Starring Siddharth Malhotra, Parineeti Chopra
Directed by Prashant Singh
For a film that has not been shot Bihar/Patna at all, Jabariya Jodi gets the details right, including place names and even random public places. Also everyone is shown drinking all the time in ‘dry’ Bihar, although there is a passing reference to alcohol-free Bihar. But what the ‘hic’.
Groom-kidnapping, which forms the crux of this splashy, gaudy, riotous saga, is no more that prevalent in Bihar. But you know what? Jabariya Jodi is nonetheless an endearing slice-of-laugh raucous ode to rusticity with the lead pair and supporting cast hellbent on having fun. So who are we to resist?
The film wraps its head in a swirl of mischievous mayhem, making the whole cult of anti-dowry groom-kidnapping syndrome seem like a cauldron of conflicts simmering in a scintillating seductive stratosphere. The director knows how to control mob incidents. He plunges into rumbustious wedding events to wiggle out the ironies that control such festive opportunities.
In an all-out image-building exercise, Siddharth Malhotra plays Abhay Singh a loud aggressive overdressed Bihari lout whose family business is groom kidnapping. Abhay has his own bullying issues with his father (Javed Jaffrey, intimidating). The whole nexus of violence greed abduction and seduction spirals its way from Abhay’s character into a kind of edgy out-of-the-box anti-romance between Abhay and the village bombshell Babli (Parineeti Chopra) who has tried everything to get away from her smalltown ennui. Babli is Kriti Sanon in Bareilly Ki Barfi, Kareena Kapoor in Jab We Met and Parineeti in Hansi To Phansi.
She can’t be controlled. Though her story can. And is.
The two principal actors have a whole lot of infectious fun with their parts. The writing gives them a chance to banter without the fear of falling. The free-fall feel is amply supported by the dialogues which are sharp and naughty. In one sequence someone reads out the item ‘haath gadi’ in an elaborate dowry list.
“Haath ghadi (watch),” corrects a know-all.
Writer Sanjeev K Jha knows his Bihar and director Prashant Singh knows how much the actors can be pushed into shaping the final destiny of a film that falls short of story-content somewhere midway. In the second-half the narration tends to get repetitive and more than a a little petulant.
Malhotra as the groom-whisking goon tries very hard to blend into the smalltown environment. His efforts hit some right notes specially when ‘Babli’ Parineeti get too cuddy-feely for his comfort.
There is a prevalent chaos in the mood of this know-your-Bihar-on-google smartass fable of fiscal avarice masquerading as social service. It is an opportune subject to allow its two principal actors to shed their urban plumes and strut in an entirely different environment. Malhotra and Chopra do well, though their urbane personality keeps impinging. The supporting cast is impressive, though not in an exceptional way, specially Aparshakti Kapoor as Parineeti’s on-hold love interest Santo, Chandan RoySanyal as Siddharth’s right-hand man, Sanjay Mishra as Babli’s empathetic father and Shiba Chadha (wish there was more of her) as Siddharth’s oppressed mother.
The climax at a wedding where everyone is shooting at each other seems to go out of control. But otherwise director Prashant Singh does an admirable job of controlling the riot of colours, sounds and flamboyant visuals that assail our senses in a film about Bihar which is not shot in Bihar.