Navya Nair stands out!
Janaki Jaane (Malayalam)
- Cast: Navya Nair, Saiju Kurup, and Johny Antony
Director: Aneesh Upasana
Producer: SCube Films
Runtime: 2 hours 4 minutes
Do you fear going alone in the dark? Are you scared to watch horror films? If yes, you can easily relate to Janaki of Janaki Jaane.
Janaki is afraid of everything. She fears the dark and sleeps at night with her mother without switching off the light in her room. She isn’t even brave enough to ask the conductor of a private bus for the balanced amount.
Janaki Jaane is directed by Aneesh Upasana, who earlier helmed Matinee (2012) and Seconds (2014).
The film showcases how a woman deals with her irrational fears. The hurdles she faces in her life due to her widespread fear of everything (referred to as Pantophobia) make the movie an engaging affair.
Janaki Jaane has an interesting plot which is mixed with the current political scenario.
Janaki marries Unni Mukundan (Saiju Kurup), a subcontractor doing road works at the panchayat level.
Before the plot reaches their marriage, the director showcases Janaki’s fear factor through many instances. Some of the scenes would evoke laughter among audiences in the theatre.
When the power goes off during their wedding reception, a scared Janaki goes to her husband to feel secure. But when the power gets restored, she is seen hugging a young politician Martin (Sarjano Khalid), by mistake, who stands near her husband.
This instance is photographed by the rival party members of Martin who is contesting for his constituency by-elections.
This image goes viral on social media and the rival political party takes advantage of the situation. The news report of these photographs, aimed at tarnishing the image of Martin, gets flashed on news channels.
Janaki and Unni initially handle the situation. But later, they are forced to leave their house as the media starts discussing the news in prime time.
How the couple faces the issues and how Janaki, a vulnerable woman, overcomes these critical situations form the crux of the movie.
Different shades of love
Since audiences are familiar with today’s political games, the plot seems relevant.
In Janaki Jaane, Janaki’s image too gets tarnished along with Martin’s. The portrayal of the ruling party in a negative shade in films is usually accepted in Kerala. Still, there are chances that this point might draw criticism.
Director Aneesh Upasana introduces different shades of love through two different couples.
Janaki and Unni respect and love each other. But Janaki calls him Unni ettan, a traditional way of addressing husbands.
Meanwhile, Anarkali Marikar plays a modern girl named Maria who is in a live-in relationship with Manu (Sharafudeen).
Janaki-Unni meets Manu-Maria in a funny incident. Janaki learns to overcome her fears as she builds rapport with Manu-Maria. The duo inspire her.
Nowhere in the film, the director tries to spoon-feed messages. As Manu talks more about Janaki’s fears, she understands her problems and tries to rectify them.
Towards the climax, Janaki even tells Shaji (Kottayam Nazeer), the person behind the viral photograph, to shut his mouth.
Thus, Janaki Jaane can be considered a woman-oriented film.
Navya Nair delivers a superb performance as Janaki. She is back to her form after the hit movie Oruthee (A Lady, 2022). Her portrayal of a woman with widespread fears has both the elements of comedy and seriousness.
Saiju Kurup is quite a performer. He seems to be upgrading himself as an actor with every movie. His comic timing goes well.
Saiju and Navya Nair’s onscreen chemistry works wonders for the film.
Sminu as Unni’s “gossiping aunt” Satya Bhama has a major role to play. She is quite similar to the characters we see in TV serials — a problem-creator in families.
Kottayam Nazeer gets one of his career’s best roles as Shaji, the cruel politician.
Pramod Valiyanad and Johny Antony are decent.
The music by Kailas Menon lends a good mood to the movie.
Janaki Jaane is a woman-oriented film with a different plot and connects well with family audiences.
(Views expressed are personal.)