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Jahaan Chaar Yaar, A Well-Intended  Sisterly Bro-mance 

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Jahaan Chaar Yaar

Jahaan Chaar Yaar

Starring Swara Bhaskar, Meher Vij, Shikha  Talsania,  Pooja Chopra, Girish Pandey

Written  & Directed by Kamal Pandey

Rating: ***

 There aren’t  many films around   about  35-plus women  taking  off on an all-girls’  vacation.Producer Vinod Bachchan and director Kamal Pandey venture into this unexplored territory, with  mixed results.

That  Swara Bhaskar’s  Shivangi,  Meher Vij’s Mansi,  Shikha Talsania’s  Neha and Pooja Chopra’s  Sakina are  wretchedly  unhappy and the great grumblers in the casino of  life , is  as clear as an  over-sunlit daylight. One  of them has to slog round-the-clock to keep her in-laws happy,  that’s Swara  slipping into her  husband-fearing role with admirable  confidence.

 Another one , Shikha Talsania, hasn’t had sex  with her husband for two years… a  third, the token Muslim  presence,   is  sick of her husband threatening  to  do  a triple  talaaq on her, although   a politically savvy elder in the  vicinity  points out, it is illegal.

Much of what happens  in  Jahan Chaar Yaar  once the ladies  unite(they  have nothing to lose expect their chayan,equilibrium ) for  a getaway  to  Goa,  is  illegal. Defying all  logic and decency, they  invite an Australian  stranger(an Indian actor  with peroxided  hair doing an mawkish impersonation  of  Saif Ali Khan in  Go Goan Gone) into their hotel room for a night of illicit  fun.

If  you can swallow the  idea of four repressed  middleclass women lusting after an ‘Australian’ tourist(who could be  anything from a drug dealer  to  a hired  killer to Saif’s longlost twin) in the privacy  of their hotel, then perhaps everything that  follows thereafter  would make sense.

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While the  basic  idea  of  a breather  for  women chained  to domesticity is interesting, much  of the writing(by  Kamlesh Pandey) comes  close to clunky. The  dialogues among the four  female friends seem  labored and often  designed to shock conservative elements.

“When was the last time we  did  it?” asks  Shikha Talsania, who was  so  ebullient in that other  girl-bonding  film Veere De Wedding .She  is  surprisingly subdued  here as  a housewife tolerating  her husband’s  infidelity.Meher Vij, so  memorable in Secret Superstar, comes  across as the weakest  and  most compromised. She  is portrayed as  serious spouse abuser and  yet we are supposed to feel empathy for her.

The  best  written  of  the  four    protagonists part is that of Swara Bhaskar as a  abused exploited  housewife brimming with guilt for  even a moment to herself.  In is interesting to see Swara  go from the  woman who  endorsed a  self-pleasuring instrument  in Veere De Wedding  doing a complete  about-turn.

Another well-written  character  in this  not-unlikeable  saga of  four muddled women biting  into more than  they could chew(the same,alas, is true  of the  film’s writer-director) is that  of  the  cop Madhukar Rane, played by the  ever-dependable  Girish Kulkarni who is actually able to  give his character a  graph from smirking sexism to a flickering gender-empathy.

Jahan Chaar  Yaar  is  not an unbearable film. But  it  doesn’t seem  very sure  of  where it  wants to  go with its  gender statement.  Goa, it is.  Once there,  the  film becomes a muddle mystery , leaving us the audience as  exasperated as  the  four  feisty(on paper) women.

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