To be frank, acting is the only Jordaar thing in this movie, baki sab boredaar hai (rest all is boring) from an entertainment point of view!
We have seen several movies made on sensitive topics of late – The Kashmir Files, Badhai Do, Shubh Mangal Savadhan, Padman, Article 15, Toilet, Mulk, Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, and many others. Some of these movies present the topic in an entertaining manner thus emphasizing the message at the right time, while others tread a serious path not straying from the topic or the message. Jayeshbhai Jordaar has its heart in the right place with the story, the message and the format, but the execution goes horribly wrong in the second half.
The movie deals with the sensitive topic of female infanticide that is still sadly rampant in some parts of India. This story is set in a fictional town in Gujarat called Pravingarh, which is currently helmed by a male-heir obsessed patriarch, portrayed by Boman Irani.
The first half of the film very effectively paints a picture of how deep rooted the evil of female infanticide is spread in this fictional society. It shows how even women of the village knowingly or unknowingly are a party to spreading this evil from generation to generation.
As I watched this movie, I could not help but remember a tragic incident with my close friend whose wife desperately expected only a male heir as the second child. She was so desperate that she lost her mental balance when a female child was born. She tried to take the child’s life and her own too, and unfortunately ended her life in a tragic manner – all because she wanted a male heir for the family. And this happened in a loving and supportive family setting where the husband and the family were happy to have a child regardless of the gender. Now imagine the situation of the poor mother where the entire family and the society around you expects a male heir. And a family where they are even willing to kill the female child through abortion or post birth. This is what the film depicts in the first half. The intricacies shown are entertaining, yet eye opening on the ways of rural India.
The protagonist, played brilliantly by Ranveer Singh, is shown as a timid husband who fears his father, yet wants to stand by his wife, played very well by Shalini Pandey (of Arjun Reddy fame), and to protect her from this evil tradition, at least after five abortions of prior female foetuses. Their first born, played by Jia Vaidya, is a tech savvy and feisty 9-year-old who is old enough to understand this sin, support her parents, and often ending up filling them with courage.
The story takes so many turns in the second half that the key message of the story is completely lost. This results in an unending cat and mouse chase which gets repetitive and boring after some time. Audiences feel that this is a concoction of too many virtues thrown in (non-violence, women empowerment, good etiquettes, etc. etc.) to fight one evil; and most importantly, spoiling a crucial climax moment with a ridiculously silly comparison of how a kiss is the definitive binding between a man a woman!
The storytelling completely loses its plot and, I think, debutant writer director, Divyang Thakkar, should own this up. The film has Yash Raj banner, the topmost Indian actor, brilliant supporting star cast and a sensitive plot, yet Divyang seems to have missed to capitalise on it completely.
As I said earlier, acting is the only jordaar in this movie. Boman Irani is as dependable as ever playing the male chauvinist father. He makes you hate him all throughout the movie. For a film focused on female infanticide, the females in the movie have a limited role. It appears as they killed the female role as well! However, the three key women Ratna Pathak Shah, Shalini Pandey and Deeksha Joshi (playing the protagonist’s sister) shine in their limited screen time. Watch out for the little girl named Jia – she is phenomenal and a natural actor, very comfortable in front of such stalwarts like Boman Irani, Ratna Pathak Shah and Ranveer Singh. She clearly steals the show in all her scenes!
It appears the makers planned to completely rest the film on Ranveer’s shoulders. He holds it very well till the last. Since Bajirao Mastani, I am increasingly in awe of this actor. He picks up each role that is different from the last – Dil Dhadakne Do, Padmavat, Simba, Gully Boy, and 83. He immerses himself completely into each character. This particular character is completely opposite to Ranveer’s on or off-screen persona. In fact, one cannot even imagine him as a timid person. Yet, he is very convincing as one right from the first frame of the film. Most of the actors are native Gujarati speakers, but Ranveer has the best accent and mannerism amongst them. This is hallmark of a true actor!
If you plan to watch this film, I would say go and just watch Jayeshbhai Jordaar for him. Even in the goofed up climax as he mouths the most horrendous dialogues, you can see his sincerity to his craft. Bravo Ranveer!
Contributing Author: Sanjiv Kulkarni is an ardent Indian cinema and music buff with an interest in the art of movie-making. He shares his take on movies and some rarer movies too. He lives in Melbourne and works as an IT Sales leader.
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