Janhit Mein Jaari review: In public interest, but it needed better storytelling

Nushrratt Bharuccha spreads the message of women safety, but the messy screenplay doesn’t do justice to the promising plot..

Rating: 2 / 5

By Mayur Lookhar

“You raise your fingers, I’ll raise my voice.” Manukamna, Nushrratt Bharuccha’s strong character won’t budge from spreading the women safety message that is janhit mein jaari (issued in public interest).

After the quirky drama Dream Girl [2019], writer Raaj Shaandilyaa comes up with another social satire. Janhit Mein Jaari [2022] aims to encourage use of condoms, not just to curb population, but also caution against unhealthy contraception. More importantly, it bats for women safety. And spreading this message is a lady. That’s what makes Shaandilyaa’s story eye catching. The writer, co-producer entrusts the task to director Jai Basantu Singh who helms his second feature. Singh is an experienced director in the television circuit.

Nushrratt Bharuccha in Janhit Mein Jaari [2022]

Manukamna’s foray into this cause is by default than any design. The lady has one month’s time to land a job or marry the groom chosen by her parents. After facing several rejections, Manukamna can’t control her excitement at landing a saleswoman’s job at Little Umbrella Pvt Ltd, headed by Aadarniya ji [Brijendra Kala]. She presumes it to be an umbrella manufacturing firm, but is shocked to find that the little umbrella here is a condom. A 40,000 rupees monthly salary is too good to let go in a small town like Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh.

Naturally, she guards her professional secret from her family, but it isn’t long before her young sisters are caught playing with the ‘Little Umbrella’ packets. Around the same time, she falls in love with Ranjan [Anud Singh Dhaka], and the couple are soon married. But Manukamna aka Manu can’t disclose this to her in-laws. The cat though is soon out of the bag, leaving her father-in-law Kewal [Vijay Raaz] angry. Manu is caught between family and duty.

Shaandilyaa is aided by director Jai Basantu Singh, Rajan Agarwal, Sonali Singh in fleshing out the 146 minute long screenplay. It’s not the minutes, but the below par screenplay that doesn’t do justice to its noble cause. While Hindi cinema has regularly addressed social issues, but it’s not been that open in dealing with below-the-belt subjects. A Vicky Donor [2022] opened our eyes to sperm donation. Pad Man [2018] was inspired by the story of sanitary pad maker Arunachalam Muruganantham. Population control, ill effects of contraception, women safety due to unwanted pregnancy is a relatively untouched subject. It’s perhaps fair to say that Bollywood is still trying to decipher the best language, tone to address these issues.

A Janhit Mein Jaari initiates a conversation, but the tone, language might be too direct for the conservative masses. Most of the time, poor Manu’s message becomes a laughing matter for the largely male crowd. Besides, Manu only addresses the issue with conviction after a tragedy. Prior to the tragedy, selling condom is simply part of her livelihood. There appears to be no larger cause as the first half is mostly wasted in Manu trying to conceal her true job profile from her parents and then later her in-laws. The film does question condom advertisements where pleasure is prioritized over safety, birth control. Most condom ads/packets carry intimate picture of gorgeous couple thereby reducing the relevance of such safety products to mere pleasure.

For a career-minded girl who rejected many proposals, it is bizarre for Manu to be instantly smitten by Ranjan [Dhaka], a jobless man who only makes little money by participating in Ram Leelas. [Love Ranjan! Hangover from Luv Ranjan films or genuine respect for her mentor]. The friendship is rushed and in no time the lady desires pre-marital sex. While a woman is prone to throwing such test at a man, but it is the answer that stuns us. “Middle class men don’t do this [sex] before marriage”. Seriously, are you kidding us in 2022? Besides, Mr. Ranjan is free to speak for himself but middle class men certainly don’t need any such certification? There is no real chemistry going between Bharuccha and Anud Singh Dhaka. Thankfully, the writers don’t shy from disclosing that Manu is couple of years older to Ranjan [Dhaka].

Given the opposition from her in-laws, and a weak husband, it is only natural for one to question Manu’s marital choice. Bharuccha is sincere and puts up a confident show, especially while raising the birth control, women safety subject. She buried her gold digger tag from Luv Ranjans films with Chhorii [2021] last year. She had an academic role in Shaandilyaa’s Dream Girl [2019]. Bharuccha comes out strongly in Janhit Mein Jaari without offending any (male) egos.

Young Anud Singh Dhaka’s lean frame, soft nature fits the character requirement. No henpecked husband, but he is happy to give his wife her freedom. Once her professional secret is out, Ranjan uses a silly underwear analogy to describe his predicament. Hopefully, the young actor will get better opportunities to prove his mettle.

While he was brilliant in playing father to Ranveer Singh in Gully Boy [2019], Vijay Raaz [59] still doesn’t strike you as an ideal babuji (fatherly) material in social, family dramas. Though hampered by the average screenplay, Raaz chips in with another admirable show.

Paritosh Tripathi, popularly known as Mamaji from reality TV shows, impresses as the childhood friend of Manu. He’s loved Manu all his life, but never mustered the courage to reveal his true feelings.

The rest of the cast that includes veteran actor Tinnu Anand are wasted. Dadaji [Anand] is blind, and he’s banking on his son Kewal [Raaz] to win the Gram Panchayat elections that would enable him to get his vision restored. Phew, what are the writer, director implying? Does a Gram Pradhan’s post comes with health insurance policy for parents? If not, then is Dadaji hoping that his surgery cost will be covered by government sanctioned funds?

There are many such loose ends in the screenplay that drag Janhit Mein Jaari down. The music is uninspiring and there’s not much technical brilliance on display. The poor climax mirrors melodrama from cliched desi soaps. One moment, it is a matter of life and death, but two minutes later, it is all hunky dory. We felt the writer and director dragged on with Manu’s personal struggle a bit too much.

While subtle humour is needed to deal with taboo subjects, but a subject like birth control, women safety ought to be dealt seriously in those intense moments. Using puns, innuendos rob the issue of the seriousness that it deserves. Janhit Mein Jaari spells out its cause but it needed a more mature narrative. Film or not, but we hope our readers believe in safe sex policy. If you’re not too keen on Janhit Mein Jaari, maybe simply tune into to Dr. Alban’s Roll Down Di Rubber, Man track. Not just birth control, the popular track also raised awareness against STDs. Stoke the fear of death/disease and men are likely to fall in line.

Janhit Mein Jaari [2022] is set to be released in theatres on 10 June. Watch the trailer below.


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