If there is one thing to be said for Shaad Ali, it is that he is a very good pupil. Ali faithfully followed Tamil director Mani Ratnam, assisting him on several films and remaking one of the latter’s best romantic films “Alaipayuthey” in Hindi as “Saathiya”. After several failed outings at the box office in recent years, Ali returns with a remake of Ratnam’s 2015 hit “O Kadhal Kanmani”.
Perhaps it is because of Ali’s faithfulness to Ratnam, or perhaps because the source material is so strong, it is difficult to get “O Kadhal Kanmani” out of your head while watching “OK Jaanu”. While ‘Kanmani’ wasn’t in the league of Ratnam’s earlier films, it was hugely enjoyable because of the two electric lead actors, Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen.
In “OK Jaanu”, Shraddha Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapur have a very tough act to follow. They play Adi, a video game developer, and Tara, an architect. The duo meet in Mumbai, and give each other the usual spiel about being invested in their careers and not interested in marriage. But love blossoms soon, and they realise that living a commitment-free life may not be that easy.
Their relationship is contrasted with the lives of the couple (Naseeruddin Shah and Leela Samson) they live with as paying guests. As Adi and Tara go through their ups and downs, they find lessons in the older couple living out the evening of their lives with each other.
For those who have watched the original movie, none of this is new. Ali’s copy is as fervent and as mindless as a student who copies from the guy sitting next to him during an exam. Every full stop and comma is noted down without an original thought. And while Ali can get away with copying his mentor’s film scene for scene, chemistry is something that cannot be replicated.
Both Kapur and Kapoor try hard to bring the same sparking chemistry as Salmaan and Menen, and succeed in parts. But it is not enough. Even for that limited success, they can thank cinematographer Ravi K Chandran, who infuses the scenes with such warm lights, and shoots the young couple on their jaunts through Mumbai with such panache, that it is hard not to like them.
Even then, there is something to be said for a film that takes a tired romantic trope and turns it into a tale that will bring a smile to your face. But any credit must go to Mani Ratnam. Ali and his cast are merely transcribers here.