Critic’s Rating : 3.5 / 5
Jersey Movie Review : A well-pitched father-son drama
REVIEW: This official Hindi remake of the Nani-starrer Jersey (in Telugu), which also won a National Award, tracks the journey of a domestic star cricketer who opts out of the sport at the peak of his career. Gowtam Tinnanuri, who helmed the original and has directed the remake, too, takes the non-judgemental and an emotion-soaked route to narrate Arjun Talwar’s story from the dressing room, to social dressing down and back into the dressing room where he feels he truly belongs. Without ever playing the victim, the character, played by Shahid Kapoor, is easy to associate with.
The distinguishing factor of this sports drama lies in the fact that the protagonist does not take off on a journey of self-redemption or one of achieving a goal to prove one’s worth to him or herself while making a strong statement. This one’s about a father, who plunges back into the sport, knowing it can be detrimental to his very existence, only to remain a hero to his son and wife and to fulfill a little wish his child has.
Arjun’s journey is also one of defying odds – he’s not easily accepted back into the fold, he doesn’t have age by his side, and with every step of the way, his position at home, especially in the eyes of his wife, slips. Shahid impresses when he’s on the crease but he’s even more impressive when he’s struggling to get back to it. Mrunal Thakur, who plays Arjun’s practically-thinking and earning spouse, Vidhya, is just as relatable a character as is Arjun. Her love, her mounting frustration, fear, hope, confusion have all been presented well. Both of it is courtesy of powerful writing and an internalised performance by Shahid and Mrunal. Shahid’s preparation for playing the cricketer in the film are evidenced in the manner in which he holds his own when he’s on the pitch.
One of the emotional high-points of the film is the camaraderie Pankaj Kapur shares with Shahid and the nuance with which he plays an aging assistant coach. It’s affable and wonderful to see the comfort with which they switch between sharing the father-son vibe and a friendly-banter. Kittu, played by Ronit Kamra, is the lens through which the filmmaker, and hence, the audience, sees Arjun’s story unfold. His chemistry with Shahid is palpable.
In the technical departments, the gaming portions have been shot and choreographed well. The depiction of the passage of time between the years when Arjun is a star player, when he’s sworn to stay off the field and when he gets back into the game have all been depicted with finesse. The change in Shahid’s body contours, the presence and absence of freckles on his face, and his body language have been put to good use. Ditto for Mrunal. In terms of writing and direction, the film packs in a lot for its 174-minute run-time. The humour and emotionally-stirring moments stem from the core of the characters and what they have chosen to do. Each of the primary characters has an arc of his or her own. Cinematography by Anil Mehta and Sachet-Parampara’s music also add to the package. The film’s production design deserves a special mention for effortlessly presenting the time periods that this film travels through.
On the flip-side, the pace of the film is a tad sluggish, overall. Also, sometimes, you do find Arjun’s hurdles vanishing just before you see him struggle enough to get past them. One could have done with a few more opportunities to cheer for Arjun’s character in the course of the runtime. Even though this is a sports-led drama, you don’t quite encounter too many of those nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat moments, though whatever you see engages you, especially if you have not seen the original. This film leans more on emotional drama, while it could have struck a finer balance between the sports and the human drama.
If you’re expecting nail-biting cricketing moments, you’re probably going to be a tad disappointed. But if you’re game for an inspiring and moving father-son story, this one’s totally worth your ticket.