JAAN-E-MANN is the directorial debut of Shirish Kundar and, if
one overlooks a few glitches, it is a terrifically entertaining film.

Framed as a love story that spans several years, the three
main characters are aspiring actor Suhaan Kapoor (portrayed by
heartthrob Salman Khan), former nerd turned handsome astronaut
Agaysta Rao (Akshay Kumar) and the woman they both love, Piya
(the stunning Preity Zinta). The storyline goes something like the
following: Suhaan and Piya were college sweethearts who later
married against her family's wishes. As his career began, Suhaan
was advised to downplay his marital status, the better to impress
the female fans. So, he opts to separate from Piya. Feeling hurt
and not wanting to stand in the way of her husband's dream, she
flees to America (where her father also has a home) and becomes
a successful interior designer with her own shop. Three years later,
Piya demands unpaid alimony. Since Suhaan's career isn't going
gangbusters, he and his advisor (Anupam Kher) come up with
a plan to marry her off and the lucky guy chosen is Agaysta who
has harbored a crush on Piya since college. Back then she used
him to cover for her relationship with Suhaan. Although he no
longer looks nerdy, he still lacks self-confidence. So Suhaan sets off
to America with him to help him win and woo Piya. Borrowing
CYRANO DE BERGERAC, but using modern technology, Agaysta
begins pursuing his dream girl. The question arises though: is
she falling for Agaysta or for Suhaan?

The film has some minor flaws which do not fully deter from
one's enjoyment. Kunder, who also wrote the screenplay, stages
some spectacular musical numbers -- some of the best seen in
recent years. The musical score by Anu Malik is lovely and enjoyable.

The actors do strong work. Khan and Kumar have played romantic
rivals before in
MUJHSE SHAADI KAROGI and they carry over some of
that chemistry and tension in this film. As in most of his movies,
Khan gets to exhibit his muscular physique (there's the requisite scene
where he tears open his shirt), but he also proves that he's more
than just a hunk with a strong performance that runs the gamut from
comedy to drama. Kumar matches him every inch of the way, and this
is another film where the audience is torn over for whom to root. Both
men appear to be suitable matches for Piya. Kumar and Zinta had also
previously acted together in
SANGHARSH, the Bollywood version of
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. JAAN-E-MANN is better suited to the
pair's talents, allowing them to explore a lighter, softer side.

My quibble is over the character portrayed by Anupam Kher
(whom American audiences may recognize from
BRIDE & PREJUDICE). Was it really necessary to have him portray
a dwarf? It was clear that the actor was forced to perform on his knees
and his difficulties getting around in scenes was palpable. Kher
created an amusing character that lent some humor to his scenes,
but the technical difficulties marred his performance.

Otherwise, I enjoyed
JAAN-E-MANN and would recommend it.

        Rating:                B
        Running time:       150 mins.

        Viewed at The ImaginAsian Theater, NYC
©  2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.