Movie Review 'Purani Jeans': Faded, shabby and to be discarded

Published May 3, 2014, 3:20 am IST
Updated Apr 1, 2019, 10:32 am IST
The stench of been here, seen this is very strong in Tanushri Chatterji Bassu's debut film
Cast: Tanuj Virwani, Aditya Seal, Izabelle Leite, Sarika, Rati Agnihotri, Manoj Pahwa, Rajit Kapoor, Paran Baidwaan, Kashyap Kapoor
Direction: Tanushri Chatterji Bassu
Rating: *1/2
Really? A film called Purani Jeans? Is the title borrowed from the radio show of the same name, or is it that purani jeans, those stiff, tight, teenage items most of us keep in some corner of our cupboard as pathetic mementoes of our pert butts and libidinous potential/history, has now become a metaphor? Doesn’t matter. Whatever the reason, it’s still a stupid title of a film that fully deserves it.
Tanushri Chatterji Bassu who has in the past directed television ads has ventured into films. She’s written this film’s story, dialogue and directed it. The listlessness then is evenly spread. There’s a certain decrepit feel to almost every scene, interaction and character that’s not easy to accomplish when you have young boys fist-bumping each other. Yet it’s strong, this stench of been here, seen this. 
So tell me, have you seen this before? A group of five boys in Kasauli call themselves Kasauli Cowboys. Individually they are called Sam, Sid, Suzie, Bobby and Teenu. They don’t do much together except hang, chill and talk of what life will be like when they start attracting girls and can afford booze. Of this group of five, Sid (Tanuj Virwani, son of Rati Agnihotri) and Sam (Aditya Seal) are very close. Sam is a rich kid from a completely dysfunctional, quasi-royal family. And because his own mother (played brilliantly by Sarika) is either too drunk, too sad about Sam’s dad who left her, or too preoccupied with her current, cheating husband, he seeks special moments with Sid’s mother (played by Rati Agnihotri). Sam and Sid propel the story forward while the other three, who seem far more interesting, remain marginal people.   
A gorgeous girl, Nayantara (Izabelle Leite), arrives in Kasauli on holiday and a triangle forms. For a while we don’t know which boy she likes till she makes it known to one, but not the other. The chosen one also doesn’t tell his BFF that, dude, I’m gonna sleep with this girl. That poor soul has to find them sleeping nangu-pangu to figure. That too on the same night when there’s much drama in his own castle-like house. No wonder he gets into a jeeps and takes off. This is the moment in which the chosen one is still stuck, thinking he betrayed his friend. 
This entire purani story comes to us as flashback as the sulky grown-up travels to Kasauli from foreign land, with his mother’s ashes. 
Apart from all this the other important factoids you need to know is that when all this happened, in 1996, rich Sam was on his college holidays, college being Cambridge; Sam was preparing to go to MIT, America; and Bobby was being a jerk with his girlfriend who, incidentally, was Nayantara’s little sister. 
Sam wanted to be a musician, Jim Morrison style. So he had a guitar, posters of Jim bhai, and a sad childhood he could channel when required. But unlike Morrison, he didn’t write his songs. He sang songs that Sid would scribble in his diary. Sid wanted to be a writer, and eventually gets this story published.  
Purani Jeans has mild potential, especially the other three boys -- played very nicely by Param Baidwaan, Raghav Raj Kakker and Kashyap Kapoor. Aditya Seal, who played the peeping Tom in Ek Choti Si Love Story, isn’t bad either. But apart from a few, stray funny remarks, all of them have been handed artificial dialogue and inhabit trite, template-characters. 
The only real spark in the film comes from Sarika who plays the drunk mom very convincing. She is lovely, but has very few scenes. We spend way too much time with Sid and Nayantara. Tanuj Virwani is so awkward, so shrinking that it seems he’s been dragged to the sets by his mother. Beauteous Izabelle Leite is so stiff and bumbling here that I had to double-check whether she was the one who played the cynical, bitchy Anu in last year’s 16. She did! 
If you haven’t seen 16, I suggest you dump this film and get a DVD of that one.