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.::Responsibilities vs Desires::.
Feb 20, 2004 09:06 AM 3521 Views
(Updated Feb 21, 2004 03:52 AM)





A desire in whatsoever mould doesn’t really first question the sensibilities before surfacing. It’s the most innate, most natural form of reciprocation—in fact so elemental that it even carves its niche amongst probably the life’s most maddeningly inexplicable occurences. And Joggers’ Park visits just this very nook, this earthy feeling in what probably can be complimented as the most identifiable fashion.

Very tastefully, the film shrinks itself to fit in the two contrastive characters, Jenny (Perizaad Zorabian) and retired Justice Chatterjee—JC for short (Victor Bannerjee), and through their subsequent trysts in a suburb park in Mumbai one explores their passions, their vulnerabilities, their feelings and their lives. Slowly, but definitely how the sheer glow and radiance of Jenny starts over-whelming the austerely leaden soul of JC and this whole metamorphosis that JC goes through in the process before he makes a decision between his commitments and desires practically sums up the whole premise.

The stars of the enterprise have to be these two principal characters—JC and Jenny. Particularly JC whose ambivalence and vulnerability is all too (hilariously) evident in the first half. You notice him all too wonderfully cosseted in an enigmatic shell where everything around is just too politically correct, and yet below this cocoon lies a socially defunct individual who’s surprisingly too joyous about being indulgent (notice how he’s boastful about his words). And this social-disciplinary act continues in his precisely worded yet peripheral—even self-contradictory public speeches (they might start off at “when u fall u can either fracture or break your heart” but only 2 seconds later he utters “love, romance and sex the very essence and meaning of life” and just when he’s about to handover the mic, “don’t ever sacrifice your social and cultural traditions”). This political correctitude which breeds confusion, an almost stoic composure which breeds appreciation, JC is every bit of a grave public figure as he’s a successful patriarch.

Which only makes the ongoings interesting as the lush, lively, exuberant Jenny enters the scene. She first fuels JC’s self-indulgence to bounce through a legal problem but one notices this subtle surfacing of JC’s infatuation towards her. And the consequences are sure to crack you up as you notice this school-boy charm budding in JC as he gets feverishly excited when demonstrating his new pair of running shoes gifted by Jenny to his wife, his anxiousness at every phone-bell as Jenny goes missing for a couple of days.

What strikes home even more is the number of instances when this budding schoolboy clashes with the public figure—him fumbling out “Jenny has my towel” when enquiring about Jenny’s whereabouts, or valiantly trying to hide his face by dark goggles and hands as he’s enquiring for Jenny’s new flat or blurting out he’s going to a restaurant when actually he’s zooming to a loo or excusing himself for being at a wrong address of a bloke called John when met with some acquaintance outside Jenny’s house. Such is his inner conflict that it takes him to a psychologist, where veiling himself behind a friend’s name he questions “Is this normal?” only too relieved to get a positive reply. Such innocent obliviousness of the character is brought out excellently by Victor Bannerjee’s finely nuanced performance.

Jenny’s character besides sporting this girl-next-door charm and confidence oscillates the scales to just the right level with its self-awareness (she’s the one who solves JC’s inner conflict) creating a fantastic balance to JC’s confused state of mind. And what’s laudable is that Perizaad Zorabian ropes in a freewheeling performance that sails through the solitude, ridicule, care, betrayal and self-assurance with such consummate ease that its hard to even quote, let alone imagine, that this is her mainstream debut. Besides having an illuminating screen presence, being so deep inside Jenny’s skin, it actually is impossible to imagine Jenny and Perizaad as different beings.

Technically, the film’s saturated with proficiency what with naturalistic dialogues, some fabulously directed sequences by Late Anant Balani whose sensitive direction is majorly helped by exquisite camerawork and the royal musical score by Tabun Sutradhaar whose haunting melodies like “Badi Naazuk Hai”, “Dil Jalta Hai” and “Ishq Hota Nahin” provide a lilting backdrop while others like “Mann Mere” and “Joggers’ Park” sung boisterously by Usha Uthup give that extra weight and substantiality to the actual entity to which the film owes its title—Joggers’ Park. What’s common in all the ditties’ lyrics is their amazing relevance to the actual events in the film. A gem of a music score must say!

Editing could have been better but the 10-15 minutes of extra flab that the film sports is definitely nowhere as repulsive as the never-ending family sagas which have become a trend nowadays. Since the dialogues and the feel have to be incorporated at the screenplay level, its strength at depicting the relationships realistically and giving a well rounded off structure shines through though one would have liked Javed Siddiqui’s character a trifle more fleshed out than it was and definitely an explanation about the location of cameraman clicking all those photos of JC-Jenny which emerge all too suddenly and with surprising numbers in the climax wouldn't have harmed. On a brighter side Divyaa Dutta’s character is terrifically drawn and the portrayal of the dutiful daughter who’s responsible for completely switching the direction of the tidings towards the climax is excellently done by this adept actress.

A platonic caring relationship that buds off from Jenny-JC’s friendship has been masterfully contrasted with the stereotypical extra-marital affairs as projected by our cinema (there’s a sardarji coochie-cooing with his son’s teacher) and paralleled with teenage crushes through JC’s grand-daughter. However the most dramatic sequences bud from the stigma associated with the age-difference and one notices the sheer rigidity of the society to accept the existence of such a relationship. In fact this realisation is also dawned upon JC as his son indulges in an extra-marital relationship, but yet his heart never seems to tolerate the reins of his sensibilities. Its not until the grand revelation towards the finale which pits personal desires against responsibilities that JC realises the futility of his relationship with Jenny.


Its approach is pragmatic, banter identifiable, characters fresh, situations vivid and the basic comment emerges very strongly that it’s not the fact that differences in age come in the path of any relationship since the protagonists are all too ready to bear and live with it till the mental compatibility is present but when weighed with their previous commitments the momentary desire feels woefully light and surprisingly shallow. And its nothing but sheer craziness to shrug off years of love, dedication and affection from your family just to fulfil a desire. Or is it? Watch this beautiful film for the answer.


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Joggers Park