Jayeshbhai Jordaar movie cast: Ranveer Singh, Shalini Pandey, Ratna Pathak Shah, Boman Irani, Jiya Vaidya
Jayeshbhai Jordaar movie director: Divyang Thakkar
Jayeshbhai Jordaar movie rating: 1.5 stars
How far will the desperation for a ‘waaris’ (male heir) take you? If you are Jayesh bhai (Ranveer Singh) and Mudra ben (Shalini Pandey), a young expecting couple living under the thumb of overbearing elders, you cow down to their dictates, which could include, over and above everything else, a sex determination test .
First things first, for a film to pick this up in order to hammer it down as a pernicious, illegal practice which should never have existed in the first place, it needs to figure out exactly which tone it wants to adopt. Jocular, matter-of-fact, pointed, or deliberately leaving a loophole for the guilty to crawl out of? Fearing it would turn out too much of a documentary, as issue-based features so often are accused of, you bung in, at regular intervals, colorful characters, quirky detours, a precocious child, without realizing that you are hollowing out your own film’s core.
This is exactly what happens in this latest YRF outing. In his zeal to cement the timidness of Jayesh, who can’t open his mouth in front of his babuji (Boman Irani) and ba (Ratna Pathak Shah), we get scene upon scene in which Patel Sr gets to be a roaring patriarch, and his wife to be his female counterpart. And that follows scene upon scene of Jayesh being as much as a shield as he can to the very pregnant, about-to-deliver Mudra, and his nine-year-old daughter, against his parents and the ‘samaaj’ (the film brings up ‘society’ at every opportunity, giving its older protagonists an excuse to be the way they are). What can the poor things do when society itself is so regressive?
And just in case we were about to come down heavily on all of Gujarat (now that would never do, would it), we get a bunch of Haryanvi ‘pehelwaans’ (led by the muscly Puneet Issar), all regretful about having got rid of their daughter children even before they were born. Again, a point that needs to be made, but is weak laughter the only way to do this? When the boy-hungry seniors are not being disgustingly misogynistic to the women folk buried under their ‘ghoonghats’, they are chasing Jayesh and Mudra, who are on the run. Just what does this film want to be? A chase, a comedy, or a movie suffused with meaning? The last time YRF managed to put all its ducks in a row, it was with the terrific ‘Dum Lagaa Ke Haisha‘, and that was in 2015.
No one escapes unscathed. Ranveer Singh tries very hard to be ‘jordaar’, but is let down by the film which literally has no ‘jor’. Shalini Pandey, the meek little girl from ‘Arjun Reddy’, turns into a meek little wife here. Boman Irani has nothing to do but yell the house down, and Pathak Shah is handed a ‘Mirch Masala’ scene, reminding us of that winner of a movie, which stacked all its decks behind its beleaguered women, and won the day.
No such luck here. The intentions in ‘Jayeshbhai Jordaar’ may have been noble, but the film comes off as a babble of characters flailing about in a plot which makes you grit your teeth. Imagine having a film which has a main character responsible for the death of several unborn children, without the deed leaving a discernible scar on his soul: he just tosses it out in a line, sheds a tear, and that’s the end of that.
Finally, a character says out loud: yeh kya ho raha hai yahan? (Just what is going on here?). It comes not a second too soon.