In 2002 former assistant to Mani Ratnam, Shaad Ali was handed the reigns of the Hindi remake of the Tamil director’s hit film Alaipayuthey. The result was the Saathiya, a respectable version by a first-time director. Now Ali has helmed the Hindi remake of Ratnam’s romance Oh Kadhal Kanmani (aka OK Kanmani) and the result is strictly OK. Ratnam’s 2015 film was his ode to Mumbai city through the eyes of two young and in love professionals who had made Mumbai home. The original was sweet, heartwarming and came alive with A R Rahman’s music.
But the biggest plus point of OK Kanmani was the cast: Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen as the young couple in a modern, no-strings-attached relationship, and Prakash Raj and Leela Samson as the older couple in the twilight of their years.
In Ali’s version the younger couple is played by Aditya Roy Kapur and Shraddha Kapoor. Adi (Roy Kapur) designs video games and has ambitions of relocating to America and becoming the biggest thing in technology. Tara (Kapoor) is an architect who wants to pursue her higher studies in Paris. But they don’t let their diverging long-term plans derail their short term love story.
After a first encounter at a station they have a chance meet-cute during a church wedding. They realise both have similar views on marriage – which is that it is avoidable. A short courtship and they move in together. But it’s not easy persuading Adi’s landlord Shrivastava (Naseeruddin Shah) that he should endorse this arrangement of living in sin. But Tara’s succeeds in endearing herself to Gopi Shrivastava’s unwell wife Charu (Leela Samson) and before you know it she is moving in, pet goldfish and all.
The older landlord and landlady serve as a crystal ball for Adi and Tara who see the possibilities of companionship and marriage through their world, as a devoted husband cares for his lifelong love. But Ali has managed to suck out the humanity and tenderness from the older couple, partly because the scenes between them have been trimmed.
Adi and Tara are unsuccessful in hiding their relationship from their respective families and both sides express their reservations. Ok Jaanu follows the screenplay of the original Ratnam work closely, yet it barely touches the charm, magic and endearment of its inspiration. Salmaan and Menen had great chemistry and infused youthful energy into the film. Shraddha Kapoor tries to make Tara her own, but is lumbered with an uncharismatic sparring partner. Aditya Roy Kapur brings nothing fresh to Adi. He has one style – which involves a jerky head movement and discharges dialogues.
Ratnam’s script was an older writer’s attempt to be relevant to a younger audience. It’s clunky in parts but worked because Salmaan and Menen pulled it off, which Kapoor and Roy Kapur are unable to. You can remake a film, but you cannot copy-paste magic.