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Made in ‘Havan’, Jugjugg Jeeyo serves some solid lessons on marital vows-Opinion News, Firstpost

Jugjugg Jeeyo finely shares thoughts on the abuse of marital vows and how quickly they turn sour if left too long to dry in the sun.

At a certain very dramatic moment in director Raj Mehta’s Jugjugg JeeyoVarun Dhawan fills an ice bucket with water, strides towards his parents’ marriage havan as they are undergoing a re-marriage, and douses the havan fire, much to the shock and horror of the wedding guests.

Nice Punjabi boys don’t get drunk and misbehave at their parents’ wedding, do they?

Jugjugg Jeeyoa vastly enjoyable take on that eccentric, some would say outdated, institution known as marriage, questions the entire sanctity of the holy vows and just stops short of saying that the institution is irrelevant and obsolete.

As we already know from the trailer, this is a film about a Punjabi patriarch Bheem and his NRI son Kukoo both heading for a divorce at a time when there is a wedding in the family. Farcical on the idea level? What else can one expect from a film whose protagonists are named Bheem and Kukoo?

Anil Kapoor’s Bheem is a certifiable buffoon, the kind Salman played years ago in Varun’s father David Dhawan’s Biwi No.1, a film where Anil was cast as a sensible husband to the super-sensible Tabu.

Let’s just say Anil Kapoor in Jugjugg Jeeyo is Salman Khan from Biwi No 1, older but in no way wiser. Kapoor’s gleeful extra-marital affair with the femme fatale Meera (Tisca Chopra making so many faces she looks robotic) who, we are told, used to be Kapoor’s son Kukoo’s teacher in school, is deliciously crass.

A lot of energy is invested in the plot in trying to find out if Bheem is really in love with Meera or is he just a tharki (over-sexed old man)?

Anil Kapoor goes at adultery with a drooling delight, a carryover of the unfaithful husband he played in Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadkne Dowhile Varun Dhawan is remarkably restrained as the confused loser son who incidentally is also Kiara Advani’s wastrel of a husband.

Two deeply flawed men, father and son, and two marriages on the brink of a collapse make for an enormously engaging marital drama. Replete with subtle witticisms (for example, Anil Kapoor’s Bheem and Tisca Chopra’s Meera meet in an empty theater in Patiala screening Karan Johar’s super flop Kalank) and inured to a highly fey mood of marital discord, Jugjugg Jeeyo is that rare desi rom-com which allows room to question the traditional role of men and women in a marriage.

Neetu Kapoor’s Geeta, though in a marriage with a man who does not find his wife attractive anymore, is no long-suffering Bharatiya Nari. After a planned meeting with her Soutan in a temple, Naina turns to her daughter-in-law and asks, “Shall we have some wine?”.

The two women’s wine-drinking conversation by the lakeside is one of the film’s best takeaways. Neetu Kapoor, back after a long hiatus, is in fine form, giving to her betrayed wife’s roles shades of arresting acrimony.

Like other Karan Johar productions, this is one helluva good-looking film with every prop a sight for sore eyes. But it’s not just a visual feast. Director Raj Mehta has a lot to say on the abuse of marital vows and how quickly they (the vows) turn sour if left too long to dry in the sun. Varun Dhawan and Kiara Advani’s lengthy raw interesting but slightly self-conscious confrontation sequence lets the mutual bitterness spill out in welters of accusation.

The crucial confrontation lacks gravity mainly because Kiara Advani is no Sharmila Tagore in Basu Bhattacharya’s Aavishkar. She clearly has no clue about why marriages go wrong.

Varun Dhawan on the other hand, uses his boyish appeal to infuse his spousal act with a mix of bewilderment grief and anger. This is his best performance since Badlapur and in both he played a married man. Clearly, marriage suits the actor.

Jugjugg Jeeyo starts off as a routine rom-com. The rooftop drunken dialogue between father and son at the start is somewhat shaky and offkey. But as the narrative progresses the actors get into the groove and carry forward what many would say is an anti-marriage rom-com about a dysfunctional family.

In truth, Jugjugg Jeeyo tells us there is no such thing as a normal family, that in fact, every family is dysfunctional in its own way. Hence when Maniesh Paul, delightfully droll as Varun Dhawan’s brother-in-law Gurpreet, keeps complaining that his sister’s in-laws do not consider him a part of their family, what he really means to say is, there is no such thing as a welcoming family any more. What we have is individuals bound together by a collective need to be in a herd to protect themselves from extraneous attackers like Meera and Gurpreet.

Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based film critic who has been writing about Bollywood for long enough to know the industry inside out. He tweets at @SubhashK_Jha.

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