Jayeshbhai Jordaar review: Jordaar is overstated as Ranveer Singh shows true strength lies in compassion, caring

Though it touches upon familiar social ills, the satirical feminist drama also draws attention to the objectification of men.  Flawless show by Ranveer Singh and child artiste Jia Vaidya.

Rating: 3 / 5

By Mayur Lookhar

Presiding over an eve teasing complaint by a teen girl, the sarpanch [village head] Prithwishbhai [Boman Irani] believes that the fault lies in the aromatic soaps that women use, which invariably attracts lusty men/boys.  So, he bans soap for the women in village. His hesitant son Jayeshbhai [Ranveer Singh] pacifies the girl saying “between fragrance and breath, you can only stop one.” The sane mind would wonder, what kind of ‘soap’ opera is this? 

Our mind crossed over to a shocking misogynist line by ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan who blamed western clothes for rising sexual crimes in his country. Khan believes that woman in purdah [veil] will not attract lusty men. Maybe for some, patriarchy lies in the genes, correction, jeans.. Keep the pun, geographical boundaries aside, but patriarchy reeks in every society. Remember how before the release of Mardaani 2 [2018], Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla had slammed the film for representing his state Rajasthan in poor light.  

While producers Yash Raj Films haven’t faced any political backlash this time, they’ve perhaps learnt how it is never easy to take a patriarchal malaise head on. Conventional films on such subjects are usually told through noir. A dash of humour can perhaps lighten the mood, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of undermining a serious issue.

Actor-turned-director Divyang Thakkar and Yash Raj Films bank on humour to tell their feminist satirical drama Jayeshbhai Jordaar [2022]. While it tries to lighten the mood, but it doesn’t make light of the grave issue of female infanticide.

Jayesh [Ranveer Singh] and his wife Mudra [Shalini Pandey] are worried over the fate of their unborn second child. Having had six miscarriages before, the Gujarati/Marwari couple isn’t prepared to let history repeat itself.

While there’s no novelty here, but it’s the troubleshooting methods that bring freshness to this story.  A well-crafted title, but if you go by its traditional meaning (strong), then you’re likely to miss the essence of the ‘jordaar’ here. Thakkar’s film subtly downplays machoism, the overstated virtues of manhood, power. And all this is done without any jordaar (strength) from its protagonist.  We’re reminded about that catchy line from Special 26 [2013] – “Asli power dil mein hoti hai” [True power comes from the heart].  Rephrase power to jordaar, and it sums the character of Jayeshbhai Jordaar.

Ranveer Singh can be molded into any character.  A Jayeshbhai is an antithesis to Bajirao, Khilji, Murad Ahmed, yet he is equally strong. True feminism doesn’t differentiate between sexes.  While there’s plenty of discrimination against females, but a Jayesbhai also draws our attention to objectification of men. This discrimination isn’t limited to any locale, for every society has set norms for men too.  Perhaps men in villages easily buy into the misguided virtues of patriarchy, manhood, masochism.

Ranveer Singh is happy to step into the shoes of a feeble, unassuming, understated character. But Jayeshbhai is not meek. The thin frame, regular mustache, plain hairdo mirrors the look of most traditional Gujarati/ Marwari men.  We’ve seen Singh in many shades, but Jayeshbhai is arguably the most humble and un-Ranveer like character.  If a Jayeshbhai walks besides you perhaps not many may recognize the actor at first glance.  Maybe the popular travel portal old ad was Singh’s unofficial audition for Jayeshbhai Jordaar. It was Ladies vs Ricky Bahl [2011] earlier, but out here Singh chucks the VS and merrily sides with all the ladies in Jayeshbhai Jordaar [2022]. For a non-Gujarati, Singh makes a sincere effort to get the Gujarati accent right.  A Jayeshbhai underlines how real strength lies in compassion, caring. Maybe, the good guy could have come in earlier for that would have prevented the tragic past.

The Jayeshbhai-Mudra relationship is such where the couple would look over to their shoulder before making eye contact. It highlights the culture in the house, where the suppressed couple is looking for freedom. Poor Jayeshbhai would strike you as the good Indian male who is trying to balance the relationships in his house. Singh’s flawless show helps bring a certain empathy and respect for Jayeshbhai.

Shalini Pandey makes the shift from South cinema to Hindi films. She shines for her screen presence and emoting the subdued nature of Mudra finely.  It’s no secret that women are also culpable in encouraging patriarchy. Scarred by the horrific past, the poor innocent lady tells her husband that its better that she leaves the house, as she can’t even give an heir to the family.  This is a couple who has a young daughter. They have their intimidate moments, but till date Jayeshbhai and Mudra haven’t shared a lip kiss. While the idea might seem far fetched in 2022, but the absence of this kiss reflects the nature of their mating. Clearly the woman only sees it as a means to give the family their heir. 

Ranveer Singh (L), Jia Vaidya (C) and Shalini Pandey (R)

So does this suggest that Siddhi [Jia Vaidya] is a child not borne out of love? If the old heads in the family are very conservative, then how did Siddhi come into being? A first mistake is pardoned, her grandfather Prithwishbhai tells nonchalantly. Perhaps Jayesh and Mudra only mustered courage seeing the feisty nature of their little daughter.  While it is not clear if the girl is given schooling, but Siddhi is a bright and tech savvy girl.  She is the real jordaar character in the house. You can’t take your eyes off Vaidya even for a second.

Boman Irani and Ratna Pathak Shah don’t convince much as the regressive elders of the house.  The patriarch Prithwish doesn’t like to be challenged by anyone inside the house or the village.  He’s got his daughter-in-law to be his remote-controlled new sarpanch of Pravingarh. Her task is to simply paste her thumb initials on any blank piece of paper. While his character is regressive, but Irani’s well-mannered nature, makes it tough for him to bring the viciousness of his character.  A problem with a satire is that tense moments threaten to build a dangerous scenario but it soon fizzles out in humour.  Both Prithwish and Jashoda [Ratna Pathak Shah] never have that intimidating factor around them.  

The director and the producer have deliberately kept lid on the state where the film or region is set.  Pravingarh is a convenient fictitious name.  More than any particular place, the film draws our attention to the conservative, regressive thinking in the Gujarati/Marwari belt.  And more than Gujarat, it is the state of Rajasthan and Haryana that are more notorious for patriarchy. Haryana is part of the film, but in a unique way.

Jayeshbhai, Mudra’s dream of running away to a utopian land of Laadopur in Haryana is refreshing. While the state is infamous for its heavily skewed sex ratio, but rather than talking about the age old menace, Thakkar projects Laadopur as a victim of patriarchy.  There are regions in Haryana with a large population of bachelors.  

Jia Vaidya and Puneet Issar (R) in a still from Jayeshbhai Jordaar [2022]

Laadopur represents one such place where the village head [played by Puneet Issar] and the many bachelor pahalwans [wrestlers] are shunning patriarchy, opening its doors for any victim.  Issar’s gentle, non-violent bachelor pahalwan is a far cry from his greedy, ambitious, powerful Duryodhan avatar from Mahabharat TV series [1988]. But you love him in this brawny, Gandhian-like avatar. Credit to Thakkar and his casting team for picking Issar as their chief pahalwan.  Thakkar’s Haryanvi’s pahalwans may be fictional, but through this disruptive representation, he wants to bust myths, and usher in a positive change in the state.  Make no bones about it, for all its patriarchy, Haryana still produces many sportswomen, athletes.

A Jayeshbhai Jordaar [2022] encourages government of India’s Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao programme. Wonder, will the central and other state governments ponder of making it tax-free then?

After an engaging first half, the screenplay experience few jitters. Perhaps the legal issue over pre-natal sex determination test scenes had its impact at the edit table too. No, we are not referring to the added ‘sex determination is illegal’ disclaimers.  Also, six miscarriages raise doubts about the principal characters – Jayeshbhai and Mudra. Yes there is repentance, but for a house that has a dark past, the general atmosphere seems pretty casual. This [miscarriage] count could have been lowered.

The events of the climax have their share of melodrama.  What remains consistent is the indomitable spirt of Jayeshbhai, Mudra and little Siddhi.  The film shines for its neat cinematography, minimal but effective background score in tense moments. The Firecracker track is no misfit here.

No jordaar, but Jayeshbhai delivers it message of compassion, care, openness. The soap reference is not incidental. A soap might just clear the dirt from your body, but Jayeshbhai Jordaar urges you to first clean the dirt from your mind and souls.

Watch the trailer of Jayeshbhai Jordaar below.


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