I had read somewhere that being in love with someone is a great thing because it makes you feel alive. Joggers’ Park (2003) confirms the statement. It is not about the Joggers’ Park situated in Bandra West, Mumbai. It is about two joggers who come to know each other by meeting there and then the life changes for both of them.There is an old Hindi movie song whose one stanza says – NA UMR KI SEEMA HO, NA JANM KA HO BANDHAN, JAB PYAR KARE KOI TO DEKHE KEWAL MANN (In love, there is no bar of age or birth as a lover sees only the heart of the beloved) . And Joggers’ Park is a beautifully told saga which underscores this saying in a highly emphatic manner.
A retired judge comes across a working girl, half his age, in the Joggers’ Park. The girl is outspoken, lovely, confident and emotional. Interaction with her leads the aged man of principles who is a stern patriarch in his family, to have the feeling of the melting of the paraffin. A whole new world of emotions, interactions and social life opens before this aged gentleman who has never happened to see anything outside the court-room, the legal files and his traditional joint family. The girl, on the other hand, too gets more and more fascinated to the mature and benevolent nice person who sometimes becomes possessive towards her like a kid. However, ultimately both come to realize that this relationship, howsoever satisfying it might be for both of them, has no future and the society will not allow it to be made public. On the girl’s side, the need of social security gets the better of her love and on the male’s side, his sense of his responsibility towards his family overpowers his deep and delicate sentiments towards the girl. But the touching last scene of the movie reminds the viewer that the thread of love cannot be broken just by the physical distance of the individuals involved.Director Late Mr. Anant Baalani (sadly passed away shortly after the release of this movie) has done a terrific job. He has handled the delicate theme of the movie with utmost maturity. Despite flaws and lean patches, the overall impact of the movie upon a sensitive viewer is nothing short of a marvel. The biggest plus point, in my opinion, of the movie is that while treating the plot, the director has lent utmost respect to the central characters. Whether or not you approve the relationship between the lead pair, you cannot help yourself respecting them. They are never short of dignity. The supporting cast has also been shown in respectful light and the story teller is very much correct in not exposing the scandalous affair and giving a different and highly mature end to the story.
The characters are purely the flesh and blood human-beings. Nobody appears to be a fake character. The human side of the two protagonists as well as the family members of the judge is revealed and emphasized with elegance. After all, loving somebody is not a sin and all emotional male-female relationships are not destined for the wedlock. But then, does this fact dilute the value of the relationship or the sentiments involved ? No ! Declares the storyteller. The relationship between the loving couple has been shown as purely platonic. They enjoy each-other’s company, they respect each-other, they care for each-other and they strive to see and listen to each-other. But! Nowhere is any element of sensuality. And that shows the director’s better sense and mature handling of a mature love story of a 65 years’ old retired judge and a 32 years’ old working girl. And the married family man of this movie cannot be given the negative and distasteful tag of an unfaithful husband also because of the platonic nature of his feelings towards the girl which arise straight from his soul. The movie contains several scenes that gently strike the chord of the instrument in the viewer, i.e., his heart. Right from the start of the movie to the very end of it, the viewer comes across many impactful sequences or events upon which he is either deeply moved or so impressed that he becomes desirous to clap.The musical score is pretty good though repeating the Adnan Saami song again and again in the background, irritates. The Usha Uthup sung title song also appears to be silly. But the Ghazal of Jagjit Singh – Badi Najuk Hai Yeh Manzil, Mohabbat Ka Safar Hai is a combined treat for the melody-lovers as well as the Shayari-lovers. The cinematography is good. The loving couple is shown standing near and staring at the sea several times in the movie which (perhaps) symbolizes the depth of their relationship. Other technical aspects are also upto the mark. The movie is lengthy but it’s not a minus point because to portray the evolution of the relationship properly, the narrator needed time. However the editor should have used his scissors wisely by removing 2-3 useless scenes and trimming the movie a bit.
Among the minus points, the biggest loophole, in my opinion, is to portray a retired judge as a big celebrity who seems to be at par with a well-known glamorous personality. A few scenes and a few characters are superfluous. The character of the leading lady’s silent lover has not been given scope to develop. The dialect used by the lead pair at certain places sounds unreal in today’s life.
The lead pair has delivered towering performances. Victor Banerjee has not done many Hindi films but he is an actor of the genre of Nasiruddin Shah, Girish Karnaad and Om Puri and since his early days of Shyam Benegal’s Kalyug in 1981, he has seldom disappointed with his performance. The kid like feeling and behaviour of Justice J.P. Chatterjee who is in his sixties, has been excellently portrayed by him, giving the relevant scenes of the movie, an utterly human look. Perizaad Zorabian is not just pretty but a highly efficient actress who has acted the sentimental but daring and confident Jennie Sooratwala so well that it is difficult to imagine any other actress in that role. Among other cast which has got cameos only, Divya Dutta as the straight-talking and mirror showing daughter and Abha Dhuliya as the completely traditional and never suspecting her husband, devoted housewife, are excellent. One special mention for Bhavna Ruparel who has played Ritika, the teen-aged grand-daughter of Victor Banerjee beautifully and added spice to the heart-touching love story of her grandfather.
Why do we use the term – falling in love? Falling itself is a negative term. In love, a person rises, not falls. Even when you are already committed, being in love with someone does not make you a sinner. After all, love just happens. It is not something deliberately attempted. The thing that constrains the expression and advancement of such feelings is called MARYAADA or the behavioural boundary-line created by the society which is associated with a person’s status in the social life. Indian culture and the Indian social set-up put family honour and social repute of an individual on top of his priority list. He (or she) has to realize ultimately that the social honour earned for oneself and one’s family by toil and efforts spread over decades, is too precious to let go for personal desires and sentiments. And love is meant for sacrifice. Isn’t it ?
See Joggers’ Park and realize yourself.
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