Jhund, despite his grand ambitions and good intentions, he cannot be the only, fascinating whole.
In 2016, Amitabh Bachchan starred in a Hindi film in which he towered over Taopsi Pannu, Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tarian. PinkBachchan’s advertising promotion may have attracted audiences in cinemas, but the film itself, despite its character’s erroneous spelling, still focused on three women who oppose sexual predators. Moving away from most Indian commercial cinemas about violence against women, Bachchan played an ally rather than a central figure in Pink.
Marketing with Jhund (The herd) also revolved around Bachchan: a teaser showing a bunch of young people beating a storm on everyday things turned into percussion instruments to herald Bachchan’s arrival in the frame; a poster in the foreground with a giant image of a star, and in the background in a diminutive and affectionate form – a lot of characters; trailer with the caption “starring the legendary Amitabh Bachchan”. Unlike Pinkhere the promotional material is not a completely inaccurate representation of the film itself.
Writer and director of the Papatrao Manjule Award Jhund intends to attract the attention of a group of poor and / or young Dalits who are moving away from crime, alcohol and drug addiction if a local scholar uses their instinctive talent for football. In his style of storytelling, Jhund it is an experiment that is rare in Indian cinema and therefore deserves praise for its riskiness. However, it varies in the image of the Dalits. Despite some interesting moments with his ugly team of athletes, Jhund it is an “Amitabha Bachchan film,” even if not in the usual sense.
JhundThe focus on Bachchan is striking because Manjule, otherwise one of India’s best directors, is known for his attentive views on the concerns and activities of his Dalit heroes. In his debut science fiction film Fundra, he focused on a teenager who lives on the outskirts of rural society and is in love with a girl from a higher caste. З Sairat, he gave us an equally strong Dalit man and a woman of higher caste who are in danger because they are in love with the caste society. Manjule’s filmography has so far been Marathi, except for short films in Hindi Vaikunt in the anthology Installed by: Naya Safar (2022). Jhund this is his first feature film in hindi.
Here Bachchan plays Professor Vijay Barade, who is on the verge of retirement. Beard teaches at Nagpur College, which caters to high-class students, while in extensive slums near their peers indulge in petty crimes to survive. The wall that separates these two groups of people, literally and figuratively. A good professor, modeled on real activist Vijay Barsa, is the only one who prevents him from moving in.
One day Beard notices young slum dwellers playing soccer with a can, and realizes that this sport can save them from a hard life. Jhund describes his efforts to conquer them, the change in their priorities caused by this new interest, and what he goes for to help them emerge from marginalized existence.
Obviously, Vijay Bars is an inspiring person. This review does not claim that he is not worthy of a biopic, but it should be noted that modern Hindi cinema – unlike Marathi – almost never shows the main Dalit characters suffering from poverty, in scenarios with the Dalit main characters it is difficult to get money. and so it’s no surprise that Manjule unfortunately chose this particular story for his Hindi debut.
Having said that, even in a movie like Jhund, there should be an opportunity to create an ensemble of distinctive characters that will remain the same identifying and memorable as the lead actor. Although not in the context of the caste, Shamit Amin managed it with the women’s hockey team Chuck De! India although it was unmistakably centered around their male coach, played by Shah Rukh Khan.
У Jhund, except Don, aka Ankush Masram, played by Ankush Gedam, none of the other recruits of Beard gets a well-defined description. Russia (Raji Kazi) is primarily for her, but we can never look into the soul of this woman.
Here is another, when the most memorable aspect of the characters from the slums in the film are their funny quirks, their eccentricity and color in their faces. Manjule, who created such beautifully decorated people for his Marathi films, seems to have liked the poor Dalits in Jhund for Bollywood taste, which is an inexplicable choice, as its ultra-restrained tone of narrative here is far from everything a Bollywood audience is used to.
After a while, JhundThe shot at true realism becomes indulgent to such an extent that it becomes sad. Manjule seems to be trying to achieve a hybrid of fictional reality, realistic storytelling, deep observation mode and documentary flavor in Jhund but can’t get there. For an example of a modern Indian film shooting this amalgam, see Kunzhil Mascilamani was recently released Asanhadytar (The Unorganized), based on a true saga of female saleswomen in Kerala fighting for easy access to toilets and necessary work breaks, which is part of the Malayalam anthology The struggle for freedom.
JhundThe duration of 178 minutes was even more threatening due to the insertion of Ajay-Atula songs, which are not close to the hypnotic soundtrack for which the duo created Sairat. There is even a faint attempt to repeat ‘Zingaat‘s’ energy with Lafda Hall – composition and illustration – art Jhund.
Manjule also demonstrates a disturbing understanding of relationships when he considers even the unpleasant relationship of men from slums to women – their teammate who becomes a joke about a shirtless, and the glamorous rich woman Ankur falls in love with – as cute, and a comic element in his script.
One can’t help but love Bachchan’s Jhund, and it is interesting to see his older, restrained interpretation of the youthful, cruciform Vijay from the 1970s and 80s. It’s an excitingly controlled performance, but Manjule is tempted to give his star an unnecessary speech about the need to raise marginalized communities, and never lets us forget that this privileged man is the leader of the poor lower caste in the film.
The speech could be justified if the film worked completely, but not if, in retrospect, what is left of this almost 3-hour lesson is one well-filmed football match between slum dwellers and posh students, and the culmination of which we can really and truly see – in fact see – the inner Ankush. Gedam, for the record, is excellent, and Ankush deserves his own film.
Bollywood for decades has largely ignored the caste system, with similar Masaan, Article 15 and Pareeksha remain few. Jhund important in this context because it makes caste, marginalization, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and the slogan “Jai Bhim”Is the coordinating topic of his conversation. It is a pity that, despite his grand ambitions and good intentions, he fails to unite as a whole, exciting whole.
For a film that understands caste and mediocrity, and has intelligence, heart and soul, I would choose Niraj Gaiwan’s film Jelly Pucci from last year’s Hindi anthology Ajeeb Daastaans any day over this too long, ultimately, pretentious film from Manjule.
Rating: 2 (out of 5 stars)
Jhund will hit theaters on Friday, March 4, 2022
Anna MM Vettikad is a laureate of awards, journalist and author of the book “The Adventures of a Fearless Film Critic”. She specializes in the intersection of cinema with feminist and other socio-political issues. Twitter: @annavetticad, Instagram: @annammvetticad, Facebook: AnnaMMVetticadOfficial
Impressed by Bachchan Award Manjule sweetly gives poor Dalits a taste of Bollywood – Entertainment News, Firstpost
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