phadnis, Supriya Pathak, Ashutosh Rana, Rati Agnihotri, Prem Chopra, Himansh Kohli

Director: Keshav Panneriy

This curdling ‘life’ story, runs arduously long and lame as it jumps from Rajasthan to America in a globe-trotting spiel of trial and tribulations faced by women in general, and one amalgamated prototype in particular, as they/she fight their way to success stories that can be celebrated. This one in fact starts off with the heroine Aliya (Manjari Phadnis) and her husband Aditya Kapoor (Arbaaz Khan) ceremoniously walking into the white house, albeit for her to be felicitated for her two Pulitzer prizes and latest hottest selling book –at the hands of the President of the USA nonetheless. God knows what she wrote about but needless to say that lifetime achievement gets truncated by a call. Aliya rushes back to Rajasthan while her husband stays back and receives the award on her behalf (I presume). Thankfully we don’t get to see the President or the honour bestowed so it’s much easier to curb our disbelief.

We see her being met at the airport by a man who addresses her as Rani sa. The penny clicks in. She is some kind of Royalty I guess and has come home for the funeral of Lakshmi (Supriya Pathak) her devoted, protector and confidant. But we don’t get to know that until after we are taken further back into her deprived childhood, discriminated against by catholic parents who were more enamoured over their sons. It’s not a pretty picture.

A whole range of stereotypes play out and they are not even believable. Aliya eventually falls for a boy Alex (Himansh Kohli) from her college but is forcibly married off to a misogynistic Hindu Prince Vikram Pratap Singh (Ashutosh Rana) by her avaricious father Peter. Aliya gets pregnant and the Prince wants to abort the child if it’s a girl so Lakshmi aids her in running away to Mumbai where she lands a job in Mayanagari, a hindi/Urdu paper. Her editor Mirza (Prem Chopra) mighty impressed by her skills (as read from her diary of all things?) has sent off her resume and particulars to a friend in New York who offers her a job on the spot. Fantasy trumps real life anytime I say. In the meanwhile she bumps into Aditya who is besotted by her and offers her his hand of friendship. Luckily enough, she manages to get her divorce and move to New York with her daughter to start life afresh. And what’s to say she wouldn’t meet up with the self-styled Industrialist Prince charming Aditya even across the seven seas?

The story line runs wild and implausible as it tries to convey the need for inculcating a never-say-die spirit in you. Watching a movie like this would be enough to send you in the opposite direction though. It’s not that the actors are bad. Manjari Phadnis is a solid performer who gives it her all trying to make this fraudulently contrived plot seem even halfway feasible. Her effort is commendable.

Rati in a brief cameo does well to emote with authority and Supriya Pathak appears to have walked off the ‘Khichdi’ sets straight into this film. Ashutosh Rana’s caricatured Prince is a poorly written role so he can’t be blamed for that. And Arbaaz Khan’s wooden body language cannot be masked even by that amiable face.

The script is indulgently laid out-too many unnecessary tit-bits, comedy routines, song situations and sub-plots which test your patience in the extreme. Debutant director Keshav Panneriy doesn’t appear to know when to call for a cut. So every enactment goes on and on without any end in sight- and there doesn’t appear to be an organic connect with the rest of the narrative. Add to that the misery of having to see 70’s styled narration, song picturisations and dialogues. Even Aliya’s kid conveniently gets forgotten from the frame whenever required. It also snows in Rajasthan (if you get my drift) so don’t go expecting much from this ridiculous women’s empowerment nonsense. The editing is slow (as in dim-witted , the background score is terrible and the songs just keep coming at you without end. It’s totally confounding. Why would anyone want to serve such lifeless ineptitude to today’s emancipated audience? 171 minutes of such adulterated drivel can take a toll on you. If this is life I’d rather step out of it!