Jaane tu… ya jaane na (Whether you know or not, 2008) centres on two best friends, Jai (Imran Khan, nephew of Aamir Khan) and Aditi (Genelia D’Souza), who agree to search for one another’s soul mates while delaying their ultimate and inevitable romantic pairing. Directed and written by Abbas Tyrewala in his directorial debut, Eric Selinger (2014, 54) notes that the romantic drama was released just months after Mills & Boon opened a local office in Mumbai. The plot unfolds through flashbacks as Jai and Aditi’s romance is described by their friends Jiggy, Ravindran, Sandhya, and Shaleen to Jiggy’s crush Mala. The story is told at an airport, as the friends wait for Jai and Aditi’s arrival and return from a long honeymoon.
At the centre of their college friends, the sensitive Jai is contrasted with the impulsive and brash Aditi. The two are largely inseparable, though they imagine different romantic types as their ideal partners; Aditi tells Jai she wants a “tough stud. . . If I’d wanted a sweet boy, I’d have fallen for you”. Like Dil Chahta Hai (2001), the character development is saved until after college, when Jai and Aditi pursue relationships with other people. It is only when Jai’s girlfriend Meghna jokes that he is in love with Aditi that he realises she is right. Otherwise a pacifist because of a promise he made to his mother, Jai beats Aditi’s recent ex-boyfriend, Sushant, after discovering a bruise on her face that Sushant had caused. After Jai is arrested, he shares a cell with two antagonists from earlier in the film, who reveal that they are his cousins. They explain that for a boy to become a man in the Rathore family he must thrash another man, go to jail, and ride a horse. Released from his cell, Jai borrows their horse and rides to the international airport, where Aditi intends to board a flight to study film in New York. They reunite and Aditi remains in India.
Casual profanity, young romance, generational distinction, Hinglish, and settings in both liminal and consumer oriented spaces signal that Jaane tu… ya jaane na is intended for the urban multiplex audience, as well diasporic Indians. Selinger (2014, 53) writes that “Given its exuberant, transnational allusions . . . – to Hollywood rom-coms, Waiting for Godot, Mills & Boon novels, and more – Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na extends a particularly open invitation to the Western viewer”. In its romance narratives it is self-consciously nostalgic, recycling a love song from Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1973) as its title and refrain, and a clichéd airport climax. For Selinger (2014, 55), Jaane tu… ya janne na is “a twice-told tale that knows it’s a twice-told tale: knows – yet also potentially chafes at that knowledge, reluctant to admit or concede it.”. Mala, who makes clear she dislikes romantic narratives – “‘Made for each other’ crap” – both eventually exhibits the pleasure that the audience is expected to feel at Jai and Aditi’s union, and embodies a recognisable romance convention, where an audience anticipates the dissolution of her romantic skepticism. And while Jai is required to break his pacifist promise to win Aditi, his “meowing” at the airport (a joke about his and Aditi’s nicknames) and the ongoing dialogue between his mother and his deceased father, present a negotiated masculinity that signals the film’s awareness of romance expectations and its willingness to tease them.- Liam Grealy
– Selinger, E. M. (2014). My metatextual romance: Thinking with (and about) Jaane tu ya janne na. Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature, 47(2), 51-66.