Jabariya Jodi movie review: Sidharth Malhotra, Parineeti Chopra film has a serious case of identity crisis
Cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Parineeti Chopra, Sanjay Mishra, Jaaved Jaaferi, Aparshakti Khurana, Chandan Roy Sanyal
Director: Prashant Singh
Jabariya Jodi could have been a lot of things; a scathing indictment of the evil of dowry, a social drama on the novel but illegal solution to that ill which only a state as ‘jugaadu’ as Bihar could have come up with – pakadwa vivaah – or a satire about what such a forced coupling can do to a man, a woman and the society.
Instead, Jabariya Jodi regurgitates the boy-meets-girl, boy is not sure that he should marry girl, boy realises at the absolute last moment that he needs to say ‘I do’ trope, which is all set in a kind of antiseptic Bihar that could only exist in Film City, Mumbai.
Watch the trailer for Jabariya Jodi here:
Sidharth Malhotra is the local tough – Baahubali, if you will – whose idea of social service is to marry off deserving women to unsuspecting men whose family wants half of Bihar as dowry. He might look at it as ‘samaj seva’ but his wannabe politician dad (played by a poker-faced Jaaved Jaaferi) charges a fancy dime for it. He also holds his son’s strings.
Sidharth’s Abhay has his modus operandi and life sorted. He wants to be an MLA come election time, and goes about disrupting Valentine’s Day celebrations and offering the option of ‘shaadi aur shraadh’ to suitable boys. Other than for him, marriage seems to be the end-all and be-all for everyone else, including the women who are marrying men who are crying while taking ‘pheras’, their parents, and film’s leading lady, Babli (Parineeti Chopra).
A firebrand and a rebel in all other aspects, Babli wants to eventually get married because, well, that is what women do. A woman who has been branded ‘Bomb’ for her feistiness and quick temper, she is okay if consent doesn’t factor into it. Abhay and Babli meet and the film soon goes off the rails. He is clear that ‘kursi’, and not ‘bistar’ is what he is aiming for. He also believes he is his philandering father’s son. So, no marriage for him. She is happy to leave her future in his inept hands after her own clumsy attempt at ‘pakadwa vivaah’.
Both Parineeti and Sidharth look too urban to fit into the milieu. Despite the loud shirts and aviator shades and an attempt at getting his Bihari accent right, it is hard to buy Sidharth as a Baahubali. The spunky Parineeti also pales into her one-dimensional role. You only remember her hair in an atrocious shade of red, her green eyeliner and her penchant for crop tops. Somebody please find the favourite Bollywood couturier of the day and organise some clothes for her that real people wear!
The film gets its zing from the language that you’d only hear in this part of India. Raaj Shandilya’s dialogues give the film its few hilarious moments as Jaaferi explains why Audis are better than a Mercedes: “Usme teen taala hota hai, ye chaar choodi waali hai. Isme zyaada hai,” or a man complaining about paan: “Ye paan banaye ho ya Japan banaye ho?”
Sanjay Mishra as Parineeti’s father, Duniyaram, and Neeraj Sood as his world-wise sidekick chew up the scenery. Chandan Roy Sanyal as Sidharth’s confidante Guddu also adds to the film’s credibility. However, it is Aparshakti Khurana who is the collateral damage of the Jabariya Jodi enterprise. The talented actor seems to have been given one job – to keep a straight face. He manages to do a lot while delivering the most inward-looking line of dialogue in the film, as he says that Babli can’t look beyond her ego and Abhay is caught in a web of his insecurities, while he is the only one who understands the true meaning of love.
Director Prashant Singh’s treatment of an important subject that is begging to be turned into a social satire bursting with local flavour, leaves the film stranded with an identity crisis. Bihar is an underrepresented state in Bollywood cinema. While directors Prakash Jha and Anurag Kashyap have based a lot of their stories there, a social drama that puts it on the map like, say, what Bareilly Ki Barfi or Tanu Weds Manu did for Uttar Pradesh, is what we need next.
Jabariya Jodi could have been that film but, alas, it is as flavourless as the ‘litti chokha’ served on pristine white ceramic plates– for sometimes, you like to get your hands dirty.
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