Prashant Singh’s film Jabariya Jodi neither sticks to the genre nor is anything that you would enjoy
When was the last time that a film just refused to end? While even the extremely bad ones pass, this one here stretches so much that you wonder if time has stopped.
This happens for real, predominantly in Bihar. Potential grooms are abducted and forcibly married to girls in order to circumvent the ill-faced dowry. Although pakadwa shadi as it’s popularly called is a known and a much debated phenomenon in Northern India, the premise is interesting for the absurdity it brings in. It is something not many in other parts of the country are aware of. Jabariya Jodi banks upon it rightly where the issue has been given a call. But the moment the issue is built into a story, it starts to lose, so much that it actually gets excruciatingly painful.
Abhay Singh (Sidharth Malhotra) is into a family business of kidnapping men and forcing them into marrying the women. His life takes a turn when his childhood sweetheart, a fearless and independent girl Babli Yadav (Parineeti Chopra) once again enters his life and declares that she still loves him.
First-time writer Sanjeev K Jha has picked up an issue very interesting. Considering Bollywood, target audience, and the trending fashion in the industry, the idea has everything one would lend support to.
Story of Jabariya Jodi has all the elements to keep you invested, but only in the set up of the drama. The issue is being talked about, it informs about people involved in it, brides’ and grooms’ sides in general- everything minus the consequences. But the point where the love-story angle is initiated, you begin to distance yourself.
It is only after this point that the story starts getting crass and uninteresting and you are served over-exaggerated performances of almost everyone on board. There’s a scene early on in the film where Babli beats up her boyfriend who dumps her. It’s such naive direction and poor performances of actors that you wonder why filmmakers even do such a thing.
After the film begins on a sweet note, there is nothing in the film you would enjoy, right till the end credits roll. The screenplay involving forced humor gets on your nerves big time. Also the situations take you far away from the actual issue which gets rubbed in nonsense and unwanted romance.
After a point, you actually start pondering on why this film was made. It doesn’t give justice to the issue for one. Secondly, the direction is thin and plain topped with an unintentionally comical supporting cast.
Is there love? No. Is there chemistry? No. Is there a social message? No. Is there even a story? A big NO.
Sidharth Malhotra looks too polished for a role like this. Also he doesn’t try to get to the skin of the character. He tries to behave rugged and raw, but evidently he’s not natural. Even those glossy and tacky costumes and goggles don’t work. He performs to the best of his level it seems, but it’s not enough. It’s a poor act. A huge letdown.
Parineeti Chopra not only looks good, but also acts ably. It’s her character that comes across as caricaturist and at times not worthy. So blame it on the writers but not her because she surrenders fully and does a decent job.
Javed Jafferi is good in a role that has a linear arc. Hence he doesn’t get much scope to shine. Skill underutilized, yet again. Sanjay Mishra gives you a very good time with his dialogues. It’s a lovely character.
Aparshakti Khurana is undoubtedly brilliant. Even in the brief role of a friend zoned lover, he leaves an indelible mark on you. He’s too good. His supporting act is even better than the lead ones at times. Sheeba Chaddha has a small role but she performs well. Chandan Roy Sanyal has some powerful scenes and you wish there was more of him.
Songs are hit and also very well choreographed in terms of visual appeal. They don’t contribute much to the narrative though. Score by Joel Castro is average and could be better at times wherever it got jarring.
Cinematography by Vishal Sinha is full of colors and elements played to treat your eyes. In fact it’s a dark world of crime and illegal practices shown in full color. It works though for the positioning of the film. Production design is rich in it’s visual flavor and the sets too are vibrant. Of course you do feel the absence of realism.
Editing by Dev Rao Jadhav is fine. Nothing great actually. The genre primarily doesn’t offer much scope in those terms. Also the film seems too long and stretched at 143 mins. A good 30 mins could be chopped off and the film would still be the same.
Jabariya Jodi demanded seriousness in terms of the portrayal of the issue. The execution thereafter gets very mundane. A sure thumbs down for the shabby direction and weak writing. A drag. A letdown. A slog. A pain. Call it anything but not an entertaining film.