Jaadugar Review

Jaadugar is too filmsy, observes Sukanya Verma.

Jaadugar revolves around a magician.

But don’t expect any behind-the-scenes action on what goes on behind all that gilli gilli choo.

The only tricks of the trade ever revealed are ‘dil jeetnewale ko jaadugar kehte hain‘ and ‘asli pyaar‘ leads to ‘asli jaadu‘.

For Neemuch town’s wishful thinker Meenu (Jitendra Kumar), even that is hard to grapple with.

As long as he can remember, Meenu only cares about what he wants.

Orphaned at a young age when his parents died in an accident, he neither shares his late father or father-figure-like chacha‘s (Jaaved Jaaferi) love for football nor can he play to save his life.

Instead, his heart is set on hocus pocus, slurping tilliwali kulfi and one-sided relationships.

Meenu wears his delusions like a badge of smugness.

Oddly, Jaadugar doesn’t find anything strange about his glorified stalker or creepy ideas of romance. Rather, it renders him as some sort of protector of the lady for following her everywhere lest some depraved eve teaser pops up and attacks, only to text his way into her heart by spamming her SMS inbox.

Director Sameer Saxena’s drama, written by The Viral Fever‘s Biswapati Sarkar is awfully ambivalent about Meenu’s character.

A hotchpotch of self-centred impulses and genial persona, the makers cannot decide if they are going for a coming-of-age tone or rise of the unlikeable underdog vibe.

As if dealing with Meenu’s wilful ways and bland jokes aren’t exasperating enough, Jaadugar decides its original purpose is to be a triumph-of-spirit flick about a ragtag team caught in a quintessential David versus Goliath scenario.

Meenu’s uncle wants to fulfill his big brother’s unrealised dream of winning the inter-colony football competition named the Dabholkar Cup after Neemuch’s local legend. Except his team, Adarsh Colony’s Sikandars encompassing angry old uncles, failed singers, jija-saala jodis, puny hopefuls, incentive-lacking destitute and a lone housewife are too comfortable with their loser reputation to change the status quo.

It’s only when Meenu accepts the challenge on their behalf in order to win the hand of the ophthalmologist (Arushi Sharma) he flirts with the cheesiest pickup lines, the movie shifts tracks from rom-com to sports drama.

Jaadugar‘s aim to interconnect these two diverse circumstances at nearly three hours comes across as a feature film masquerading as an eight-part Web series.

Throw in some father-daughter estranged relations, Meenu’s magician mentor (Manoj Joshi) and his strange demands and the seeds of overnight sown inspiration in the unwieldy squad bearing fruit, Jaadugar‘s bumbling attempts to be funny, charming or thrilling fall flat on its face.

Although the movie does redeem itself slightly in its third act, purely in good faith, the path unto this moment is strewn with far too many contrivances.

Moreover, the stakes are too low.

Unlike Jhund, the sport isn’t aiming to rehabilitate the underprivileged, nor does it involve winning medals for India.

In absence of whimsy wizardry and a solid enough reason to root for its poor prospects, Jaadugar‘s witless enthusiasm loses ground. Even the matches are prolonged bits of drab action and fail to inject some zing into the proceedings.

Do the actors rise above the flimsy matter?

Let’s just say, they are the least of Jaadugar‘s problems.

By now, Jitendra Kumar knows the small-town, smooth talker like the back of his hand. He has no trouble finding the sur of Meenu.

What’s missing is virtue.

Jaaved Jaaferi is subtle in conveying his character’s speech impediment but remains confined in its stilted emotional space.

Love Aaj Kal‘s Arushi Sharma goes with the flow and empowers Meenu’s unhealthiest instincts with yet another demonstration of Bollywood’s dangerously docile.

Despite cursorily written, one-note parts, it’s the supporting cast of unknown faces that rises to the occasion, proving themselves as the real jaadugars of the show.

Jaadugar streams on Netflix.

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