JHUND (2022)

  • Release Date: 04/03/2022
  • Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Ankush Gedam, Rajiya Suhel, Angel Anthony, Karthik Uikey, Akash Thosar, Rinku Rajguru
  • Director: Nagraj Manjule

Jhund is a poignant and heartwarming underdog story that has the power to enchant you

— Ambar Chatterjee

I literally had to push myself to go watch Jhund even though every muscle in my body told me that this was going to be a great film. This is how much of a slave I have become to instant gratification and entertainment quotient in a film over the last two years. The fault is not only mine. It has a lot to do with the constant grind and pressure of the official life that most of the Indian middle class has to drudge through. When this middle class goes to a theater, the first thing it is looking for is easy, inspiring, and simple entertainment. The trailers of Jhund failed to convey the entertainment, pace, and thrill that I experienced while watching it today at a theater. The poor promotion of the film was one of the reasons why I thought it would be best for me to wait for this film to come to the OTT. I was wrong. Jhund is a film that is best enjoyed in theaters and it is meant to be seen without the distractions that OTT brings with it.

Jhund is based on the exploits of Vijay Barse who set out to uplift slum children using football as the medium. In the film, Vijay Borade (Amitabh Bachchan) is a senior professor in an elite college who takes interest in the kids that live in the slums that run parallel to his college and residence. He believes that these kids have a different facet to them than just being trouble and nuisance for society. He decides to do a little social experiment with them after watching them play football in the rain with a plastic bucket. What happens next not only fills Vijay with a sense of accomplishment and belief in the existence of quality in humans in the most unexpected of places but also changes the lives of a plethora of personalities that inhabit the slums that run parallel to the pristine existence of the more privileged.

I had more fun with Jhund than I had with any Hindi film off late. The story is simplistic. The screenplay ticks all the necessary boxes that a story like this is supposed to have. But what makes this film special is the amount of humanity and raw emotions Nagraj Manjule infuses in the tale using the different characters from the slum and by concentrating on their performances and mannerisms. This is in no way Amitabh Bachchan’s film. This film belongs to the kids who play the slum dwellers and it is their performance that sets the film apart and fills it with the emotions and drama that runs deep in its core.

The towering Amitabh Bachchan often takes a step back and lets lesser actors take center stage. It is his greatness that lets him allow someone else to steal his thunder from time to time. By doing this he is able to create the right ambiance for his character to momentarily pitch in and elevate a particular scene with his deft touch. This not only holds the storytelling of the film in good stead but also adds a dash of charm that the great actor has been adding to every role that he has played over a long and illustrious career. Bachchan is perfectly suited for the role and he has the kind of aura that justifies the rambunctious kids listening to him and following his orders. His dealing with the kids is characterized by the kind of warmth and authority that instantly makes his rendition of the character enamoring and inspiring.

Ankush Gedam as Don is in many ways the protagonist of the film. He has the meatiest role among the kids and he does a phenomenal job with the character. His character is involved in all sorts of dubious activities. As he starts playing with the others under Borade’s guidance, he gradually slips away from his criminal ways and starts valuing an honest existence. Sadly, the life that he was trying to slip away from constantly keeps popping up in the new life that he is trying to forge for himself resulting in some thrilling moments. He has to face some of the toughest ordeals to make the transition from a crook to a soccer player. I loved how Nagraj Manjule envisioned Don’s character and laid out his entire track. Some of the symbolic representations that he uses to communicate the changing facets of Don’s life were subtle but poignant. I just loved the scene in the airport where we finally see Don transform into the man that Borade wants him to be. The way he does it nearly made me cry.

As is the case with Don, Manjule uses other characters to put out different problems that the poor and the downtrodden face in coming up. One of the characters, Monica (Rinku Rajguru) needs a passport but is unable to get one as she cannot prove her existence. We see her father incessantly complain about their predicament in their native tongue. There are no subtitles in these portions. However, his mannerism and the chemistry between the two characters is such that I was rolling on the floor laughing even though I didn’t understand a single word of what he was saying. I got the drift of the man even without understanding what he was saying literally and it was hilarious.

One of the girls is a mother of three and doesn’t have the blessings of her mother-in-law to go ahead and participate in an international tournament. Her husband who had for so long not been the perfect husband realizes his folly through the duration of the film and turns into his wife’s benefactor. The most interesting development of a character is that of a man who was about to commit. He somehow lands up in a tournament that is being conducted by Vijay Borade. He volunteers to play as the goalkeeper for a side that doesn’t have one and from there goes on to get selected for a world tournament. The film is peppered with innumerable poignant and heartwarming moments involving colorful characters that are brimming with life and all that life brings with it.   

The cinematography of Jhund is one of the best that I have seen in a Hindi film of this nature for a while. The slums are as much of a character in the film as the characters themselves and cinematographer Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti gives the slums the character that it deserves through his imaginative and poetic capturing of the mundane. I loved how Yakkanti used the visuals to repeatedly explain and show the divide between the two facets of society. I loved how he was able to capture the pace of the life of the kids by following them with an unhinged camera. I loved how the editing of the film in many sequences complemented the background score and the visuals complement every beat of the music. I loved how Yakkanti used slow-motion shots, to sum up, or emphasize some of the most important moments that Manjule wanted the audiences to take special notice of. For a film that is 3 hours long, Jhund felt fresh and refreshing throughout and a lot of it had to do with the kind of visuals and technical finesse that the team brought to it.

To sum it all up, I urge all my readers to definitely watch this film atleast once in theaters. If you want to absorb every aspect of it and also the spellbinding visual and technical wizardry of it, I am sure you will have to watch it more than once. I would advise you to watch it on the biggest screen possible with the crispiest sound system. You will be moved to tears by this film and its many characters. I guarantee it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.


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