Jabariya Jodi Hindi Movie Review
Having been blissfully unexposed to any trailers and marketing materials for director Prashant Singh's Jabariya Jodi, I walked into the theater with no expectations and faint hope from the reteaming of Siddharth Malhotra and Parineeti Chopra. Their last project together Hasee Toh Phasee remains one of the better rom-coms to come out of Bollywood in the recent few years, a formulaic film that was aware of its formula and was pushed a couple of notches higher by good music and Chopra's ticking bomb performance.
Jabariya Jodi, however, turns out to be formula at its worst, with no creativity or genuine emotions anywhere in sight. Instead, social ills like dowry and forced marriage are regularly targeted for a few uncomfortable laughs with no deeper understanding or empathy for the causes it touts as social service.
Set in Bihar, JJ follows our daring leading couple who meet years after being separated by their family as kids. The romantic feelings are rekindled but the situation remains the same: their lives and families aren't exactly compatible, which repeatedly comes between their true romance. When I say repeatedly, I mean again and again till the very last scene of the film. The hero is kidnapping another man to marry the heroine but she thinks she's marrying him. Then she kidnaps the hero but doesn't marry him. Then he kidnaps her back and kidnaps the same guy from before to marry her, then doesn't let him marry her. Then they agree to marry different people and it looks like they'll go through with it finally but we all know that ain't happening.
If all of this sounds tiring, that's because it is extremely so. The constant back-and-forth is initially amusing but after the umpteenth misunderstanding and ego clash that comes between their happy union, you can tell how hard the writing team has been at work to fill those 135 minutes. If only primary writer Sanjeev K Jha had spent a little more time giving the characters genuine feelings rather than easily sellable situations that can be repeatedly mined for the continual escalation of plot elements, these characters would not have come across as just caricatures with horrible inconsistent Bihari accents and dialogues.
Director Prashant Singh doesn't bring too many fresh ideas to the table either, with his direction playing it completely safe and conventional with its overabundant use of slo-mo emotional songs and choppy transitions from one tone to another across various scenes. His shot breakdown skills could also use a lot of polishing, going for bland and unintuitive close ups to mask the mostly cheap looking sets and lack of authentic Bihari locales.
Parineeti Chopra's acting skills continue to slide downhill. She never manages to feel comfortable in the skin of her contradictory Bihari character and she journeys through the ups and downs of her arc with unyielding flatness. She's nowhere nearly as miscast as Sidhharth Malhotra though, who brings all the intensity and comic flair of an acting exercise at acting school. He is unable to shed his obviously polished appearance, and appears utterly incapable of the kind of energy and security that was needed to pull off this role of a paan-spitting Bihari thug. Both Jaaved Jafferi and Sanjay Mishra get barely anything to do apart from playing their cliched bit-parts reliably with their world of experience but the biggest waste of the film is Aparshakti Khurana, who is earnest and genuine in a completely thankless filler role.
With both of their careers in the middle of a downward trend, Sidhharth Malhotra and Parineeti Chopra would've been hoping for a repeat success together after Hasee Toh Phasee. Alas, Jabariya Jodi fails to emulate the quirky charm and sweet emotional core of that much superior film, and all it manages to be is another proof that good films are made from good screenplays, not a producer's false idea of a hit lead pair.