Jaadugar (2022) Netflix Review: A three-hour long tirade that feels like a prolonged skit
During an interview, Chaitanya Tamhane (the director of ‘Court’ & ‘The Disciple’) mentioned his fascination with magic. Magic is mostly about creating a successful illusion and a great play between reality and fiction. A good magic trick becomes successful in the game of make-believe the way a good film does. The parallels between these art forms confounded him, and his fascination for both nurtured a fruitful thought process in him. With the new 2022 release – Jaadugar, streaming on Netflix, its makers try to find a similar connection between the two art forms. With its narrative, they attempt to capture such magic through its almost three hours of runtime.
The film’s protagonist is an aspiring magician who is obsessed with the art of trickery. Yet the situations in his life make him take different turns where his skills and understanding of magic are required to be put into action in the real world. Played by Jitendra Kumar (known for his continuing collaborations with TVF), Magic Meenu is a small-time magician from a town in Madhya Pradesh called Neemuch. He doesn’t seem to have any prospects, and his girlfriend is the only factor dear to him besides his art. However, the love of his life, as he likes to call her, remains inconsequential to him in a larger context. He cares very little besides getting social validation by virtue of having a girlfriend.
Besides that, we get to know the story of his father – a well-known local football player who had an untimely death. An added pressure to follow in his father’s footsteps falls upon him while being extremely weak with his sports skills. Such a protagonist is made to understand the value of love and the lengths one must go to earn it. More than making loud and empty gestures, Meenu needs to learn how he can make someone feel important and valued.
Besides getting into the ideas about romance shared by pop culture, he works on understanding what true love means. At least, that appears to be the intention of the film’s makers with his character arc. His growth as an individual from a relatively self-obsessed person to a caring one (caring about others besides him) becomes the driving force of the story from Jaadugar.
Unfortunately, with its long and tiring runtime, the Netflix film manages to achieve very little and relies heavily on the Bollywood cliches. Directed by Sameer Saxena, written by Biswapati Sarkar, and starring Jitendra Kumar, Jaadugar has its roots in TVF. While the popular YouTube channel created a variety of entertaining content and pioneered the web-series format in India, the film just does not follow the grammar of a skit.
While the humour and gags felt fresh and impactful in their videos and shows, the same become stale in the context of a film. And when there is negligible character development, the ornamentation feels unnecessary. Indulgence can work if creators are aware of its relevance to the entirety. Whether indulgent narration is fruitful to point across more effectively matters just as much as any other thing. In the case of Jaadugar, most of it remains to be instantly forgettable.
Besides the already mentioned reasons, there might be other factors causing the film’s low impact. Jitendra’s lead performance is one of them. While he impressed many people, including me, with his performance from TVF Pitchers or the more recent Kota Factory, he has become repetitive. There is rarely any defining factor in his performances for the roles he has played so far. Even when he tries to win you over with his goofy earnestness, it does not capture the nuances necessary to elevate the film. Other characters feel inconsequential since they seem more like caricatures.
Related to Jaadugar – Chaman Bahaar (2020) Netflix Review: A Docile Paanwala To An Enraged Lover
The influence of skits becomes apparent in this aspect where the same characters would have worked significantly better in a comedy sketch. Since a majority of Jaadugar feels more like a compilation of amusing skits, and romantic tracks, peppered with some exciting sports action, the film becomes a tedious mess with very little substance. Besides being overly influenced by Bollywood storytelling, the conventional narration worsens the impact of the overall film. Jaadugar, as a result of much of this, becomes too tedious to engage with its romance, comedy, or to take its sports drama seriously.