Jubilee (Season 1 Part 2)
Onto the final release of the weekend and I have finished watching part two of the first season of Jubilee which is streaming on Amazon Prime. The first part of Jubilee which had premiered last week was an immersive world building of late 40s and 50s with an interesting mix of characters. In fact, the show did heavily rely on the character dynamics to fuel the narrative ahead. The surroundings were enough to transport you to the bygone era which was a golden era of stardom.
Mumbai or Bombay as we know has undergone a whole lot of changes. While the current generation might be privy only to the coastal roads and sea links, the 90s kids(which is my generation) did have a fascination for The Queen’s necklace and areas surrounding it. I was previously told by my mother that the coastline of the famous Chowpatty beach was next to the Churchgate station and it was only later that Marine Drive was built. Every time I visit an Irani cafe, the old photos of Bombay fascinate me to no extent. Amidst this, there was also a culture of the film studios which did play a significant part in contributing to the culture and vibe of the city. The times when the fascination of movie starlets was at its peak and films would run into pack-houses for weeks after weeks, the term jubilee did arise from this phenomena! A 25 week run was titled Silver Jubilee and a 50 week run was titled Golden Jubilee.
I was lucky to just about witness this fading term in the 90s which was just before the onset of the multiplexes which replaced the term Jubilee with ‘The 100 Crore Club’ and now to ‘The Opening Weekend’. But the charm of standing in a line to purchase a paper ticket, as opposed to booking an E-Ticket on Book My Show, or even being left disappointed with the ‘Houseful’ board was just something else. While being in awe of the starlets, I was always interested in the kind of life which they would be living then. And the series Jubilee did provide a glimpse into exactly that. You could almost place the yesteryear’s stars in each of the characters of the series(with a little bit of mix and match here and there). Precariously placed at the end of part 1, does the second part of Jubilee manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
The second part of the first season of Jubilee does kickstart(ofcourse it does) from the same point where part one had ended. While Part One was more focused on the world building and the character dynamics, Part Two was more about dabbling with the different equations amongst the characters while leading the tale to its conclusion. The story is quite fascinating and almost indulgent with its story telling. The screenplay(of part two) standing at 5 episodes of roughly 40 odd to 50 odd minutes does make for a compelling watch filled with deceit and one upmanship while keeping the charm of the bygone era intact.
Contrary to what I thought might be the base for part two, the drama does open with a film shoot wherein the character of Jay Khanna is seen directing a scene in which he would also be acting in. For anyone who is aware of filmmaking, would know that the most difficult shoots feature animals and children simply because they can be unpredictable with their reactions. And that is shown wonderfully well here in which Jay is not fully in control of the proceedings, and in process does momentarily spoil his equations with people around him. But the writing here was just so organic in showcasing the journey of two characters that did unfold in parallel, only for their worlds to collide in a tale of professional rivalry and one upmanship. The relationship conundrum that they have with other principal characters is interesting and something that does fuel the drama further.
The proceedings are engrossing and very immersive in the manner in which the story is told. The complexity of multiple relationships that change loyalties was a delicate subject and handled with utmost sensitivity. The nuanced politics between two warring studios/producers did act as an undercurrent in the contrasting journey of the two starlets. And I say contrasting because one was on the rise and the other on the descend. In between there was a budding romance between two characters which was a contrast in itself. Both characters did find themselves at the right place but at the wrong time. And that was beautifully represented through a telephone over a couple of episodes. And that did make for a rather heartbreaking experience given how compatible the two were together.
The drama does shift its tone marginally towards the final two episodes when the US and USSR conflict is used as a catalyst for the changing equations of the characters. While the change is gradual, the proceedings do get slightly dark and murky which was a shift in the tonality of the drama. The dark underbelly of the industry back in the day was represented in a rather subtle manner. Having said that, the one criticism that I did have about the drama was that it did get kind of stuck or repetitive in the penultimate episode that did stall things a bit. I did feel the drama could have been wrapped up an episode early perhaps but that is just a perspective on the hindsight. But the finale act did have a tinge of melancholy associated with it that made for such a heartbreaking end particularly with respect to atleast a couple of characters. It is probably a sad reality of stardom that doesn’t last forever in an industry and a city which can be cruel at times. The detailing was again a major plus of the screenplay which was just so beautifully penned.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are textured and underplayed but with beautiful gems to be discovered along the way. The lines make for a solid impact. The music is beautiful <span;>by Amit Trivedi who has understood the tonality of the songs and its associated emotions perfectly. Needless to say, the songs do transport you back in the day(which I had witnessed only while watching films from that era). The BGM is also perfect and does blend really well with the drama. The cinematography is <span;>absolutely spot on and I couldn’t fault any of the efforts here. Instead, I was marveling at the detailing and reimagination here considering that I am a Bombay boy and have seen a few places evolve over the years. The editing is crisp too. Director Vikramaditya Motwane belongs to a rare breed of filmmakers who always know their craft and are technically sound in their approach. Here too, I was amazed at the level of detailing with respect to the world building that did make for such an immersive watch. Also, his handling of delicate relationships was reminiscent of his previous work Lootera(through a few frames) wherein it was handled with utmost sensitivity. The direction is top notch here.
The performances are outstanding here by the ensemble cast. Arun Govil as Narain, Alok Arora as Raghu, Aarya Bhatta as Nanik and Suhani Popli as Meena have lesser screen time as compared to Part One but they are such good actors that they make their stunning presence felt in every scene that features them. Edward Sonnenblick as Vladimir has his moments to shine. Samvedna Sulwalka as the prosecutor is fiery in that finale courtroom scene and she does quite a good job. Chirag Katrecha as Naren has such a heartbreaking character arc despite a limited screen time, and he does a wonderful job here.
Shweta Basu Prasad is a prolific performer and she is excellent as Ratna, emoting beautifully in certain scenes. Vikas Shukla as Asghar is phenomenal and probably the find of the series for me. His ability to portray his vulnerability in tense moments was what stood out for me with respect to his character. Sukhmanee Lamba as Kiran does have a charming presence onscreen in a job done really well. Nandish Sandhu as Jamshed Khan is terrific and continues to intimidate and haunt the viewers with his haunting presence. His ability to deliver bouts of fear was fascinating to watch and it made for a trenendous impact.
Prosenjit Chatterjee as Shrikant Roy has a sense of class to his performance which is supremely dignified. Ram Kapoor as Walia is phenomenal to watch in a foul-mouthed character that has a tinge of humour that does light up the proceedings, thereby adding texture.
Aditi Rao Hydari as Sumitra looks just so pretty and is mesmerising in her performance. It was such a well restrained and balanced performance that I could totally imagine her being a top starlet in the bygone era. The softness in her words is veiled with hidden motives, yet the fate of her character almost left me hollow and heartbroken. Wamiqa Gabbi as Niloufer is just outstanding almost being effervescent yet showcasing her vulnerability with aplomb. Her ability to play with so many emotions and accurately represent each one of them just shows her class as a performer. This was a towering act by a performer that you shall hear a lot from in the future.
But it is the duo of Aparshakti Khurana and Sidhant Gupta that yet again manage to impress. Aparshakti as Binod is a revelation in every sense of the word. The calmness of his character is represented with strokes of grey in what was a very measured performance. Sidhant as Jay Khanna has this easy going charm with a towering presence onscreen. Both have so many conflicting emotions to play with and both a phenomenal in every sense of the word here. Rest assured, this is just a beginning for two stars are born!
The second part of the first season of Jubilee is a golden jubilee hit with outstanding performances that comes with my highest recommendation. Available on Amazon Prime.