Call it Suspect X (Japanese film, 2008), Perfect Number (Korean film 2012, The Devotion of Suspect X (Chinese film 2017) or Jaane Jaan (indian film on Netflix 2023), Keigo Higashino’s novel Yogisha Ekkusu no Kenshin has fascinated the world of murder mysteries ever since it was published. I must admit that I have not seen the Japanese film, but having seen the other three it makes me want to explore more of the writer’s works. His Detective Kaga and Detective Galileo series of books are available for us to read today. The author’s fascination for human values like loyalty is the basis of this film (and this article).
Sujoy Ghosh’s Jaane Jaan on Netflix is a brilliant debut for Kareena Kapoor on the OTT platform and it has been reported that she has been wanting to act in a show like Kate Winslet did in Mare of Easttown. Kareena plays Maya D’Souza who lives in Kalimpong with her daughter Tara. Unbeknownst to her she is being stalked by her neighbour, the shy but brilliant high school Maths teacher Naren. Naren (played by the brilliant Jaideep Ahlawat) is not a good looking man, and tongue tied in front of Kareena’s limpid presence. He just visits the coffee shop, buys the same fried rice for his lunch and leaves. When a scary man threatens Maya in her home, and she kills him, Naren helps the mother daughter duo. When a detective from Mumbai shows up in search of the scary man, it is Naren who helps divert his attention.
Lesson 1: ‘I want readers to be continuously surprised by my ideas,’ Author Keigo Higashino
The story of Jaane Jaan explores the mind of a Math teacher who lives a quiet life. He knows that mathematics is a subject that is ruled by logic and solving complex problems is his passion. His fascination for Kareena Kapoor and her daughter is illogical and he knows it too. In Maths, the numbers are always perfect. Two plus two will always be four. Then how does he compute his feelings that overwhelm him?
Most of our investment lives are predictable. We like the surety of Fixed Deposits and savings accounts in banks our fathers banked with. When a new bank that offers a better interest on your savings shows up, do we even try to switch accounts? Do we try to step into the world of Mutual Funds or other financial instruments that are being offered? The solution is there. There is information and more that can make your money work harder. You just need to want to step out of your carefully cultivated ordinary world and choose to be different. You too will be pleasantly surprised at the result.
Lesson 2: ‘Pay attention to the coin’ Naren tells his student, playing a disappearing coin game
A student challenges his maths teacher to a coin game every day. Naren indulges the kids who watch fascinatedly as the challenger loses the game with the coin every day. Naren’s hands holding the coin are just too fast for the kid. Naren playfully (and even irritated at the child’s persistent loss) suggests that he pay attention to the coin, or he’ll never win.
The stock market is like that. Not on an everyday basis, of course, but if you are investing in shares, you had better be informed. Not just about how the company you have invested in is doing, but the industry as a whole. As the cops are wont to say, ‘Follow the money, and you’ll find the crime.’
Lesson 3: ‘Who keeps cinema tickets?’ Kareena’s Maya needs to prove her whereabouts
The mumbai detective Karan (played by Vijay Verma) who has arrived in Kalimpong in search of a missing crooked cop Ajit (played brilliantly by Saurabh Sachdeva). He has figured out that Maya D’Souza is the wife who has been running away from Ajit. Karan questions Maya, and her answer makes him believe that she went to the movie with her daughter even though Tara has school the next morning. Eventually Maya finds the movie tickets tucked away in her clothes and hands them to the detective.
In our money life, we must save all our receipts. Most of us do this online, so we have less of a hassle of looking for them when it is time to compute our taxes. It becomes even more important if you are trading stocks. You need to maintain a record of all your transactions because receipts always come in handy.
Lesson 4: ‘He was feeding us clues and we were being sidetracked by them’
Detective Karan and Teacher Naren have been in high school together. The Chinese film ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’ shows the connection brilliantly. Introvert Naren solves Maths puzzles during the break instead of playing. In Jaane Jaan, detective Karan learns how he’s been played by the maths Teacher by a seemingly innocent numerical question that is asked of the students like: If there are ten birds on a tree and I shoot one, how many birds would be sitting on the tree? The logical answer is nine. But when you think about it, the answer is none. Won’t the rest of the birds fly away at the sound of the gunshot?
Financial offerings are just like the problem the detective is facing. Each clue fed to the detective is like the ads you will see about different schemes of investment. Some have movie stars, other offers like home loans will show you homes that may be beyond your budget or located impractically. You need to learn to see through the shine and the flash of the offers and make a rational logical decision.
Lesson 5: ‘Feelings of loyalty and the oppressive weight of human relations are catalysts for murder…’ says Andrew Joyce of WSJ about the author’s work
‘Dark pacts made by neighbours or co-workers to dispose off bodies’ is the basis of Jaane Jaan. What is so fascinating about this story is that Maya D-Souza is caught in a web of these dark pacts. First when she runs away from her nasty husband who ‘rescues’ her from the dance bar. Then just as she thinks she has made a new life with her daughter in Kalimpong, the maths teacher rescues her from the dilemma of what to do with the dead cockroach in her home. And just as she heaves a sigh of relief that the cops are going to close the case, her daughter asks her: Is the teacher going to tell us how to live, mama?
Murders don’t happen to everyday ordinary folks like us (and that’s one of the many reasons why we are fascinated with murder mysteries). But in our financial lives, we must be smart when we make alliances. Again, loyalty to a bank where your dad banked is a thing of the past. Even when you invest in a mutual fund, find out the loyalties of your money manager as well as the reasons why some funds are recommended and not others. Being informed is staying ahead.
Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication. She can be reached on Twitter at @manishalakhe.