What I found fascinating about debutant Chidambaram’s movie Jan-e-Man is that the margin for error is extremely thin for this film. The plot of the movie has two extremes that have a stark contrast. But the way it culminates made me admire the writing of this film. Chidambaram takes this plot that feels like a mixture of all genres and ultimately creates a heartwarming story. With some outrageously hilarious twists in the tale, Jan-e-Man has got its heart in the right place.
Joymon is the central character of the movie. He was that nerdy, studious guy in school, and he is now living a terribly lonely life in Canada as a nurse. On the verge of depression, he decides to come back to India just to celebrate his birthday. He asks his classmate Faizal to arrange the birthday party. Faizal decides to set up a party on another friend, Sambath’s home’s rooftop. On the same day of Joymon’s arrival, Sambath’s neighbor dies. The tension builds in the atmosphere because Joymon decides to proceed with the birthday celebrations. What happens eventually is what we witness in Jan-e-Man.
As I said, the contrast between the two tracks happening in the movie is very extreme. On one side we have this eccentric Joymon who has invited all his school friends for his birthday. Sambath and family are clueless about the situation, and we get to experience this vintage Priyadarshan-type humor in that track. The other track has a broken family. The equation between Itti Avara, the man who died, and his children wasn’t that smooth. And his untimely demise resulted in these siblings’ meeting. We can easily guess that there will be a major tussle between the two houses at one point because of the insensitive behavior. But what is surprising here is the timing of that event.
As a writer, Chidamabaram knows the precise moment where the audience would love to see a shift in the pitch of the narration. The firecracker scene in the film comes when you are totally not expecting something like that to happen. And the editing by Kirandas, which shuttles between a particular emotional track on both sides, also helps Jan-e-Man achieve that hilarious outcome at the end of that scene. There was an interesting sequence in the film where Joymon and Monichan are conversing, and a seemingly funny scene slowly became a beautiful conversation between two lonely people. And there is this scene where the uncle character played by Lal gives another dimension to an instance that Monichan felt was an insult to his dead father. There are these tiny little emotional surprises in this movie that make it unpredictable in a pleasant way.
We have seen Basil Joseph being this character actor mostly in humorous roles. Here also, Joymon is mainly on the funny side. But Chidambaram offers the character scenes to express the inner thoughts, and Basil was terrific in those moments. Lal delivers a great performance as the sobbing brother of Itti Avara. Arjun Ashokan and Ganapathi were good as Sambath and Faizal. Balu Varghese gets a meaty role in the film as Monichan. Gilu Joseph and Riya Saira were also memorable. A special mention to Sarath Sabha, who as that Palakkadan goon offered some unforgettable laugh-out-loud moments. Abhiram Pothuval, as the event management guy, was super funny. That character added a layer of satire to this perfect mixture.
Jan-e-Man is a brilliant amalgamation of genres. This film has slapstick humor, black humor, satiric humor, and drama Jan-e-Man ultimately works as a feel-good comedy. From occasional lengthy single-take shots to cross-cutting of scenes, the movie keeps you hooked on to its content without making the tone difference in the two tracks a jarring one. With all those well-etched characters and some terrific performances, Jan-e-Man is that feel-good comedy that doesn’t follow any template.
With all those well-etched characters and some terrific performances, Jan-e-Man is that feel-good comedy that doesn't follow any template.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended