Jayeshbhai Jordaar (2022) Review!!

Synopsis – A timid Jayesh must defy his patriarchal family as he flees with his wife to save their unborn daughter from foeticide.

My Take – While the Hindi film industry seems to be taking a bashing from loud testosterone-driven South Indian produced features at the box office (not that I am complaining as I thoroughly enjoyed RRR and K.G.F: Chapter 2), at first glance this latest YRF production promised to be an immediate refresher as its eponymous titular male protagonist seemed incapable of bashing up umpteen goons or spout big dialogues to challenge the so called oppressors. Someone who despite being adept at merging with the background is also capable on taking on ample social issues.

Set up as an endearingly light-hearted film, here debutante director Divyang Thakkar and co-writer Anckur Chaudhry take on serious subjects like illegality of sex determination during pregnancy, female infanticide and domestic abuse with chameleon actor Ranveer Singh leading the charge. But only if they could settle for a unique tone to tell their story!

Meant to be a scathing satire on patriarchy and superstition, the film is mostly endearing as it uses humor to also question gender stereotype and disparity, it is unfortunate that after 124 minutes, the execution and insipid writing leave a lot to be desired.

No doubt the film’s heart is at the right place, yet the screenplay lacks bite and is only intermittently successful in landing punches that count, making it even difficult for a performer like Ranveer Singh to salvage. It also doesn’t help that these topics are overly familiar, and given the current mental state of the country, it is impossible to even think of a change to ever take place.

Set in a fictitious small town called Pravingadh in Gujarat, the story follows a meek fellow named Jayesh Patel (Ranveer Singh), who along with his wife, Mudra Patel (Shalini Pandey), have been under extreme pressure from his patriarchal parents, the proud traditional chieftain Ramlal (Boman Irani) and his wife, Jashoda (Ratna Pathak Shah), to birth a son, who will carry the legacy of the family forward and keep the political control within themselves.

Though they already have a 9-year-old daughter, Siddhi (Jia Vaidya), Mudra has been forced to go through six miscarriages to apparently get things right. But when Jayesh finds out that their latest pregnancy is also going to birth a girl, he hatches a plan to take Mudra, Siddhi, and his unborn child, and make a run for it, away from the entire male-dominated environment of his village.

What follows is a cat and mouse chase between the couple and the men of their village. Narrated linearly and in a light vein, the story is simple, and uncomplicated. For a while, the plot appears like a road film, especially when Jayesh escapes from his home and the clutches of his parents, with his feisty 9-year-old daughter and wife.

There are some twists, mostly predictable, some funny scenes, a few jokes that land flat and of course a lot of dramatic dialogue. The biggest highlight of the film is its lead protagonist.

For the longest time, Hindi films have worshiped alpha males (well they still do), here the film turns that template around and question false bravado through Jayesh’s timid but determined hero. It is rather surprising to find Jayesh as a closet feminist, in a society that has alpha males and dominating matriarchs. Everyone around him, his parents and even his wife are more concerned about an heir than he himself. They are all by-products of the same society, and yet Jayesh stands out.

The film also contains scenes where Mudra sees what life possibly can offer when she is out of the stifling environment of her in-laws’ home. But the excitement of the escapade is cut short too soon, and by the mid-point the plot gets jerky, and the narrative loses steam with ludicrous drama and the noble intentions runs thin when the screenplay starts reducing the issue to jokes for quick giggles.

The portions where Jayesh play acts to be the bossy, abusive husband just to please his parents draws in laughs too but near the climax, the film somewhat oversimplifies the grave issue at hand. The portion where the character of Amar Tau (Puneet Issar), the chief of the female less Haryana village, plays out on screen rather clumsily and the effect is downright silly. Also not providing help is the strange eulogy about how the world can be saved by a kiss. A strange analogy that causes the women of the village from apologetic figures to faces of rebellion.

Without a doubt, Ranveer Singh is one of the finest actors working in India today, coming from a fantastic turn in 83 (2021), this one keeps the flow going for him. Marking her Hindi film debut, Shalini Pandey, who played a demure and timid lover in the blockbuster Telugu film Arjun Reddy (2017), is decent enough. Boman Irani is flawless as always while Ratna Pathak Shah contributes well to the narrative.

Amid all this, child actor debutante Jai Vaidya, steals the show with her wit, confidence, and spontaneity. In other roles, Puneet Issar, Deeskha Joshi, Samay Raj Thakkar and Ragi Jani are also good. On the whole, ‘Jayeshbhai Jordaar’ is a decent, endearing yet clumsy social light-hearted entertainer held together by Ranveer Singh‘s superb act.

Directed – 

Starring – Ranveer Singh, Boman Irani, Shalini Pandey

Rated – PG

Run Time – 124 minutes

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