Film: Jabariya Jodi
Cast: Siddharth Malhotra, Parineeti Chopra, Javed Jaffrey, Aparshakti Khurana, Sanjay Mishra, Sheeba Chaddha, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Aarfi Lamba, Sharad Kapoor, Neeraj Sood, Mohit Baghel
Director: Prashant Singh
Rating: * * ½
Advertorials have been going to town about the ‘Pakadwa Shaadi’ aka forced marriage theme, central to this film but while watching, you realise that it’s more about the unresolved feelings between the two lead characters than about a social malaise meant as a counter salvo against unreasonable dowry demands.
Nowhere in the film do you find any strong indictment of dowry – rather it seems like it’s an acceptable practice and the characters involved are more resistant to coughing up much more dowry than they can afford and are equally willing to turn over that mini fortune to the renegade syndicate that kidnaps grooms for the brides in waiting.
We are dealing with a morally bankrupt scenario where Abhay Singh (Aaryan Arora) and Babli (Gurket Kaur), two children who developed strong affection for each other, were separated at childhood due to circumstance. They eventually meet-up when adults, and fall in lust, but Abhay (Siddharth Malhotra) has Daddy (Javed Jaffrey) issues to overcome before he can confess-up about his real feelings to Babli Yadav (Parineeti Chopra).
It’s a convoluted set up that gets entangled in father and son’s Jabariya Shaadi enterprise, co-mingling with the mixed feelings and aspirations of Abhay and Babli. Each try to force the other into marriage whilst also adding on more numbers to the Jabariya Jodis in Madhopur, Bihar, a few years into the millennium. The love story that comes to the fore after all that facetious posturing doesn’t really make sense.
As a child Abhay is the one pursuing Babli while as an adult it’s the other way round. Abhay wants to become an MLA and makes that his excuse (rather unbelievable) for not acknowledging love. And Babli suddenly claims, her love for her father (Sanjay Mishra) persuaded her to accept his choice.
Santo (Aparshakti Khurana), another dear friend, as her groom. In fact, the opening sequence highlights Babli’s go-getting aggressive nature, showing her beating up her reluctant lover – only to reverse it to a shrinking violet for much of the climax (which involves Abhay getting beaten up by his proposed father-in-law played by Sharad Kapoor, and his vengeful gang). The polish of high production values can do little to hide the confusion within.
The performances are solid – Siddharth and Parineeti manage to make their coupling matter while the support cast do a bang-on job. There’s also flippant humour to be had in all-too forgettable bursts – but the juvenile writing, Tedium inducing setup, the atrocious costuming and the corpulent treatment don’t allow for a close involvement!