Jaanu is about a photographer who gets nostalgic after he visits his school in his hometown. During a reunion with his classmates, he meets his childhood sweetheart; it is a sad old love story without a break-up and what happens when they meet after 17 years? Will they get together? Or will they have an one nightstand? You will already know the answer to that, had you watched the original Tamil version '96. In fact, Jaanu is very similar and original to its Tamil version which makes you wonder why could the makers not have dubbed and released it in Telugu rather than recreating it? Since it’s from the same director Prem Kumar who made '96, the overall feel of the movie has been retained.
Sai Kiran Kumar who plays the younger version of Sharwanand looks a misfit. It seems like he was chosen just because he resembles Sharwanand but unfortunately he couldn’t handle the weight of the role. His expressions are flat, which brings down the intensity of the scenes. Whereas, Gouri who is reprising her role, seemed even more confident this time. Samantha has been selective with the kind of roles that she plays and she has done full justice to Jaanu's character and occasionally her cute and bubbly side comes out, which only differentiates her role from Trisha's. Sharwanand as Ram always looks serious, stiff and grumpy. He could have loosened up a little to make things lively.
One of the major issues with Jaanu is the timeframe of when the story takes place. The flashback portion happens around 2002 and in 2005-06 Ram again tries to contact Jaanu after a three-year gap. By 2005, technology had improved far better than how it was displayed in the movie. You don’t necessarily have to get a piece of paper transported to your girlfriend to announce that you are back. There are so many other ways to do it. '96 was about two adolescent kids in the late 80's who later became grown-ups and as they aren’t used to any technological distractions, it made their love more real. 80’s and 90’s are the period where you find such classical love stories and changing the timeframe to 2002 only reduces the believability factor.
Technically, Jaanu is top class, be it the songs by Govind Vasantha or the cinematography by Mahendran Jayaraj, they both deserve a pat on their backs. The songs from '96 have attainted cult status, moving away from them and coming up with fresh tunes is courageous. The visuals from Life of Ram song were breathtaking to watch. Overall, the soul of the script is intact but it still could have been a little better.
Verdict: Soul of '96 intact but has been made less believably!