Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the Amitabh Bachchan starrer Jhund which is directed by Nagraj Manjule. Honestly, more than Mr. Bachchan, I was curious to watch this film because of Nagraj Manjule. I have been a huge fan of his ever since the time I watched Sairat. His ability of a director was discovered when he was able to turn a happy ending to a shocking one all in a span of 5 minutes right at the end! Post that I happened to watch Fandry(which had actually released before Sairat) and I was bowled over by the spectacular final scene which has stayed with me even today. So when he had announced that he would venture into hindi films with a sports drama, I was really interested. The sports genre has always been a bit of a love-hate affair for Bollywood. The tricky bit is not only to show sports but to either tread the path of a human story or take up the route of a social issue(or at times both). One of the sole reasons for 83 failing at the Box Office was that it had cricket for its entire runtime(which I really loved). This has the masses almost single handedly rejecting the film. Coming back to the review, is Jhund then worth your time and money, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
Loosely based on the life of Vijay Barse, Jhund follows the story of a retired sports teacher who manages keeps the slum kids away from drugs and crime by keeping them occupied with football. The story is really heartfelt and unlike a regular sports film as it transcends beyond the sports drama template in the second half. And here I must say that the credit goes to the marketing team who cut its trailer. It did not reveal any bit of the plot points which usually are part spoilers in a trailer these days. The screenplay is brilliantly written here. It starts off with the introduction of characters and the world around them which did take a while for me to settle in into the drama. Post that, the drama follows a regular template of the sports genre – a group of underdogs, learning a sports, playing a match against a local school team and eventually coming out on top. The proceedings here are fun and enjoyable but not anything which you haven’t seen already.
But the magic of Manjule kicks in in what turned out to be one of the brilliant second halves of the year. The social commentary of the lives coupled with the society and its own issues is what forms majority of the second half. There isn’t a tournament where the underdogs go onto win – No this ain’t that tale. Instead you get to witness some harsh reality of the modern day world. This is vintage Manjule as he absolutely commands your unwavering attention here which culminates into an emotionally moving final act which has a lovely metaphor used at the end. Overall, a brilliantly penned screenplay.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are sharp and catchy and almost pedestrian that lends authenticity to the drama. Also, some amount of humour is nicely explored through the dialogues. The music by Ajay-Atul is outstanding reaffirmimg the fact that they know the pulse of the audience so well. Something even better is the BGM which is one of the best this year(again sparingly used). How a BGM is able to hold an entire first half together was something I learnt today. It was vibrant, energetic and kept me hooked throughout. The cinematography expertly captures the game of football and in general most scenes. Director Nagraj Manjule proves his mettle yet again, this time in a totally different genre. He is a genius filmmaker, make no mistake, and he holds your attention throughout the film without any interruptions.
The performances are simply brilliant here. Arjun Radhakrishnan is sincere. Rajiya Suhel as Raziya is just so amazing with a lovely track to her name. Rinku Rajguru as Monika is absolutely first rate in an extended cameo. Her Sairat co-star Akash Thosar lends commendable support in an unabashed and unapologetic role. Sayli Patil as Bhavana looks very pretty and has a brilliant screen presence. She is quite good here. The find of the film for me was Ankush Gedam who is brilliant as Ankush aka Don. Such natural acting which I was witness to that I couldn’t come to think that this was his first film. He literally owned the show here. And Amitabh Bachchan as Vijay was all class here. He is such a huge institution in acting that it gives people like me to study his craft rather than rate him(which I cannot). Such a brilliant masterclass in acting by him knowing exactly when to hold back and when to express. All the rest of the boys have done a phenomenal job.
Jhund is a brilliant sports drama that goes beyond sports. A very different kind of film especially from the Hindi Film Industry. We need more of this and less of remakes! But till then cheers to Jhund! Available in a theatre near you and Highly Recommended.