It’s by now a tradition — and the film fraternity looks forward to it big time — to have a Khan starrer create new benchmarks at the BO year after year. While Aamir Khan and SRK had a film release each in 2013, Salman Khan did not. Of course, the charismatic actor hosted a popular reality show on television last year, but one did miss him on the big screen. The year 2014 now kick-starts with the Salman starrer JAI HO, directed by his younger brother Sohail Khan, who returns to the director’s seat after more than a decade.
Let’s come to the point right away! JAI HO does not fall into the WANTED, DABANGG, READY, BODYGUARD, EK THA TIGER or DABANGG-2 space. And yet it does! This one focuses on a conflict and how the protagonist takes it up, which is reminiscent of the much-admired MUNNABHAI series. One can also draw parallels between JAI HO and the current political scenario, since it looks at the power the common man yields today. Additionally, JAI HO carries a noble message that could bring about a change in the society for the better, with Salman playing a righteous Samaritan. Concurrently, there are episodes — especially the ones when Salman challenges the opponent or gets into a duel with the henchmen — that makes JAI HO similar to the above-mentioned masala entertainers, besides pleasing the legion of ‘Bhai fans’ who expect their fav star to roar and fight like a lion, besides deliver lines such as ‘Aam aadmi sota hua sher hain, ungli mat kar, jaag gaya to cheer-phaad dega’.
For the uninitiated, JAI HO is a remake of Telugu film STALIN , starring Chiranjeevi, Trisha, Khushboo and Prakash Raj and directed by A.R. Murugadoss, which, reportedly, was inspired by the Hollywood film PAY IT FORWARD , starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment.
Jai [Salman Khan], an upright common man, is fighting a solitary war against corruption and injustice. Honest and incorruptible, he has made it his mission to help as many people as he can. His mantra is quite simple — help somebody and then request that person to lend a helping hand to somebody else — thus forming an ever-growing circle of people helping each other.
In a strange twist of fate, he finds himself pitted against a powerful politician [Danny Denzongpa] and his vile family. Jai, who is an ex-army officer, will not shy away from a battle, however bloody it may get and firmly believes that you do not have to wear a uniform to serve your country. As the politician unleashes his violent goons on braveheart Jai, Geeta [Tabu], Jai’s sister, realises the horrific consequences this can have on her brother and the rest of their family.
She persuades a reluctant Jai to make peace with the politician. But when this leads to humiliation being heaped on him, Jai loses his cool and declares all out war. It is an unequal war — on side side is the politician with his numerous henchmen and on the other side is Jai — all alone. However, unknown to Jai, a silent revolution has already begun. The voiceless public, he has helped in the past, is gathering force. It finally has a voice and this voice cannot and will not be silenced.
Although a remake, JAI HO follows the Rajkumar Hirani formula of addressing an issue, but at the same time Sohail Khan makes sure that the audience, especially the die-hard fans of Salman Khan, gets its dose of entertainment. Salman is *not* the prototypical superhero or the tough guy you expect him to be, in the initial portions of the film. The first half focuses primarily on the sub-plots, beginning with his relationship with his mother [Nadira Babbar], sister [Tabu] and sweetheart [Daisy Shah]. He’s the aam aadmi who’s making attempts to make the world a better place in his own small way. The conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist comes to the fore only towards the post-interval portions, when the two factions collide. It’s at this point that the film changes tracks, with Salman donning the avatar of the avenger and setting things right.
Salman is like one of those fabled characters in the second half of JAI HO. Besides, the writer integrates the message of what goes around comes around, with the Salman brand of entertainment smartly intertwined in the absorbing screenplay. The emotional punches, fighting the baddies with his iron fist, acidic and punch-packed dialogues delivered in high energy, volatile confrontations… JAI HO serves it all. The cynics and naysayers may argue, well, haven’t the spectators watched Salman doing all this earlier? Why again? Sure, there are certain attributes and characteristic synonymous with the actor and JAI HO serves it unabashedly. It’s 2.25 hours of Salman, Salman and Salman doing what he does best, including going shirtless, flaunting his well-toned physique towards the final moments of the film [a brilliantly executed action sequence].
While JAI HO carries the tag of being a typical Salman fare faithfully, it falls short in its music department. Tuneful and melodious music are a given in a Salman fare, but the soundtrack of JAI HO could’ve been better. Barring ‘Apna Kaam Banta’, which has power-packed, hard-hitting lyrics, the remaining songs are ordinary, unlike Salman’s previous endeavours which were embellished with a harmonious, lilting soundtrack. In fact, the two romantic tracks lack fizz, while the song at the engagement ceremony is passable.
Directorially, Sohail Khan remains faithful to the original, well aware that one cannot experiment much in a standard format. Yet, one cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that a number of sequences do leave a stunning impact. I’d like to mention two here: Salman’s confrontation with Danny, which is outstanding. The penultimate moments — a sea of people get assembled outside the hospital — moves you no end and can be termed the highpoint of the enterprise. It leaves you awestruck! Also, Sohail’s handling of the emotional sequences deserves mention. It makes you moist-eyed on several occasions. Dialogues are aimed at making the Salman fans get a high and they do serve the purpose. Cinematography is top notch, while action sequences are well orchestrated. The background score is perfect.
JAI HO is a Salman show through and through and the actor rises above the script to deliver a bravura performance. The actor fires on all cylinders, standing tall and dwarfing everything and everyone in sight. You cannot take your eyes off him, he’s simply incredible. Tabu returns to the masala zone after a hiatus and the choice of film couldn’t be more appropriate. For, there’s ample meat in her character to stand out. Daisy Shah doesn’t really get much scope, but you cannot ignore the fact that she’s a terrific and graceful dancer. Danny Denzongpa enacts the evil politician with gusto. Sana Khan leaves a mark in a role that has negative shades. Genelia Deshmukh is wonderful in a brief but significant role. Nadira Babbar is first-rate. Pulkit Samrat is efficient. Naman Jain, who enacts the role of Salman’s nephew, is super. Suniel Shetty appears in a cameo.
The film has a strong supporting cast, which includes Mahesh Manjrekar, Aditya Pancholi, Mohnish Bahl, Sharad Kapoor, Mahesh Thakur, Mukul Dev, Ashmit Patel, Yash Tonk, Varun Badola, Vatsal Sheth, Tulip Joshi, Haroon Qazi and Sudesh Lehri. They enact their respective characters well. Santosh Shukla makes a confident big screen debut. Also, the actor who enacts the part of the drunkard stands out.
On the whole, a noble, well-intentioned message narrated in an entertaining format in a Salman Khan movie, who, as we all know by now, is the much endeared hero of the masses, makes JAI HO a sure-shot winner. In fact, it won’t be wrong to state that JAI HO easily ranks amongst Salman’s better films. This one has the potential to emerge a Blockbuster at the box-office.