Cast: Neetu Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Kiara Advani, Varun Dhawan, Maniesh Paul, Tisca Chopra and Prajakta Koli
Director: Raj Mehta
Rating: 2 stars (out of 5)
A family drama that sets out to be an all-out marital comedy but is unable to settle into a rhythm of any sort, Jugjugg Jeeyo is a tale of three marriages – one has lasted 35 years, another is five years old, and a third is days away from being solemnised. Complications arising out of mistakes, misgivings and mishaps hound all three.
If that sounds like a hysterical rigmarole with the potential to yield a laugh riot, only a small part of it is tapped and realised. Jugjugg Jeeyo, produced by Dharma Productions and Viacom18 Studios, employs garish sets, loud music, high-pitched dialogues and a bewildering screenplay in the service of a story about the pitfalls of marriages that drift.
The confounding ways of the plot, if one were to be charitable, approximate the confusions that confront the characters. As they try to figure out the pros and cons of marriage, they cannot seem to make up their minds about the utility of the institution. Certitudes elude them – and the script.
That mercifully isn’t the lot of the principal actors – Neetu Singh (returning to the industry after a long hiatus), Anil Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Kiara Advani and big-screen debutante Prajakta Kohli. They do well to keep pace with a film that has no room for pauses. As the tale hurtles along, the cast seems to be enjoying the ride. Their sustained ebullience rubs off to a certain degree on the narrative.
Jugjugg Jeeyo, directed by Raj Mehta and scripted by Rishhabh Sharma, Anurag Singh, Sumit Batheja and Neeraj Udhawani, is about an ageing man and his son. Their marriages run into rough weather even as their daughter/sister is all set to enter into matrimony. The family congregates in their Patiala home for the upcoming nuptial with a slew of secrets that soon begin to tumble out into the open.
One character tells another: “Dabaa ke rakhna theek nahi – emotion na motion.” Jugjugg Jeeyo takes that suggestion to heart and runs with a surfeit of just about everything that it can pack into its 150 minutes. That the film is overlong is not the problem. It is the clunky, exuberant overload that weighs it down way too frequently.
Raj Mehta’s previous directorial, Good Newwz (2019), also from the Dharma Productions stable, was about a couple struggling to conceive a baby. Jugjugg Jeeyo, which has the same tone and texture as his debut film, deals with two couples labouring to keep their marriage intact although members of the extended family lose no opportunity to remind the younger married woman, much to her consternation, that it is time for her to become a mother.
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham was all about “loving your parents”, Jugjugg Jeeyo is all about detesting your spouse. A wedding occurs within the first four sequences of the film. It is dealt with without much pomp (the reason for the low-key treatment: the film has bigger and fatter weddings in store).
Cut to five years later. The couple, Kuldeep ‘Kuku’ Saini (Varun Dhawan) and Naina Sharma (Kiara Advani), who fell in love when the boy was still in his knickers, have drifted apart even as they continue to live under the same roof in Toronto.
The lady is a hotshot HR professional on a roll in Toronto; the guy is a nightclub bouncer staring at a dead-end. The former has her career all sorted; the latter has no idea what the next day is going to bring. Regrets and recriminations drive Kuku and Naina to the brink of divorce.
The young couple agree to put off the announcement of their plans to separate until the wedding of the former’s sister Ginny (Prajakta Koli) is out of the way. The girl, too, has an issue or two to sort out before she gets hitched. And that isn’t all. It turns out that their parents, Bheem Saini (Anil Kapoor) and Geeta (Neetu Singh), a happy couple on the face of it, are no better off.
Laughter and emotions are the two principal elements in Jugjugg Jeeyo, which, after a relatively calm first half, dives into a tumultuous second half crammed with revelations and concealments. The men blame the women, the women do not suffer in silence, and the confrontations, especially between the younger couple, turn into shrill slanging matches.
When the war(s) of words erupts – the one between Bheem Saini and his resentful son quickly spirals out of control – mawkishness is never far away. Jugjugg Jeeyo goes the whole hog with the emotional overdrive and transmits contradictory signals on the theme of the man-woman relationship within the boundaries of marriage.
The secrets that the two married couples and the bride-to-be spring on each other sends the five-member family into a tizzy, with Kuku Saini’s best pal and brother-in-law Gurpreet (Maniesh Paul) and the boys’ math teacher Meera (Tisca Chopra in a cameo) adding fuel to fire.
Once the crises peak in the second half, the screenplay turns overly unwieldly. The untangling of the web of lies and uncertainties is a long-drawn, tiresome process of toing and froing designed not to let any one of the Sainis – least of all the wayward patriarch – to be seen in poor light. The balancing act takes its toll.
Neetu Singh is the only member of the cast who isn’t called upon to rave and rant. She strides through the film with striking poise, especially in the scenes that follow the character’s realization that her marriage might be under threat. Amid all the fulminations raging around her, she appears to be in a different galaxy.
Anil Kapoor in the guise of a man who takes too much for granted is able to convey a streak of recklessness and bouts of emotional blackouts with equal felicity. The younger actors around him, as always, are hard-pressed to keep up with him. Full marks to Varun Dhawan, Kiara Advani and Prajakta Kohli for trying.
Very broad strokes are the stock-in-trade of this film, which, of course, could go a long way in endearing it to segments of the masses. But do not expect any nuanced ideas to flow out of this battle of the sexes that loses quickly its way in a maze. As a cinematic ‘treatise’ on marriage, Jugjugg Jeeyo for the ages. Watch it. You might find it entertaining. But insightful it certainly isn’t.