Sujoy Ghosh’s Netflix original film “Jaane Jaan,” headlined by Bollywood royalty Kareena Kapoor Khan, has become the number one non-English film globally for the streamer.
With 8.1 million views, the Hindi-language film is also in the Top 10 in 52 countries. “Jaane Jaan” is the Indian adaptation of Japanese author Higashino Keigo’s bestselling 2005 novel “The Devotion of Suspect X.” It follows a single mother and her daughter who commit a crime and a neighbor who helps them cover it up amidst a police investigation. The cast also includes Jaideep Ahlawat (“Paatal Lok”) and Vijay Varma (“Dahaad”).
“I am so excited and thrilled to hear that the film has reached number 1 globally in the Non-English section and is currently trending in 52 countries,” Kapoor Khan told Variety. “My OTT [streaming] debut with Netflix and working on a film like ‘Jaane Jaan’ has been so rewarding. The reactions, messages from fans and audiences around the world have strengthened my belief that good stories can go everywhere. Playing Maya D’souza, having costars like Jaideep Ahlawat and Vijay Varma and being directed by Sujoy Ghosh made the experience of my first streaming debut a wonderful experience. I hope the film continues to top all the charts for many many weeks to come.”
Ghosh acquired the rights of the twisty thriller right after he made “Kahaani” (2012), another twisty thriller considered one of the best in the genre in the annals of Indian cinema.
“I was fresh off ‘Kahaani’ and I read this novel, because everybody told me this is another great ”Kahaani’-esque thriller,” Ghosh told Variety. “And honest to God, the only thing I saw in the novel was a love story. And this is a love story I always really wanted to make because for me doomed love stories are the most beautiful love stories ever, where a person has a lot of love for another person without an expectation, knowing this is never gonna happen.”
“And it was even more attractive because I just attempted that with Rana [Parambrata Chattopadhyay] and Vidya Bagchi [Vidya Balan] in ‘Kahaani,’ my first baby steps in a doomed love story,” Ghosh added. “And this [“The Devotion of Suspect X”] was such a bigger, better, massive, complicated mind-numbing, mind-fucking love story. Rana and Vidya were very simple, but this was way, like, a million more times, mature. So, I really wanted to do that.”
The novel is set in Japan and Ghosh adapted it to an Indian context, bearing in mind the local culture and social mores. While casting the lead role, the filmmaker wanted a person who exuded maternity. Kapoor Khan is a mother of two. “She has lot of experiences on her face, but yet she still possesses that beauty, which used to floor so many people when she was at her peak. So you take all these parameters, add them up and it just became equal to Kareena Kapoor Khan. QED,” Ghosh said.
“The Devotion of Suspect X” has been adapted numerous times including in Japan as “Suspect X” (2008), in Korea as “Perfect Number” (2012) and in China as “The Devotion of Suspect X” (2017). A Hollywood version is in development. In India, the plot mechanics in the first part of a popular franchise bear a remarkable resemblance to the novel. Ghosh is unfazed by the similarities.
The filmmaker provides the example of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s oft-adapted 1917 novel “Devdas.” “There have been so many versions of ‘Devdas,’ with Pramathesh Barua, Dilip Kumar and Shah Rukh Khan, then somebody does ‘Devdas’ with Amitabh Bachchan – they call it [Prakash Mehra’s 1978 film] ‘Muqaddar Ka Sikandar.’ Everybody has their own way of looking at a story, which is great, this is my way of looking at ‘The Devotion of Suspect X.’ And I’m sure it won’t stop with me. There’ll be other filmmakers who would want to adapt that same novel and bring their own touch to it. So whether it’s Agatha Christie or Edgar Allan Poe, these are timeless [works of] literature, which will carry on,” Ghosh said.
“The Devotion of Suspect X” is part of Higashino’s Detective Galileo series of novels and Ghosh is game to adapt more of them for India if Netflix is willing. Meanwhile, he is enjoying the success of “Jaane Jaan.”
“It’s very satisfying because so many people work hard to make one film. It’s not just me, I represent my 150-strong crew,” Ghosh said. “So when this kind of thing happens it is just so comforting that we have done something together and I have not let them down. They also feel they haven’t let anybody else down. It is just a nice secure feeling.”
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