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Monday, December 16, 2019

Jabariya Jodi review: A confused, long-drawn mess

From start to finish, there’s isn’t a single shred of conviction on display. The result is a confused, unpleasing, long-drawn mess, which the viewers will 'jabariya' have to sit through.

Rating: 1 out of 5
Written by Shubhra Gupta | New Delhi | Updated: August 10, 2019 12:16:58 am
Jabariya Jodi review Jabariya Jodi movie review: Sidharth Malhotra is too polished for his rustic Bihari role.

Jabariya Jodi movie cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Parineeti Chopra, Jaaved Jaaferi, Aparshakti Khurana, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Sanjay Mishra, Sheeba Chaddha, Sharad Kapoor, Neeraj Sood
Jabariya Jodi movie director: Prashant Singh
Jabariya Jodi movie rating: One star

Groom-kidnapping in Bihar is not a new subject for Bollywood. But Jabariya Jodi is the first to spin a story around it with A list stars. Sidharth Malhotra, Parineeti Chopra and a host of talented actors come together for this kidnap-‘em-and-marry-‘em-off tale. But from start to finish, there’s isn’t a single shred of conviction on display. The result is a confused, unpleasing, long-drawn mess, which the viewers will ‘jabariya’ have to sit through.

Abhay Singh (Malhotra) is the son-and-chief-factotum of the local ‘bahubali’ (Jaaferi), under whose ‘chatra-chaya’ there flourishes a posse of goons. Their chief job is to organize kidnappings at the behest of the bride’s family. Bulging bags of cash change hands, and everything goes along swimmingly till, one day, Abhay’s childhood sweetheart Babli Yadav (Chopra) hoves into view.

Right from the start, you can see the clear and present problem. Abhay and Babli seem to have been modelled on ‘Bunty aur Babli’ (Abhishek Bachchan and Rani Mukerji in the 2005 Yashraj flick) in their ‘small-town’ sartorial choices, but the pair just doesn’t click. Malhotra is too polished for his rustic Bihari role. And Chopra, togged out in the most outlandish clothes Patna may have been witness too, seems to have got stuck in a rut of familiarity. The same pair had done a good job in 2014’s Hasee Toh Phasee: specificity was written into their characters, and both carried off their roles well. Here, they are paint on the wall.

As the film goes along, confusion gets confounded. Is this a well-meaning social drama, a rom-com, or an actioner? First, there is the excuse of greedy dowry-seekers being given their just desserts when they are forced into these ‘jabariya shaadis’. So we get a lot of trying-too-hard-to-be-funny-but mostly-tasteless episodes of young and men and women being forced to cohabit, while Abhay’s gang, made up of Bollywood’s idea of back-chatting hoods, is handed out quirky lines for us to laugh at.

The too-sudden change of heart, amongst the same people who have done this for decades, is cringe-worthy: even poor Jaaved Jaaferi who’s evidently enjoying vamping it up as the kingpin of the kidnappings is forced into wimping out, and delivering a lecture on the ills of ‘jabariya shaadis’. Huh?

The two actors who stand out are Chandan Roy Sanyal, as the hero’s best buddy, and Aparshakti Khurana, as the nice, noble loser. Both descriptors are clichés, but both single-handedly lift the scenes they are in.

How about giving these actors more to do, Bollywood? Better roles may end up making their jodi’ worth our time. The rest of it is a waste of time and talent.

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