Why is this film 170 minutes long?
Why is this factory worker father in blue overalls wearing so much make up?
Perhaps if father and mother Parker cut down on their make up expenses they would not have to downgrade their daughter Alia’s school and could afford her school fees, right?
Why do mama and papa Parker treat their oldest child and only daughter like a slave?
Which time period is this film set in?
What is the location? It is Udaipur? Is it Austria? Is Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai set in a fictional place located on the border between the two, where it is hot at one moment and suddenly snowing in another?
Why does princely Vikram Pratap Singh’s (Ashutosh Rana) den look like (what I imagine) Toto’s Garage bar and pub (familiar to Mumbai residents) looks like with all lights on?
These were some questions that came to my mind in the first 40 minutes of watching director Keshav Panneriy’s film Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai. By the 49th minute, I had abandoned my quest for any real moments between the characters and for a semblance of logic in Amreetaa Roy’s script.
Admittedly I did question why Supriya Pathak played a Rajasthani royal handmaiden Laxmi with a Gujarati accent. But that was my last question. Thereafter I sank low into my seat and, like persecuted girl child Alia, began to accept my fate.
Suffice to say the action in Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai unfolds in some year and some place where there is a floating palace in a lake and a king who epitomises every chauvinistic male stereotype.
He has his own ‘evil’ type background music following him as he covets college student Alia (Manjari Fadnnis) and virtually buys her hand in marriage from spineless father Patrick Parker (one bottle of scotch is all it takes).
There is nothing likable about said arrogant King, and Alia continues to be a victim who, with Laxmi’s help, finally manages to escape to Mumbai with a baby girl in her belly. There’s no return to her old life. No mention again of parents, brother or lost love Alex (Himansh Kohli).
In Mumbai, Alia is mentored by a poet played by Prem Chopra who runs a gossip rag where Alia lands a job. She also finds a guardian angel in NRI millionaire-type Aditya Kapoor (Arbaaz Khan) who takes a shine to Alia.
Luck seems to be on her side at last when Alia lands a job in New York City. We see the NYC skyline with the twin towers of the World TRADE CENTER intact. Unless it’s a major faux pas, we finally have context – it’s sometime before 9/11. This is reinforced when the editor of the Manhattan Times deputes Alia to go to the Middle East and report of the state of widows of the Gulf War. The tented military camp is so cute it’s almost glamping.
The production design team of Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai has pulled out all stops and bypassed all efforts in research and realism.
Do look out for the song shot partly against a green screen, and the chroma key graphics which is like Disneyland but on a hallucinogenic drug high.
A testing film that tries to deliver messages on women’s rights, upliftment, female foeticide etc also resorts to dreadful and offensive attempts at comedy via characters such as Silly Lilly, a bimbo secretary, and an exaggeratedly effeminate waiter.
Clearly funds were not an issue for Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai since sections have been shot on location in Rajasthan and in the USA. But time and energy should have been devoted to script development, editing, directing and applying logic.
There’s only so much Faddists — who works so hard to deliver a sincere performance — and her two portly leading men, can do to distract us from all the flaws and the feeling of regret at having lost three precious hours of one’s life.