Despite Ranveer Singh’s powerful act, Jayeshbhai Jordaar fails to impress as a cinematic outing

Nonika Singh

Upholding the cause of the girl child, Jayeshbhai Jordaar certainly has its heart in the right place. Sadly, the rest of the film is all over the place. The first few minutes take us into a sex-determination centre. The fact that PCPNDT (Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques) Act prohibiting gender testing came into being way back in 1994 and given more teeth in 2003 is explained through a rider, which reiterates a couple of times how the test is illegal.

Rest of the narrative needs no explanation…It’s all about the right of a girl child to be born, told through first person account of Jayeshbhai Patel. We have Ranveer Singh as Jayesbhai living in a village in Gujarat, which seems to be caught in a time warp. Placing the story in a state from where comes our Prime Minister who has given us Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao slogan, we don’t know whether it is a brave choice, an underlying dig or simply foolhardy.

Of course, the affix Jordaar is a misnomer of sorts justifying neither the film nor its titular character. For here, Jayeshbhai is a timid husband and father who despite his belief in the right values just can’t speak up before his patronising father (Boman Irani), steeped in patriarchal values. Predictably, apart from enacting ‘wife beating’, he goes all out to ensure that his to-be-born second daughter does not meet the same fate as unborn six.

Hereafter what happens, him on the run with his pregnant wife (Shalini Pandey as Mudra Patel is the demure biwi) and nine- year-old daughter…is mostly farcical. Apart from the masquerade he puts up to fool his father, more antics are in order. We are introduced to a village in Haryana, the state once notorious for dwindling sex ratio.

So abysmal things were that men were left with no choice but to remain single or buy brides. Why the village named Ladhopur is the safest place for women beats us and the manner in which it is roped-in the storyline is as baffling as contrived.

The power of one to change the world could have led to a jordaar film. And with gifted actor Ranveer Singh, who never fails to impress, headlining the film, the impact ought to have been doubly more powerful. Like always, he is in total control of his act and the director resists the temptation of milking his superstar status. He remains in character in both demeanor and expression. Even though he is egged by his nine-year-old daughter Nisha (Jia Vaidya) to turn an action hero, he prefers to drive home the power of pappi, ahem a kiss (love), to change the world. But the final wrap up is far too convenient for any soul-searching moment.

A couple of scenes with his mother in the second half of the film have an emotive connect. Since the mother’s part is played by the versatile Ratna Pathak Shah, the change of heart is on the expected lines. Will the film change perceptions in a country fixated with male heir, well, we all have seen refreshing winds blowing even in ruralscapes. Not to say such regressive attitudes do not exist anymore or that illegal testing is still not rampant.

Yet the writing by the Divyang Thakkar, who has also directed the film, could have been more in sync with changing dynamics. The way it pans out, social messaging is too overt to touch a chord. And attempts to rake in humour, even in the scene where a battered wife slaps her unconscious husband, is far from rib-tickling.

If message alone maketh film viewing worth your time, go for it. Ranveer does make up for much that is lost in writing. But never mind his livewire act or dance to the tune of song Firecracker (music by Vishal-Shekhar) in the concluding titles, even he can’t make it a firecracker of a film.  

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