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Janaki Jaane review: Navya Nair, Saiju Kurup shine in Aniesh Upaasana’s well-written, tightly-knit movie

The humour in Navya Nair, Saiju Kurup-starrer Janaki Jaane also diffuses the tension and keeps the narrative engaging


Last Updated: 05.04 PM, May 12, 2023


Story: Janaki is terrified of the dark and being alone. In fact, one of her demands when sub-contractor Unni Mukundan approaches her with a wedding proposal is that they have to stay at her home, till she acclimatises with the changes. Things, however, take a turn when an unexpected incident, triggered by Janaki’s fear of the dark, is used for political gains. How will Janaki and Unni confront this?

Review: Last year, Navya Nair made her comeback to Malayalam in Oruthee, playing an ordinary woman, who refuses to give up and defies all odds to bring people more powerful than her to their knees. The movie didn’t quite receive the appreciation it should have, probably because of its genre and a tempered pace of a slow-burn thriller. In director Aniesh Upaasana’s Janaki Jaane, the actress essays the role of a soft-spoken and demure woman, who has her set of phobias, preventing her from living her life like the majority.

Saiju Kurup and Navya Nair in Janaki Jaane
Saiju Kurup and Navya Nair in Janaki Jaane

The filmmaker has fashioned the movie as a family entertainer and yet the script is so well written and tightly knit that the underlying layers burst through, even in the most ordinary of scenes. The highlight is how Navya’s character of Janaki is performed and picturised. The actress keeps it subtle, every time she reacts to the elements causing her panic and yet you feel empathetic towards her. This is heightened by how Saiju Kurup’s character of Unni Mukundan is conceived too; he is dealing with his own issues, and yet is supportive and mostly sensitive to Janaki’s predicament. These factors make it easy to connect to both the characters.

The movie, which is tightly edited, has no unnecessary flab. Every scene and character progress the plot as well as encapsulates the emotions of the protagonists as well as those around them. The humour in Janaki Jaane also diffuses the tension at peak moments, and keeps the narrative engaging. There are some delightful cameos by Sharafudheen and Anarkali Marikar, whose characters help in bringing about the transformation in Janaki. What they state might be obvious, but it’s written and performed in a moving manner. Even in the climax portion, where Janaki’s transformation is complete, Aniesh manages to pull off a brilliant sequence without a word being spoken by the titular character. Navya’s confident presence symbolises her response.

Navya Nair and Saiju Kurup in Janaki Jaane
Navya Nair and Saiju Kurup in Janaki Jaane

Janaki Jaane also benefits from its supporting cast – be it Sminu Sijo as the troublemaker aunt, Johny Antony as the confidant or Kottayam Nazeer and George Kora as the antagonizing and rookie politicians, respectively. But what works most is the performances of its lead duo – Navya and Saiju. Janaki’s portrayal is probably among the best in Navya’s career, as she balances it with humour, vulnerability and a courage that shine through in the last scene. Saiju’s conversations with his employee named Shafi, add to the film’s humour.


That said, Janaki Jaane is also a social drama, in terms of how a woman, who fears to speak up, is victimised and used for political gains, how truth can be manipulated and its consequence borne by the innocent. But what makes the film appealing is how Aniesh has managed to package it as a movie that appeals to majority of the audience. Kailas and Sibi Mathew Alex’s music as well as Syamaprakash MS’ frames make this a breezy watch, despite its inherent message and story.

Verdict: Navya Nair and Saiju Kurup’s Janaki Jaane is a gem in terms of how its makers have told the story, making it appealing to all sections of the audience. Don’t let its simple, feel-good flavour fool you, it will definitely move you and also make you think.


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