The JaDe projectTo those unfortunate enough not to have seen Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani, I can only say you don't know what you have missed. It has become one of those rare cult films that we will pass on to our grandchildren and must do everything to keep its memory and DVD prints alive for the generations ahead. No history of Bollywood can be called complete without devoting a chapter or two to this seminal work.
I am not being sarcastic at all. I think that in the history of any art, when one assiduously debates and rates the films in "the greatest ever" lists, it is only fair to the study of the art form to also consider some films that may represent other kinds of "highs". According to me, Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani is the paragon of all those Hindi films that seek out to create something modern and classy but fail so miserably in their execution of their intended purpose that they actually end up being significant in other parameters. The makers set out to create a "cool" version in the art, but they just don't have it in them to pull it off. Interestingly, they never themselves seem to get the magnitude of the mis-effort - it probably looks great to them when they make it. This has the happy result of a compounding of errors.
To call this a "camp classic" does not in my book do it justice. Do not tell me that the endless production line Mithun-*.Naidu or Ramsay films are in the JaDe category (I feel the need to invent a new term for these), for these are well-thought out products that are targeted to a particular audience; they add those ingredients that are most necessary and sufficient, and they never try going beyond these "market" requirements. As a similar example, I offer the films of Karan Johar, which exhibit these same principles: the audience is the Northener or the nostalgic-NRI, the emotions and sets are those requisite for such an audience and so are the stories.
But the JaDe films aren't so: they think they're making a mainstream film, but somewhere, somehow the execution goes awry. The maker's intentions and his actual capabilities pull towards opposite poles. The result of this dilemma is a JaDe classic.
It is my contention (and observations bear this out) that each form of art, indeed each sub-genre of these art forms spawn their own JaDe classics. As long as we have practitioners of these various arts, and as long as commercialism, lack of common sense, an anachronistic sense of timing and lack of vision for spotting incongruity exist in them, we will have some wonderful examples of JaDe. It has become a project of mine to list such instances in different arts, and to further illustrate these, I list some of my acquisitions:
Current Indian Advertising:
I still haven't seen a mightier JaDe than this one. I refer to the P.P. Jewellers and Design Estate ad that has plagued the telly box of late. The ad is notable for several reasons. One, like any good JaDe classic, is the choice of cast. There are three faces in it, one being a swift cameo. The ad consists of two disparate strands, a guy looking (ostensibly for the girl), and the girl who exhibits a tendency to flit from point to point. (I'm not being parochial, but somehow these two seem to be Pakistani, but this is not germane to the analysis.). The fellow's hair is hennaed in parts, and he has a hair style not unlike Salman Khan in Tere Naam, only much shorter. His expressions are priceless, his looks of anguish|disenchantment|quest|dyspepsia are quite superb. Conversely, the lady, swathed in jewels and a heavy sari is quite a butterfly. The best moment for me comes with the cameo of a little lad whose overall contribution to the theme of the ad, or indeed the plot of the guy and the girl, is zilch, in fact it borders on the negative side of the number line. The kid points to something left-of-camera - it remains a mystery for ever. At the end, girl is seated and guy places hands on her shoulders. A voice over tells us the name of the product viz. P.P. Jewellers and Design Estate which is supplemented with the address on screen (P.P. Jewellers and Design Estate, Pitampura (sic), Delhi.). It ends with another classic line: "... because they are the only one". "The only one" for what? This remains a puzzle wrapped in an enigma tied in a pallu.
I have no hesitation in anointing it the first JaDe of Indian ads, because (and you guessed it right) "they are the only one".
Indian TV Serials:
What else but Alif Laila? This Ramanand Sagar mega production draws from the technological innovations of serials like Ramayana and Sri Krishna. Where else since Star Wars would you see tubelights being used as laser beams in a ghamaasaan battle on the decks of a fake ship being rolled up and down with shots of the sea being inserted behind? I forget the name of the main actor (I think it was Shahnawaz, he also played Vasudev in "Krishna") who seemed to play Sinbad, and Hatim Tai and many others. He is a talented JaDe bloke. Sadly, I don't remember much of it with the passage of time. There are those who contend that Chandrakanta may be a better JaDe topper, but I haven't seen it properly. I still feel the overreaching spread of Alif Laila would still win.
Dancing in recent Hindi films:
I'm doing him an injustice as I haven't seen Tere Naam, but I think I haven't seen any better than Salman Khan in it. I don't want to compare this performance with Jeetendra's Himmatwala and Farz as they were greats from different eras - how can you compare two from different generations???
I don't have much experience in them, but having heard of Super Commando Dhruv in a B.C. Joshi Owl-in-the-Bowl "Indian comics" speciality in 2003 (that round could be considered in a JaDe of the quizzing world later on), I feel that it could be a possible contender for this category. I recently talked to a friend who was a fan of it, and yes, the signs are promising.
More JaDes later as I collect them. Have you any contributions to offer to this blog?