Bollywood Reviews, Movie Reviews

JAANE JAAN Is Sujoy Ghosh Returning To His Atmospheric Thriller Era

Jaane Jaan, or Suspect X as it’s known in other parts of the world, is a great new thriller starring Kareena Kapoor Khan. Director Sujoy Ghosh goes back to the thriller genre in a movie that’s an official adaptation of the Japanese novel The Devotion Of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino. The movie is less a murder mystery, and more of a suspense thriller with enough twists and turns to keep even the most experienced cinephile guessing. With intense performances, this Jaane Jaan review will discuss why it’s definitely a movie worth your time.

Please note that this Jaane Jaan review is completely spoiler-free.

Jaane Jaan Takes It Time, But Still Keeps Audiences Engaged

Jaane Jaan review Ahlawat

Image via Netflix.

While delivering many hits and considered an icon of Bollywood, Kareena Kapoor Khan has seemingly entered into a more mature phase of her career, with a performance that feels entirely new. The instant Kapoor Khan graces the screen in the opening moments of Jaane Jaan, you already get a sense of seriousness and maturity that the actress hasn’t delivered as often as I, personally would like. Despite career-defining performances in Chameli, Talaash, Heroine and others, Kapoor Khan really shines here after a long time.

Jaane Jaan begins with Maya (Kapoor Khan) a single mother in Nepal raising a daughter, and running a modest local cafe. Her neighbour is a creepy, but seemingly harmless local school teacher, simply known as Teacher to the whole town. The Teacher (Jaideep Ahlawat) seemingly has a crush on Maya, despite never actually acting on it at all. When someone from Maya’s past returns to her life, this small town quickly becomes the setting for a tense and suspenseful thriller that unfolds at a relaxed albeit urgent pace.

For Better Or For Worse, This Isn’t The Usual Thriller

Jaane Jaan review Verma

Image via Netflix.

Jaane Jaan is an interesting movie, as it doesn’t follow the usual angles of a thriller. While that may be to its detriment for some audiences, it really worked for me. The major twists come early, and the rest of the movie spends its time dealing with the fallout of those plot points. While Ghosh also infuses the direction with some choices that keep audiences guessing until the reveal, more through misdirection and atmosphere, than any explicit deception. At least, not in the storytelling.

The story is also more about how things happen, than what is actually happening. The reveals are character-driven, and not plot point-driven. This is probably more credit to the source material than Jaane Jaan itself, But Ghosh does a great job of keeping things tense and moving, with his direction of the actors, and some visual camera angles and framing that really catches the audience’s eye.

Kareena Kapoor Khan Returns With A Wonderfully Mature And Somber Performance

Jaane Jaan review Khan.

Image via Netflix.

Jaane Jaan also works immensely due to the high calibre actors that command every scene. Kapoor Khan’s presence is unlike any other, and she’s able to create sympathy, rage and helplessness within her character, effortlessly. Even moments that require her to be coy or duplicitous, come off so subtly and grounded, that it’s difficult to criticize any bit of this strong performance in Jaane Jaan. Ahlawat also plays the character in a way where he feels very real, and not a caricature.

Ahlawat is intense as the Teacher who is the constant source of contention in the story. He is shot like an ominous presence, with his motives constantly in question all the way until the last frame of the movie. The Teacher is scary and pitiful, without ever taking away the strong presence he has in the story and in Maya’s life. And then there’s Vijay Varma.

When a seemingly unrelated money laundering crime brings an out-of-town police officer Karan (Vijay Varma) into this small Nepali town, the story gets even more complicated. Varma is incredibly charming and very likable as the cop who’s putting the pieces together in this small-town drama. He’s extremely charismatic as he doubles down between doing his job, but also very clearly being out of his depth here. These three main leads keep Jaane Jaane from becoming a slow and dragged-out story, solely on the basis of their solid performances.

Sujoy Ghosh Ultimately Delivers, With Some Stumbles Along The Way

Jaane Jaan review couple.

Image via Netflix.

Despite the atmospheric thriller that Ghosh creates with Jaane Jaan, there are some tonal issues with the movie itself. During Karan’s introduction, the scene played out like this slick and stylish action movie, which was pretty cool. But feels completely out of place in a story that is more cerebral. But it’s in service to a much cooler third-act scene, so I can kind of forgive it.

There are also moments when the movie turns into a sweet romance, which again, I understand the reasoning, but it stuck out like a sore thumb in a movie that was anything but that, up until it was. Ultimately, they are all issues that can be overlooked, given that the majority of the film is engaging and completely captivating. Ghosh also sticks the landing of the climax in a way that’s satisfying, without digging too deep.

Jaane Jaan Review’s Verdict: Worth A Watch For The Incredible Acting And Thriller Vibes

Overall, I’ll end this Jaane Jaan review advising that it is an engaging story told with a certain skill that keeps audiences hooked from the first scene until the last. It’s engaging, and ominous and creates an intense suspenseful atmosphere that prevents it from getting bogged down with its dreary and dark tone. An absolutely worthwhile movie to watch for fans of thrillers, Ghosh’s previous success in Kahaani, and mostly for fans of Kareena Kapoor Khan, and the impeccable performances by Ahlawat and Varma.

Jaane Jaan / Suspect X is now streaming on Netflix.

What did you think of Kapoor Khan’s return to the screen? Let me know in the comments below what worked for you here and what didn’t. Or connect with me on X (Twitter) at @theshahshahid for more Bollywood discussions.

JAANE JAAN Is Sujoy Ghosh Returning To His Atmospheric Thriller Era
  • Acting - 10/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 8/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 9/10
  • Setting/Theme - 9/10
  • Watchability - 10/10
  • Rewatchability - 7.5/10
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