STORY Gambler Arjun Dixit (Emraan Hashmi) moves from one gaming table to another with his buddy (Vishal Malhotra). However, since they usually lose their bet, they are in debt to the moneylenders. In an emergency, Arjun bets everything on a cricket bet: He wins and, thanks to his sporting “sixth sense,” rises ever higher in the rank of betting kings. But the police are soon on his heels, and his beloved friend Zoya (Sonal Chauhan) is also becoming increasingly concerned. As a result, the relationship begins to falter.
REVIEW Yawn. Anyone hoping for a snazzy Bollywood thriller with gambling, romance, and suspense is completely wrong here. “Jannat” is a slouchy drama that doesn’t make much of its gambling theme, instead contenting itself with being a commune Emran Hashmi vehicle. The actor once again embodies his standard role as an oh-so-poor man with dog eyes who gets caught up in the intricacies of the underworld and falls in love with a beautiful woman along the way. You feel like you’ve seen this a dozen times. And even better.
It is particularly disappointing how debut director Kunal Deshmukh is satisfied with Bhatt’s mediocrity. Producer Mukesh Bhatt and his henchmen have recently only been concerned with making reasonably realistic, halfway dark, and melancholic love thrillers with solid visuals, often with Hashmi in the leading role. They dare nothing; they bring little. If a gangster peeks out from time to time, you can consider yourself lucky – and even he is slightly overestimated. But “Jannat” waters that formula down to nothing. There is hardly anything that really grabs you in the overly long film.
The love story that should be so central doesn’t work from the start. Arjun sees his queen of hearts, does something stupid, and bang; they’re a couple. Simply that way. It then continues in a similarly unmotivated manner. A man does bad things, a woman is sad, a man shouts back and promises to get better, and a man slips back into the demimonde. Wake me up when it’s over. That already says that the thriller part is of little use. There is no tension when Emran shakes his predictions out of the blue. Everything in “Jannat” happens so randomly and casually.
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At least the story isn’t stolen. The thriller drama ” Two For The Money” with Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey covers a similar area but fixates much more excessively on the bets and their processes – which is only a marginal topic here. Even composer Pritam doesn’t seem to steal too much for once, but that doesn’t make his songs any better. They belong to the typical soft rock wave, pleasing to the ear but quickly forgotten – what Rediff so beautifully calls “whoa-whoa-whoa songs.” It’s correct. There are plenty of refrains in which these syllables are intoned; listen to “Zaara Sa,” for example.
What remains? A disappointingly empty and, above all, dull film. With dog eyes and curly hair, Emran Hashmi does his best not to drown, but his charm doesn’t keep the story alive. Newcomer Sonal Chauhan looks good, but because her love story is so random, she can’t really shine. At the latest in the film’s second half, she becomes interchangeable, and in the finale, she’s actually really bad (“you bastards!”). On the other hand, acting in a supporting role saved Sheikh and Vishal Malhotra solid. Add to those nice songs, unimaginative image design, and schematic dialogues, and you have a test-tube film without ambitions that hides under a melancholic atmosphere. How “Jannat” was nevertheless able to become one of the most lucrative films of 2008 remains one of the great Bollywood mysteries of this year for me personally.
SONGS There is no music criticism because the songs in the DVD menu, on the DVD sleeve, and on the CD have different names three times, and I couldn’t clear up the confusion. They’re all not much more than nice, anyway. Typical Pritam ballads.