Star cast: Tanuj Virwani, Aditya Seal, Izabelle Leite, Param Baidwaan, Raghav Raj Kakkar, Kashyap Kapoor, Sarika, Rati Agnihotri, Rajit Kapoor, Manoj Pahwa
Director : Tanushri Chattrji Bassu
I went into Purani Jeans expecting nothing, and was rewarded by a film that kept me with it. The storyline is solid even if not terribly new. It has believable characters, and an arc that moves and is moving.
Anyone who has grown up with a gang of inseparables will instantly connect with these Kasauli Cowboys. Sid (Tanuj Virwani) is a fatherless boy whose mom (Rati Agnihotri, also his mother in real life) has set her heart on his going to the US. Sam (Aditya Seal) is a khandaani raees and has an alcoholic mother (Sarika) who lives unhappily with her second husband (Kapoor). The other three, Bobby, Suzy and Tino (Baidwan, Kakkar and Kathuria respectively) make up the group. Sid and Sam have known each other since they were five, and are the kind of friends of that are constantly out of each others houses, know each others secrets. Trouble begins, as it does usually, with a girl. Pretty Nayantara (Izabelle Leite) arrives in town and catches the boys attention. Love strikes and things change forever.
I have a couple of quibbles. The guys all look just a tad older than they should: this is a gang thats giving entrance exams for higher studies, so presumably school and college-leaving is behind them. But this story of first love and heartbreak feels like it belongs to adolescents, and adolescents have a gawkiness and gangliness thats unmistakable. These boys have gone past it. Also, some of the plot points are predictable: you know, for example, how one of the main characters will end up, right from when he shows up. A few times, the drama threatens to get exaggerated. But Purani Jeans, despite its we- know-where- this- coming-of-age arc is going, gets a lot else right.
The film is set in the 90s, and much of the film is spent looking back, but the nostalgia never becomes mawkish. It opens with Sid in New York, where he has been for a dozen years. Circumstances compel a return to Manali, and the flashback takes us to when the gang was young and carefree. Livewire Sam organises the parties and the fun times, and song and dance follows. But again, it is kept in check: its a bunch of best friends goofing around, not synthetic dancers doing rubberized moves. Its all very boys-bonding-over-beer-and-other-things, and the perspective is a young guys: those looking for a girls point-of-view, this is not that film.
Most times, it is the rhythm of the young, how they speak, dress and inhabit space which Bollywood gets wrong. Purani Jeans is bang on in this crucial aspect: the conversations flow and feel real. The girl, acting wise, is a weak link, but comes off pleasant enough, and thats all she needs to be. Aditya Seal as the poor little rich boy who has everything but love, does a good job. Virwani is bland, but gets the quieter, more earnest vibe. The other three are welldefined: one of them does something wrong and leaves town. The rest scatter, and only when Sid returns year later, in a very Summer of 42′ touch, things come together.
I enjoyed Purani Jeans for its freshness in the face of familiarity, and a story that holds all the way to the end.
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