Purani Jeans (“Old Jeans“) compares friendship to that pair of broken-in blue jeans in your closet that make you feel your most comfortable. However, the friendships depicted in the film are fraught with complicated emotions, as adulthood is forced upon five reluctant young men.
The Kasauli Cowboys are a quintet of early twenty-somethings who live in a picturesque mountain town. They have a clubhouse and wear matching cowboy hats. They have a list of friendship rules, one of which is, inexplicably: “Always marry a virgin.”
The quintet comprises two leaders and three peripheral members, easily distinguishable by their physical characteristics: rotund Tino (Kashyap Kapoor), scrawny Suzy (Raghav Raj Kakker), and musclebound Bobby (Param Baidwaan). Sid (Tanuj Virwani), the film’s narrator, is the poet of the group and its unofficial vice president.
Hip rich kid Sam (Aditya Seal) is the Cowboy’s acknowledged leader. He brings back cool presents and far-fetched stories of romantic conquests from his trips abroad. He has a guitar and a Jim Morrison fixation. Sid — Sam’s only true peer — is his best friend.
Even with foreign colleges and day jobs looming just over the horizon, the Cowboys seem reluctant to admit that their carefree childhood is coming to an end. They yell, “Friends forever!” in unison more often than any actual group of young men would. Their Peter Pan existence is rocked by the usual culprits: girls.
Tino and Suzy both like Roxy, the blonde exchange student. Bobby gets overly involved with Aisha. And Sid and Sam both fall for Nayantara (Izabelle Leite), the pretty new girl in town.
Sam employees still all-too-typical Bollywood hero tactics while wooing Nayantara: he carves her name into his arm with a knife and threatens to kill himself if she doesn’t accompany him. What sets Purani Jeans apart is that these tactics don’t work. Nayantara prefers Sid’s less dramatic approach. She’s so upset by Sam’s tactics that she begs Sid to tell his friend about their relationship as way of getting Sam to back off.
The film is progressive about relationship issues in other ways. There’s a crisis involving Aisha and Bobby, and the Cowboys stand by Aisha at Bobby’s expense. Sam’s actions are framed within a context of mental illness, not just attributed to boys-will-be-boys behavior.
Besides some progressive stances, Purani Jeans is a fairly predictable Bollywood coming-of-age film. There are fights and reunions, and there are way too many songs about friendship and partying. The performances are good, although everyone talks too fast. While not exactly ground-breaking, the movie nudges the genre in a more modern direction.