Eros International and Sohail Khan Productionz’s Jai Ho (UA) is the story of one man’s endeavour to make this world a better place to live in, and the obstacles which he has to overcome. Jai Agnihotri (Salman Khan), a very daring and upright army officer, is suspended for disobeying his senior’s orders. A noble soul, he is pained by the sufferings he sees around himself and is always ready to help people. Jai is shaken when a handicapped girl (Genelia Deshmukh) he had helped one day, by writing her examination paper, commits suicide right in front of his eyes. The girl was unable to appear for another exam because nobody had come forward to write for her when her brother (Vikas Bhalla) was stuck in a traffic jam caused by the motorcade of the home minister, Dashrath Singh’s (Danny Denzongpa) vain daughter, Kavita Singh Patil (Sana Khan). The home minister gets the brother killed when he files a case against his (home minister’s) daughter, holding her responsible for his sister’s suicide. One day, Jai helps a family in distress and when the family thanks him, he asks them not to thank him but instead, to pay the good deed forward by helping three needy persons and asking each of the three persons to help three more persons. Unknown to Jai, this system of paying a good deed forward becomes a movement which touches the lives of thousands of people. Simultaneously, Jai falls in love with Rinky (Daisy Shah) who is the neighbour of his sister, Geeta (Tabu). Jai’s mother (Nadira Babbar) is cross with Geeta for marrying outside their community and although Jai visits his sister’s marital home, the mother does not speak with Geeta and her husband, Rehan (Mahesh Thakur). Geeta and Rehan have a son, Kabir (master Naman Jain), who is close to Jai and his maternal grandmother. With Jai’s helping nature and no-nonsense attitude, it is not long before he invites the wrath of the home minister’s family when he beats up the minister’s son-in-law (Mukul Dev). Jai’s anger knows no bounds when he gets to know that the handicapped girl’s brother had been killed at the behest of the home minister. Chief minister Ashok Pradhan (Mohnish Bahl) tries to get the home minister and Jai to settle matters amicably but the wily and over-ambitious home minister has an evil plan in his mind which will eliminate both, the chief minister as well as Jai. What is that devious plan? Does the home minister succeed in carrying it out? Or does Jai outwit him? Does the chief minister realise that Jai is a good man? Do members of the public believe the home minister when he announces on national television that Jai is a terrorist or do they believe Jai’s sister, Geeta, who tries to clear his name, again on national television?
The film is a remake of the Telugu film, Stalin, which itself was inspired by the Hollywood film, Pay It Forward. A.R. Murugadoss’ story is interesting and potentially very potent. However, Dilip Shukla’s screenplay is disjointed. The first half, especially, looks like the piecing together of scenes without cohesiveness. While watching the pre-interval portion, the audience realises that a lot of scenes have simply been forced into it as they would likely have relevance in the second half and more particularly, in the climax. And that is exactly what happens. Also, there are so many characters that several of them aren’t even established properly. Because there are too many characters, the drama looks hurried and appears to be racing ahead at undue speed. For instance, the handicapped girl’s suicide looks unjustified because it is not clear whether the exam paper she couldn’t appear for was so important that her life would now be ruined. Since her suicide has not been completely justified, the audience somewhere does not completely sympathise with her because it doesn’t feel, she needed to end her life.
Another drawback of the screenplay is that the movement of the good deed act has not been intelligently established. In other words, the build-up to the movement is not very effective. The movement is the film’s mainstay and should have been very wonderfully established so as to move the audience emotionally in the climax.
On the positive side, however, there are some light and some dramatic scenes which are excellent. The scene of Kabir innocently explaining to Jai why Rinki calls him Chhota Chuha, the toilet scene of Rinki and the little girl and the scene outside the toilet; the scenes of Kabir and Rinki, when the former addresses her as Pinky; the scene of Jai meeting Rinki’s mother for the first time; the scene where Jai beats up the hoodlums of the home minister’s son-in-law in the mall; the confrontation scene of Jai and Geeta with home minister Dashrath Sing; the chief minister’s ambulance scene; the scene in which the army tank is brought out on the road to aid Jai; and the climax. In fact, the last 20-25 minutes of the film are very captivating. The action and the stunts will thrill the masses which will break into huge rounds of applause on seeing Salman Khan perform them.
Dilip Shukla’s dialogues should have been far better and punch-packed, at least in the dramatic scenes. His comic dialogues, however, are really nice.
Salman Khan looks like a million bucks and plays to the gallery. He acts with effortless ease and will drive his fans crazy with his action, stunts and physique as also with his facial expressions in the action scenes. The scene in which Salman takes off his shirt will bring the house down. Daisy Shah is easy in front of the camera and although she lacks glamour, she does well in her maiden Hindi film. She dances gracefully. Tabu leaves a mark with her restrained performance. But she looks tired. Danny Denzongpa is suave and stylish as the evil home minister and stands out with his wonderful act. Master Naman Jain is extraordinary and deserves distinction marks for his free acting. Nadira Babbar evokes laughter at several places. Mahesh Thakur is okay. Resham Tipnis is very effective as Rinki’s mother. Ashmit Patel and Yash Tonk are okay. Aditya Pancholi and Sharad Kapoor get very limited scope as the corrupt police officers. Pulkit Samrat is alright as the principled police officer. He looks very handsome. Genelia Deshmukh is natural to the core. Sana Khan is fair. Mukul Dev makes his presence felt. Santosh Shukla makes a fairly good debut as the goon, Manik. His facial expressions are nice. Bruna Abdullah is so-so and Vikas Bhalla is alright. Sunil Shetty lends star value in the climax. Haroon Qazi does not get too much scope as the home minister’s son but he has screen presence. Mohnish Bahl has his moments as chief minister Ashok Pradhan. Mahesh Manjrekar is good. Sameer Khakhar deserves special mention. Tulip Joshi, Varun Badola, Vatsal Seth lend fair support. Nauheed Cyrusi is earnest. Sudesh Lahiri’s comedy is entertaining.
Sohail Khan’s direction is good in parts. While he has handled the mass-appealing action scenes with aplomb, his direction in the dramatic scenes could have been better. Music (Sajid-Wajid, Devi Sri Prasad and Amal Malik) is a letdown. Although, the ‘Photocopy’ song (composed by Sajid-Wajid) is the best and ‘Baaki sab first class hai’ and ‘Tere naina’ (also by Sajid-Wajid) are fairly nice, the others are ordinary. Also, there is not even a single hit or super-hit song, something which the audience has come to expect in a Salman starrer. Lyrics (Sameer Anjaan, Kausar Munir, Sajid, Irfan Kamal, Danish Sabri and Armaan Malik) are okay. The picturisations of the songs (choreographed by Remo D’Souza, Radhika Rao and Vinay Sapru, Shaikh Jani Basha, Mudassar Khan and Shabina Khan), especially the ‘Photocopy’ and the ‘Baaki sab first class hai’ songs are eye-pleasing. Sandeep Shirodkar’s background music is good. Action and stunts (Anl Arasukumar, K. Ravi Varma and Dave Judge) have been excellently choreographed. The action scenes will have the masses in the cinema halls screaming with delight. Santosh Thundiyil’s camerawork is brilliant. Sabu Cyril’s sets could have been richer and better. Ashish Amrute’s editing leaves something to be desired.
On the whole, Jai Ho is not a well-scripted film but Salman Khan proves that he is bigger than the script. Salman and his action make this film an entertaining fare for the single-screen cinema audiences and the masses but the response from the multiplex-frequenting audiences will be mixed. Worldwide distributors Eros have paid a fortune for the India and Overseas theatrical distribution rights and they may just about break even but the distributors of the individual circuits, who have acquired the distribution rights from Eros at crazy prices, may not prove equally lucky. As for the producers, they’ve made an unimaginably high profit on the table by recovering a fortune from Eros and from sale of satellite rights, audio rights as also from in-film placements.