Jaane Jaan: Is There a Real-Life Inspiration Behind the Netflix Film?

Alternatively known as ‘Suspect X,’ ‘Jaane Jaan,’ Netflix’s mystery drama Hindi film charts the thrilling narrative of a murder investigation where the only suspect is a single mother with a suspiciously air-tight alibi. After running away from a previous life, Maya D’Souza settles in Kalimpong with her thirteen-year-old daughter, Tara. Still, Maya’s past revisits her in the form of her abusive husband, Ajit, resulting in a murder investigation headed by the charming but persistent officer, Karan Anand. As the police look into Maya, she finds unexpected help from her next-door neighbor, Naren Vyas, a genius mathematics teacher.

The film, staged as the perfect murder mystery, tells a story about love and the lengths people are willing to go for it. Simultaneously, the riveting plot keeps the genre’s suspenseful charm alive and delivers an entertaining story that will leave audiences impressed. Therefore, given the criminal investigation that dominates the film’s plot, viewers must be curious to know more about the story’s origin.

Jaane Jaan is Based on a Crime Novel

The film is a Bollywood adaptation of the 2005 crime-fiction novel, ‘The Devotion of Suspect X,’ by Keigo Higashino with Alexander O. Smith, essaying the English translation. As the third installment in the Detective Galileo series, the book remains one of Higashino’s most revered books, widely acclaimed by critics in literary circles. A year after its release, ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’ received one of the most prestigious Japanese literary awards, the Naoki Prize, and went on to score nominations for the Barry and Edgar Awards.

As such, considering the story’s popularity among the general public, ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’ has seen multiple on-screen adaptations across languages. Some of the iterations include the eponymously named Chinese film, the Korean film, ‘Perfect Number,’ and Japan’s own cinematic version simply titled ‘Suspect X.’ Consequently, Director Sujoy Ghosh’s Kareena Kapoor Khan starrer, ‘Jaane Jaan’ feels like an inevitable progression for the story.

When Ghosh first picked up the novel, he had heard incredible things about the story, particularly its thrilling murder mystery aspect— a genre already associated with the filmmaker due to his 2012 critically acclaimed film, ‘Kahaani.’ However, much to Ghosh’s surprise, ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’ had something drastically different to offer him.

“[But] When I was reading the book, it was all about love. I couldn’t see anything beyond love,” Ghosh revealed in an interview with Bollywood Hungama. “And so I thought, great man, here’s a book— more than a book, a story— where essentially it’s supposed to be a murder mystery, but I’m only seeing love in it. So, there must be something amazingly good about the writing, which is making people see so many layers in a given story. And from then, I really wanted to make the film.”

Therefore, by highlighting the underlying tale of love and affection, Ghosh was able to craft a relatable story while maintaining the book’s characteristically intriguing and suspenseful plot. In his journey to adapt the story within an Indian setting, Ghosh wrote the screenplay alongside Raj Vasant. Having previously collaborated on the 2019 project, ‘Badla,’ the screenwriting duo must have already had a rapport built that helped them shape ‘Jaane Jaan’ into its final form.

Ultimately, Bollywood’s take on Higashino’s modern classic presents a compelling adaptation but still diverts from the original story in some key ways. For instance, Manabu Yukawa, the namesake for the Detective Galileo series, fails to appear in ‘Jaane Jaan’ as a distinct character and instead becomes incorporated into another character, Detective Shunpei Kusanagi. This mashup results in Vijay Varma’s character, Karan Anand.

Furthermore, the film takes a slightly different approach to its ending. Still, the change is minor and works in favor of the character arcs built up throughout the story. As such, for the most part, ‘Jaane Jaan’ presents an authentic adaptation of its source material, ‘The Devotion of Suspect X.’

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