Balaji Telefilms and Karma Entertainment present “Jabariya Jodi”
Produced by: Shobha Kapoor, Ekta Kapoor and Shailesh R. Singh
Directed by: Prashant Singh
Written by: Sanjeev K. Jha, Raaj Shaandilya & Neeraj Singh
Music: Tanishk Bagchi, Vishal Mishra, Ashok Mastie, Sachet Tandon-Parampara Thakur & Ramji Gulati
Starring: Parineeti Chopra, Sidharth Malhotra, Jaaved Jaaferi, Aparashakti Khurrana, Sanjay Mishra, Neeraj Sood, Gopal Datt, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Sharad Kapoor, Mohit Baghel, Sheeba Chaddha, Rashul Tandon, Sp. App.: Elli AvRam and others
Like “Super 30” three weeks ago, this film has a brilliant first half. It is in the second half that the film, similarly, plummets. It thus follows the pattern of that movie in becoming completely predictable in the last half-hour of a fairly long narration that needed to be curtailed by a good 20 to 25 minutes.
Examining the existing issue of “jabariya shaadi” or forced marriages as a retrograde tradition in Bihar, it takes a lighter look at the issue, by making it seem that the people who are indulging in this are “social workers” who do this when unreasonable dowry (itself illegal) is demanded.
Hukum Dev Singh (Jaaved Jafferi) runs this “business” and is a patriarchal and soulless man who has dominated his wife (Sheeba Chaddha) and son Abhay. Abhay has had a childhood crush on Babli, but Babli’s parents leave town when Abhay and Babli are still kids.
Abhay has now grown up (Sidharth Malhotra) and is the main operator in the “Jabariya Shaadi” business, while Babli (Parineeti Chopra) has been dumped by a man, who she goes to meet and beats him up, causing her father Duniya Lal (Sanjay Mishra) to bribe the police to get her out of jail, even as her live video of her attacking the man has gone viral.
Soon, Babli and Abhay meet at her friend’s wedding and even recognize each other. Old flames are rekindled from Babli’s side, but Abhay is reluctant to commit as he is afraid he will be a bad husband because he has “gone after his father.” Duniya Lal also abhors Abhay as he is a goon.
When a nerdy doctor Pappu (Rashul Tandon)’s parents demand dowry from Duniya Lal, they unwillingly resort to almost kidnapping the man, until a politician (Sharad Kapoor) strikes a deal with Hukum. Babli gets the wrong impression that her father is planning on Abhay as her match and is happy.
But on the planned wedding day, she actually hears Abhay tell her father that he does not love Babli and that Pappu was to be her “jabariya” husband. Now Babli, though heartbroken, decides to kidnap Abhay himself and forcibly marry him. But there is trouble in store.
The first half is amazingly lit up with light sequences galore and some truly sparkling dialogues (Shaandilyaa and Sood), and the second half begins promisingly indeed with the feisty Babli deciding to teach Abhay a lesson by kidnapping him. However, after this, the film plummets in pace as well as freshness as trite and banal stuff supervenes and we get a very predictable end where she is almost married off to her ever-loyal best friend Santosh (Aparashakti Khurrana) and Abhay to the politician’s daughter in a marriage of convenience.
The film is packed with formulaic stuff right from the beginning, with the childhood sweethearts (Aryan Arora and Gurket Kaur are amazing child actors, especially the latter, whose eyes and smile are infectious indeed—she is an inspired piece of casting for Parineeti’s childhood). There is the mandatory item number too for Abhay. But the general happenings are riveting and lifted by interesting lines full of humor, pith or both.
But when the film ends after a long-drawn narrative, we only wish that in these days of enlightened audiences, the writers and director could have been much more persistent in maintaining its freshness and strong in their convictions. Prashant Singh and the writers needed to believe more in Cinema 2019 than in Hindi Movies 1995-2004!
The initial song “Naina,” though not memorable after it is over – and mainly because of the high-pitched male voice – is pleasing as it has well-written words (Rashmi Virag). The rest of the music is indifferent as usual, with the ridiculously omnipresent nuisance value of Punjabi words in a Bihar setup!
Technically average, the film is helped by routine but competent performances by Jafferi, Mishra, Neeraj Sood (as Babli’s uncle), Chandan Roy Sanyal (Abhay’s friend) and the artistes who play cronies of both Babli and Abhay. Chaddha is humdrum (her role is banal too) and Sharad Kapoor hams big-time. Khurrana, despite a predictable and fairly repetitious character, is likable.
Sidharth Malhotra is impressive in parts as Abhay Singh, but in the latter parts of the film, he seems to be in mechanical mode, as if confused about how to take it all forward. Parineeti Chopra scores with her eyes, expressions and body language and seems to be in element almost throughout. It is again in the final sequences that she seems to have lost interest.
Plus, the absurd idea of a feisty girl who has all along been modern in thought and worn glamorous attire docilely standing there with a tearful expression while her beloved is being beaten up pulls down the film in big measure when we have seen her beat up a man earlier.
At the end of the day, if you want undemanding fare or are fans of the lead pair, “Jabariya Jodi” is an okay one-time watch. It could have been in the list of the great small-town light dramas that have embellished Hindi cinema in the last few years. After a delightful confection like “Hasee Toh Phasee” (2014), the Sidharth-Parineeti pair faces a steep come down, even if their chemistry remains as good as before.
Rating: *** (Just About)