2022 hasn’t been a kind year so far for Hindi film titles that begin with the letter J.
By Mayur Lookhar
Superstition has no place in objective journalism. But if the entertainment industry has its belief systems, who are we to question it. Earlier, this external faith was limited to prayers, rituals (coconut offerings) before mahurat (opening) shot. Filmmakers, producers even actors had their lucky charms. If a film succeeded, the deities across different faiths were all thanked.
In the millennia, faith in supernatural has acquired a more personal form. Astrology is fine, but numerology, too, has got popular. The additional letter(s) in a name or film titles cannot be missed. It may get difficult for journalists, private or government offices to remember the additional As or Rs, but all ought to be accommodated.
This writer recalls a little episode with a seasoned actor, who mostly plied his tricks on television. This happened a good 10 years ago. One fine day, s/he pinged us on facebook messenger requesting to attend an event organized by him/her. We duly obliged, and next day filed a story for the same. We sent him/her the article link, but s/he pointed out to add the additional letters in his/her name. We obliged but were intrigued as to how s/he insisted that we get the name right even in our FB chats from hereon. Phew, if not superstitious, how particular. It is a different matter though that s/he hasn’t really seen a revival in career. You can add as many letters in your name or content titles, but nothing can control destiny.
Producer, filmmaker Karan Johar is not quite in that league, but early in his career, his film titles all began with the the letter K – Kuch Kuch Hota Hai , Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham , Kal Ho Naa Ho , Kaal  – as producer, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna . Save Kaal, all others were hit films. Johar surprised all when his next production began with the letter D – Dostana . That was a hit film, and maybe it convinced Johar that success had nothing to do with numerology. Since Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna , Johar has produced few more titles beginning with letter K – Kurbaan , Kapoor & Sons , Kesari , Kalank . The second and third were hits, the others bombed badly.
Johar’s upcoming production is JugJugg Jeeyo  that is slated to release on 24 June. Maybe, the usual spelling is Jug Jug. Is the additional G in the second Jug due to numerology? Only KJo, as he is popularly called, would tell. We were intrigued by the lack of space between Jug and Jugg. To the zythophile eye, JugJugg resembles a normal pint jug (330 ml) rubbing nose with a bigger pint jug (500 ml). Leave aside the guzzling analogy, but it is a brewing trend that worries us. And what is that?
Film titles with J don’t come by the dozen in cinema. But 2022 is a year which has already seen nearly half a dozen such Bollywood titles in the first half of the year alone. It started with Amitabh Bachchan’s Jhund that released in theatres in March. Despite critical acclaim, the biographical film on an unheralded football coach [Vijay Barse] changing the lives of slum dwellers, hardly found any takers in the theatres. We reckon it is the finest Hindi film of the year so far, but the audience felt otherwise. Jhund’s failure led to the producer Savitha Raj Hiremath disappointed and she questioned why like The Kashmir Files , their film, too, deserved to be tax free. Jhund, too, spoke about discrimination.
After Jhund came Jalsa that released straight on Amazon Prime Video. A unique story, a unique genre – moral drama, the Vidya Balan-starrer film earned critical acclaim. But as with any OTT content, there is no independent body to determine the true viewership, success. Amazon Prime Video has fared extremely well in India. Its rumoured subscriber base in India has reached 18 million. Even if we assume that all 18 million subscribers viewed Jalsa, it still amounts to 1.8 crore viewers. But how many of these viewers would have paid Rs150-200 average ticket price, if Jalsa had released in theatres?
After Jalsa came the much delayed Jersey. The Shahid Kapoor-starrer is the remake of Telugu film of the same name. The original film was critically acclaimed and achieved modest box office success. The Hindi remake’s estimated budget was said to be around Rs100 crore. Largely panned by critics, the Hindi remake could only make Rs20 crore nett domestic business, as reported by BoxOfficeIndia.com. This despite a handsome 2350 screens. In a bizarre explanation, lead actress Mrunal Thakur was quoted as saying that maybe the remake failed because of the original. Phew!
Jhund and Jersey laid to waste, but then came the promising feminist satirical drama Jayeshbhai Jordaar. With Ranveer Singh in the lead, and backed by Yash Raj Films, exhibitors pinned great hopes on Jayesbhai to turn around the fortunes for Bollywood. Unfortunately, the film failed to live up to expectations. Largely panned by critics, Jayeshbhai turned into a disaster bagging only Rs16.59 crore nett in domestic business. The estimated budget of the film is said to be around Rs90 crore. Disastrous box office meant that the film released early on Amazon Prime Video.
The J jinx continued with Nushrratt Bharuccha’s Janhit Mein Jaari. Though it carried a vital social message, but its banal storytelling didn’t convince the audience. It is not to say that the additional r, t, c in her name haven’t worked. Prior to Janhit Mein Jaari, Bharuccha was appreciated for her showing in Chhorii  , that premiered on Amazon Prime Video. Before that she was part of two 100 crore hits – Dream Girl  and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety .
Phew, six months of the year are set to go by and we now have JugJuggJeeyo next. It has three Js, three Gs in its title. It is produced by Karan J-ohar. If the superstitious lot is to go by, then may be the J jinx could continue. But if three Rs in a title worked wonders for RRR  then maybe, JugJugg Jeeyo could very much beat the jinx. It first needs to clear a legal hurdle with the film mired in a copyright row. And it will take a court in Ranchi, Jharkhand to clear the decks. As per reports, it will be one Justice M.C Jha who will watch the film and pass the final verdict in the alleged copyright infringement case.
Argh, these Js are now beginning to feel like a J-igsaw puzzle. Here’s hoping truth prevails, parties resolve dispute amicably, and JugJugg Jeeyo hits the screens on 24 June.