In a world of pathetic attempts at making sports flicks, Netflix’s Jaadugar ranks as the worst!
How can a film that couldn’t be number one in the city where it was filmed become the most-watched flick in Pakistan? That’s the million-dollar question that would arise in every viewer’s mind after watching Jaadugar, the low-IQ, low-budget, and extremely low-quality flick that Netflix India released, for some reason. In a world full of sports flicks, this film will rank at rock bottom, because it failed to resonate with those who love magic, or football because in an attempt to combine the two, it failed to connect with either.
In Neemuch, a small town in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, football is the biggest sport, and every team that plays the game is good at it, except the Panthers, managed by a former local legend (Jaaved Jaaferi). When the going gets tough, he wants his nephew Meenu (Jitendra Kumar) to follow his dad’s legacy, but Meenu is as bad at football as he is in his studies. Instead of following his father and uncle, he becomes an amateur magician and starts falling in love at the same time, until his uncle’s team is asked to either start winning or be sacked as a team because of their dismal record.
The concept behind the film was good since it combined two different genres – fantasy and sports. Like an episode of The Good Cop, where technology was used to win a bowling competition, the makers could have used magic to win the football tournament but the scriptwriters were hell-bent on giving football more importance over magic, which shouldn’t have been the case. Arushi Sharma as the love interest of the protagonist was the best part of the entire movie because, before her entry, the film was sinking like Titanic, and she used her acting prowess to slow down the process.
Everything was bad about this film from the lead actor to the characters who were there but never looked the part. It was as if the makers forgot about the magic when they were shooting the film, and gave football their undivided attention. Jitendra Kumar might be a very good actor when it comes to TV or OTT platforms but he is no hero material and single-handedly sinks the film because he couldn’t carry it on his shoulders. He is there in nearly every scene of the film, which means nearly three hours; and even Johnny Lever would not have been able to pull such a stunt, after gathering so much experience. It might have been a brave attempt from the makers who thought turning a supporting actor into a leading actor would make their film succeed, but it backfired big time.
There was nothing worth remembering in the film except the opening, which seems to be the only part of the film where effort was put. After that, there is nothing to look forward to, especially the last half hour which would make you wonder whether you were in a trance when you chose to watch the film or not. Without any hit song to give the audience a breather, and an overdose of street magic, the film was bound to fail because the makers took themselves very seriously when in fact, they should have taken the script seriously.
It seems the characters were created keeping in mind that some of them might become popular or could be used in some kind of spin-off series, but with no direction to guide them, they all fell flat. The film itself ended with more questions than answers, which is never a good thing for any film, be it a sports flick, a fantasy film, or a mixture of both. There was no explanation given about Jaaved Jaaferi’s left leg which seemed injured somehow, nor was his stutter explained, something that his nephew somehow inherited from him in a crucial scene in the film.
And then there were the inconsistencies like Why did the girlfriend call Meenu when she knew he was at the registration? Why did her father ask Meenu to sabotage the game if he wanted to marry her? Why did the twins share the same name when they should have two separate names? Why did the goalkeeper move ahead of the penalty? If Meenu could injure a player to become a substitute, why didn’t he do the same thing to the opposition? How a guy with a defected left shoulder be selected as the main goalkeeper? And why was the Muslim goalkeeper made to look like a weirdo, as if he was a junkie waiting to for his drugs?
The Verdict: 1/5
Directed by Sameer Saxena, Jaadugar seemed like a TV crew’s attempt at filmmaking without any practice, experience, or desire. From the lead actor to the makers, everyone looked disinterested for some reason. It began as a comedy, turned into a sports film, and ended as a tragedy and in none of the scenarios was it impressive. If asked to explain the plot in one line, the audience will fail to do so, just like Meenu’s character did at football on screen.
It began well but then went downwards, and was so confusing that at one point I wanted to search the filmmaker on social media and ask him why he even bothered to make a sports film when he had no clue how to make one. Maybe they wanted to facilitate both the fans of fantasy and sports but in the end, they failed to impress both. For nearly three hours, I sat there, hoping that a twist would change the direction of the film, but in the end, it was the producers who ran out of tricks, just like their titular character who ran out of tricks. He didn’t know how to play football, and they didn’t know how to make a film!