“Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil” — the cry of those condemned to be free
“I am free to do as I please…you are jealous of my freedom aren’t you?” says the protagonist of Aadish Keluskar’s Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil. And I am immediately reminded of Sartre’s “Man is condemned to be free” in Being and Nothingness. Unpredictable, Jaoon Kahan is a film that starts out in a way that one may assume is about ‘moments of being’. Long shots and conversations paced realistically with the sounds of the street as the only provider of any background music, makes us feel like we are intruding a couple’s innocent banter. But as the movie progresses the tone gets increasingly unsteady.
An accountant and his girlfriend meet up on a Saturday as it’s the only day of the week they are free from work to celebrate (both have different reasons) at café Gulshan. The first half is replete with harmless jokes, teasing and poking fun at each other’s flaws with the male protagonist chiming “Life is a comedy”. So, even as one may assume this to be a comedy, Jaoon Kahan is nothing but the Trojan horse of movies.
The character of the male protagonist has obvious similarities with Jimmy Porter from John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, an intelligent but cynical man of the working class who takes pride in his blatant honesty and fearlessness to talk about what he feels; be it politics (his sharp criticism along with Joginder, the taxi driver, of the ruling government and every other opposition party), how his lover isn’t conventionally attractive or about how he hates her friend Sunita (like Jimmy from Look Back in Anger expresses disgust for his wife’s friend Helena). Similar to a character who would be a product of the Angry Young Man movement of the 50's in Britain, the protagonist, with his snotty tirades is a perfect embodiment of the disillusioned middle class.
The female lead, on the other hand, is one with high hopes and romantic ideas of life and love that are consistently being shaken off by her beau, only to easily reappear (to the dismay of the male lead). Most interestingly, what, in the beginning seems like excessive psychological dependence by her soon turns out to be the male protagonist who relies on her for validation and a sense of identity. Nonetheless it represents a dysfunctional helping relationship and the reason for much pain and bitterness.
A tale of love, sex, freedom, relationships, the complexities of life in a city, loneliness and codependency and the consequent paranoia, wrapped in an impeccable script which is also self-aware (the conversation about how he’ll be in serious trouble of he spoke openly about politics in a movie script which was earlier done by Keluskar), compelling characters and a twist that will make you want to go back to the start and avert disaster, Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil is everything cinema was born for.