Onto the final release of the weekend and I finished watching the much delayed Shahid Kapoor starrer Jersey. An official adapatation of the Telugu film by the same name, this movie was being written off right away considering that the Hindi dubbed version of the original film was already present on Youtube. To be honest, I was skeptical too considering the fact that it was a popular film and that almost everyone had already watched it. I remember watching Jersey almost 3 years ago and it was an emotional tale which had stuck to me ever since. But I remember that Nani in an interview with Film Companion had completely detested the Hindi dubbed version which had revealed the plot within the first 5 minutes rather than the grand reveal at the end which was travesty in an otherwise heartfelt film. But coming back to the Hindi version, when the trailer was out, people started calling it out for its uncanny similarity with Kabir Singh. So clearly not much was going in the film’s favour. With much skepticism I finished watching Jersey and these are my two cents on it.
Story & Screenplay
An official adaptation of the Telugu film by the same name, Jersey follows the story of an ex Ranji Player who plans to make a comeback in cricket at the age of 36. The story is really heartfelt and it gently tugs the strings of your heart. For people who have watched the original with definitely know the pulse of the screenplay and along with it the twists and turns which the film has to offer from a writing standpoint. What I was more interested in seeing was if the screenplay makes me completely forget the original and whether it stands its own ground as an individual film. And to my surprise, it definitely does exactly that. Set in Mohali, the screenplay does well in holding on to its core emotions while creating an individuality of its own. Yes this is a film on cricket but at the core of it, this is a story exploring the relations of a broken and depressed man with his family.
The fact that the conflict begins with not having the money to buy a Jersey for his son on his birthday, just had me sold right away. Loving something and not able to do it can truly break a person which is what is shown so well here. Some of the other positives in the screenplay was the love angle between Shahid and Mrunal which seemed to be more organic than the original. The duo share crackling chemistry with each other and it was indicative of the bond which they share onscreen. Another interesting and emotional bit was the protagonist’s relation with his son. It was so heartwarming that it made me want to hug my family members for that much more longer.
I am not going into other details of the screenplay as it might already be familiar with you but coming to the cricket bit, I thoroughly enjoyed that as well. There were no jump cuts, instead some of them were single long takes which added to the excitement of the drama. It also showed that a lot of sweat and blood may have gone in simply preparing for the sport. Simple fast edits could have ruined the impact and so the makers opted for the hard way out and rightly so. Overall, I was quite happy and satisfied with this adapted screenplay.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are heartfelt and they really create a stir in terms of the impact. I was really impressed by the music of the film. It is a pity that the songs were not made popular but the use of music in the film did not deter its flow. Instead, it carried the story forward which was so refreshing to witness. The BGM is excellent and it blends well into the drama. The cinematography is pretty good capturing the cricket bit pretty well. Director Gowtam Tinnanuri who was had at the helm of the original Telugu film as well, has done a phenomenal job here. It did help his cause as he knew the exact emotions of the original film. And credit must be given to him for making this adaptation rise above all expectations and create an individuality of its own.
The performances are pretty good here. Prit Kamani as Kedar shines in a cameo particularly in that final scene which he beautifully performs. Anjum Batra as Amrit carries on his good form from 83 and does a goid job here too. Abhishek Madrecha as Viru has his moments to shine. Geetika Mehandru as Jasleen is first rate and she really made her presence felt. I was the happiest to watch Pankaj Kapur here. He is a veteran of the industry and a prolific actor and he is simply brilliant as the coach. Mrunal Thakur as Vidya is phenomenal here. I could goas far as say that this is perhaps her career’s best performance on par with Love Sonya. The emotions which she brings to the table was just outstanding. Which brings me to Shahid Kapoor. People often have doubted him in terms of the choice of roles. He went against the tide in films like Haider and Kaminey and later on Kabir Singh and Padmavat. Yet a few people started equating with his character of Jersey as an extension to Kabir Singh. If you watch the film, you will understand that there isn’t even an iota of Kabir Singh in his character of Arjun here(not even Arjun Reddy for some wise people). Instead it is a performance which must be cherished as it was a difficult role. He had to internalize and bottle up his emotions at times staring with an empty gaze. And the man does that effortlessly. He also convinced me with his cricketing skills. On a separate note, one of my favourite scenes was him going to the railway station amd screaming his lungs out after he is selected in the Punjab Ranji Team. This performance may slip under the radar considering that this is a remake(with Kabir Singh being an exception), but he was successfully able to make this character his own so much so that I did not see shades of Nani in him. Another outstanding performance by the underdog!
Jersey is a sincere and heartfelt adaptation of the original Telugu film. Many may not give this film a chance but if you do then it is well worth your time. Available in a theatre near you.