By Divya Unny May. 13, 2022
Jayeshbhai Jordaar is everything you’d expect from a Ranveer Singh performance. But while the charms work, the film can often become too loud for its own good. That doesn’t, of course, make it not worth your time.
Jayeshbhai (Ranveer Singh) is a young man living a dual life in Gujarat. He’s part of a family that believes in sacrificing female foetuses and celebrating the male child. His father (Boman Irani) is the primary propagator of this conservative mind-set. Jayeshbhai also adores his wife and daughter and believes this kind of discrimination is nothing short of criminal. The problem is that he cannot openly express his true self in front of his domineering father, and only his wife and kid know the man he really is. He nods along when his parents illegally demand to know the sex of his unborn second child, and celebrates when the doctor discreetly informs him that it’s a girl. Every day he fights a little battle, where he tries to protect his pregnant wife and 10-year-old daughter from grave mistreatment and abuse. The film is his journey from wanting better for them to exacting a small, but significant change around him.
This film spotlights an age-old but very prevalent practice that unfortunately still exists in India.
This film spotlights an age-old but very prevalent practice that unfortunately still exists in India. There are not one but many states in the country where female foeticide is rampant. We live in an India where on the one hand women are celebrated for their ideas and independence, and on the other girl children are killed in the name of tradition. Last year was apparently a ‘milestone’ where the country’s sex ratio climbed to a respectable 1020 females per 1000 males in India, but even today a minimum of one lakh female foetuses are aborted across the country. Why must this continue, the film asks?
Divyang Thakker, the writer-director of Jayeshbhai Jordaar chooses his own home state to set the story in and uses humour with umpteen theatrics to make his point. He isn’t preaching, but his characters’ mouth everything he wishes to say and we know this is a filmmaker with a voice. His protagonist is a colourful, vibrant, sensitive young man who defines every kind of machismo that usually gets celebrated among heroes in cinema. The plot is tight, with conflicts at every turn in a story that highlights the need to break some stereotypes against women and female children in India.
We live in an India where on the one hand women are celebrated for their ideas and independence, and on the other girl children are killed in the name of tradition.
The characters are pretty black and white here. Bapu and Baa (Boman Irani and Ratna Pathak Shah) play parents who are simply looking for a ‘kuldeepak’ (grandson) to take their family name forward. And Jayeshbhai with his young daughter Siddhi, in their own way, act as crusaders for change that needs to begin at home. The story unmasks the so-called patriarchs in Indian society who still don’t believe in educating their daughters, but are happy to get their sons remarried for the sake of a male child. Yes, for those living liberal, modern, free lives in urban spaces, the subject and setting may seem a bit remote but the fact is that so many girls are not allowed the right to a respectable life with equal opportunity and Jayeshbhai makes no bones about underlining this.
Jayeshbhai isn’t flawless in that sense, but there are many reasons to give this one a go.
Ranveer Singh is the beating heart of this film and once again transforms himself both physically and emotionally to play Jayeshbhai. This is the first time he’s playing a dad and is adorable at it. He sheds all muscle, both literally and figuratively, to get into the mind of a man who is helpless, but also doesn’t lose hope. Here’s a character who takes a long time to develop some real courage Ranveer plays it with absolute conviction. Jayeshbhai is loud, he’s dramatic, he’s too Gujarati for anyone’s liking and cries buckets and it works, because Ranveer makes it work. Watch him in a scene where he talks to a group of women about the importance of physical intimacy and you’ll see how Singh disappears behind dreams, and the life of the character he’s built. He’s a joy to watch. Boman Irani plays the antagonist to convincing effect but we have seen him on this side of the fence in too many films to be able to separate this role from those in 3 Idiots or Munnabhai MBBS. Shalini Pandey who plays Jayeshbhai’s wife Mudra plays her part earnestly and Jia Vaidya who plays his daughter is a charm to watch as well.
However, despite its intentions the film gets too loud and over-the-top at several points and it almost feels like a genre of cinema we have now outgrown. Music and sound effects have been used to drive every scene, and the film could have used a leaner, sober structure. Jayeshbhai isn’t flawless in that sense, but there are many reasons to give this one a go.