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Sunday, December 10, 2023

JugJugg Jeeyo Review: Divorce Comedy-Drama Done The ‘Dharma’ Way

Bollywood has been going through a dry patch recently. With the exception of Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, some major releases have bit the dust and been unsuccessful at the box office. Good Newwz filmmaker Raj Mehta is back with his socio-drama comedy formula in Karan Johar’s JugJugg Jeeyo (JJJ). The onus is on this one to pull back the crowds as it unites a dynamic cast line-up.

The film is the story of a Punjabi family – the Sainis – and the drama that starts to unravel during a wedding within the clan. The eldest son Kukoo (Varun Dhawan) wants to end his love marriage with his childhood love, Nainaa (Kiara Advani).

They decide to reach home and talk about it comfortably with the family members. But as soon as they return to India for the wedding of Ginny (Prajakta Kohli), Kukoo’s sister, they come to know that everything is not so easy. Rather, Kuckoo’s parents Bheem and Geeta (Anil Kapoor, Neetu Kapoor) are looking at a divorce.

From stunning outfits and lavish locations to affluent lifestyles, JJJ is reminiscent of the Karan Johar spectacles we’ve all enjoyed and experienced. The split-screen moments throw us back to Kal Ho Naa Ho and Dostana days, where traditional Hindi narratives got a modern twist and representation. I really missed such a style of storytelling.

The frosty landscape of Canada contrasts with India’s scorching heat, which highlights the conflicting emotions of all the characters. Even a brightly lit wedding home juxtaposes the darkness suppressed within the principal characters. While it packs several foot-tapping songs featuring some recreations, they all fit well into the narrative where it does not disjoin the film’s cohesiveness. The songs have been created in line with the movie’s commercial appeal and due consideration is evident.

Raj Mehta, like his previous movie, addresses social taboo topics through the guise of comedy and mainstream ‘entertainment’. Not to compare, but the reason why his debut picture worked is the fine balance between seriousness and humour. Good Newwz addressed issues faced by women in modern times with surrogacy as the backdrop. Similar case with this sophomore picture, with divorce being the pivotal angle. It’s quite a dynamic take on marriages and contemporary bonds.

There are some gripping scenes which present issues of characters. The close-ups and crisp editing between them work effectively, especially in one scene with Dhawan and Advani. The smooth rally of dialogue exchange between them is magnificent to observe.

Another scene featuring Neetu Kapoor and Kiara is equally poignant and heartbreaking. Moments like these are relatable, especially when lines convey about drawing the boundaries in relationships. Writing-wise, there is a fascinating layer between the parents’ and children’s peeves with life. Varun, Kiara and Neetu are show-stealers. In fact, Dhawan and Advani show tremendous growth and these are very notable performances of their career. They present conflicting emotions effortlessly. And they look beautiful together on-screen. Neetu is natural in playing such a role and it comes at a very timely moment too. All three actors strongly hold the film together.

In my opinion, the movie falters in gaining the balance between comedy and sobriety. Almost every Anil Kapoor scene has comedic music and there is always a funny tone to his selfish, man-child character. His role is more than just comic relief and he performs it with suave/wit. The heavy dosage of laughter impairs us from relating to the drama unfolding on screen. Before entering the theatre, I knew what to expect from such a potboiler. More than the jokes though, I wanted to be fully invested with the emotions from the on-set, not sporadically. Certain religious gags seem forced and the first half takes a while to get going.

I really wanted to see more Prajakta Kohli and Varun Sood. They are such lovely talents and I wish they got more screen space. Nonetheless, they are delightful to watch. Maniesh Paul, as always, is a natural entertainer. His confidence and charm do the talking. At times, (again, not to compare) his role and demeanour reminded me of Diljit Dosanjh in Good Newwz. Thankfully, all loose ends are tied and the story prevents itself from becoming problematic… You’ll know what I mean when you watch the film.

Overall, it has been a while since I cried, laughed and related to a Hindi film. JugJugg Jeeyo in that sense ticks the boxes in terms of engagement. Varun Dhawan, Neetu Kapoor and Kiara Advani are empowering to watch. Their camaraderie is so powerful. I won’t say the film has been handled brilliantly. But a family entertainer like this, during times of doom and gloom, is certainly worth a watch.

⭐⭐⭐.5 (3.5/5 stars)

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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