I was 16 summers old when Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na hit the theatres. Far away from the cliched rom-com and yet close to new-age romance, this movie came as a breath of fresh air.
But today, I would love to talk about Meghna from the movie. Brilliantly played by Manjari Phadnis, Meghna was one of the characters that went unnoticed when the movie was released.
Most of us never felt empathetic to Meghna back then. We just kept rooting for the lead characters, Jai and Aditi hoping they would unite in the end.
Like most of the people, even I rooted for the lead pair. But, recently, when I stumbled upon the same movie on OTT after years, something strange happened.
Meghna, a character who was once a crush to me was more than that, a broken woman seeking for empathy and love.
She hailed from an affluent family where she had everything but empathy and love. When she realised her father was having an extramarital affair, she couldn’t handle it, just like her mother.
She knew her father was wrong. Yet, she was helpless. She loved her father. She loved her mother.
With no shoulder to lean on to, no ears to listen, she spent all the horrific nights alone in her room listening to her parents' abuse and quarrel.
In one scene, Meghna painfully tells Jai, ‘The two people who I loved the most...were miserable. All because of me.’
She conveniently takes the blame on herself though she wasn’t the reason in the first place. Since then, she practised to stay away from reality and started imagining that her parents were really happy and in love with each other.
She gradually found solace in that world of assumptions and she had no choice but to interpret things differently.
Be it overlooking the eccentric behaviour of her alcoholic father in front of Jai, her mother’s pain hidden behind a straight face or just explaining the most common things on the street in the most magical way possible.
Meghna called this the ‘What’s this’ game and she only played it with someone close to her.
Though Jai and his friends consider it as a funny game, for Meghna, it was beyond a game.
In fact, it was a game of hide and seek. She wanted to hide the painful reality and seek a different meaning by shutting her eyes and opening it up to a world where she never belonged.
The very first glimpse of Meghna in the movie is brilliantly captured by showing us how helpless she is when teased by two good for nothing pricks.
The metaphorical introduction quickly goes unnoticed when Jai rescues Meghna from those eve-teasers and thanks to Rahman’s BGM.
This was going to be one of the most important phases of Meghna’s life. She was desperately in need of an empathetic shoulder that could lead her to solace and her prayers were answered when Jai entered her life.
Soon after both of them have an instant liking towards each other, they go on a walk and this is where Jai gets introduced to Meghna’s imagination game.
Though he wishes to spend more time with Meghna, Jai doesn’t muster the courage to ask her out but gets delighted at the very next moment when Meghna opens up by asking if he could join her for a movie tomorrow.
Just when things seem fine, Aditi gets engaged with Sushant making Jai more jealous.
Though he tries not to carry that look, things turn worse when he watches Sushant and Aditi sharing a kiss.
Throughout the movie, Jai is known to be a modern-day independent Gandhian, a feminist and a product of great parenting.
However, only when it comes to Meghna, he’s not the same Jai. He’s a different one. In fact, self-centred.
When Meghna tries to cheer him up, the all pious, the Gandhian, the non-violent Jai chides her for ignoring the reality and blames her for neglecting the friction between her parents.
Jai never loved Meghna. Even when she breaks down due to his harsh behaviour, he gives her an apathetic hug.
All he wanted was to bring her out from the world she imagined, where she assumed her parents were in love.
Had Jai been in love with Meghna, he would have tried his best to transform her life.
While Meghna is not ready to open her eyes to face the reality, Jai on the other hand tries his best to open it, thus causing Meghna more grief.
But, the most heartbreaking scene in the movie is when Jai breaks up with Meghna, leaving her alone, stealing her hope and happiness. Because Jai never loved her. He loved Aditi and it was Meghna who fell prey to his ego.
Soon after the breakup, Meghna bids him adieu with a kiss and a smile that’s perhaps more painful than tears.
Never have I felt so bad for a character and today, wherever Meghna is, I’m sure, she would be blessed with a life that’s full of happiness. Because, as a stronger woman who has gone through ups and downs, she deserved it.
- Vishal Komara