Jaadugar review: Jitendra Kumar’s comedy is exhausting in baffling Netflix film

Magician, Netflix India’s latest original film, is truly a shocking film, however you choose to slice it. For one, it is the debut of Posham Pa Pictures – the new production company formed by the OG TVF gang. After some sort of internal shakeup, some of the leading creative voices who have made TVF what it is today, left to start their own organization. Directed by Sameer Saxena and written by Vishwapati Sarkar, Magician is the first feature film of that new venture. Biswapati Sarkar, Nidhi Bisht, Amit Golani, Sameer Saxena, Saurabh Khanna – the well-known names behind this film are the same core creative team that produced TVF gems like Humorously Yours, Yeh Meri Family, Permanent Roommates, Tripling and the first season of Kota are responsible. Factory, Hostel Days and Panchayat, to name a few. Read also: Ranveer Vs Wild with Bear Grylls review: Actor cries, eats maggot, remembers Deepika Padukone

Despite being packaged as a light, feel-good-coming-of-the-edges-oh-and-if-a-sports romantic comedy, The Magician works better as a mystery thriller. And there are many secrets to unpack here. First – how and why tried and tested such talented storytellers made such a film. What were they going for? Or the mystery of why anyone involved thought a slow-burn 3-hour light comedy on streaming was a good idea. Or – perhaps the biggest puzzle of them all – what the plot really is.

It’s not easy to distill a plot’s headcatcher into a few lines, but I’ll do my best. It is about a magician who has to choose between his hatred of football and the woman he loves. Or perhaps a reluctant footballer who must choose between his love of magic and his true love? Or a lover who has to choose between magic and football? It’s essentially three hours of “pick a card, any card, not that card, oh wait it’s a yellow card, no it’s a red card” to finally print a wedding card. Basically, in Posham Pa Pictures’ office, there is a whiteboard with Venn diagrams with “Football”, “Stage Magic” and “Love Story”, whose random unlikely intersections were used to make sense of this script.

The magician is located in the small town of Neemuch. In the film world, it is a football-obsessed community that is responsible for producing most of the national level players. Some even believe this is where Maradona secretly comes from, we’re told. Meenu (Jitendra Kumar) comes from a football family. His late father and his uncle Pradeep (a credible but directionless Javed Jaffrey, here armed with an inexplicable stammer) were all football legends. Naturally, there is tremendous pressure on Meenu to follow in his footsteps and join his uncle’s team to compete in the local football tournament. (Think of every quintessentially TVF young-person-forced-engineering narrative, but instead of engineering here, it’s … football). But the menu has none of this. He hates the game with a passion and believes it kills his father. (It’s important to note here that, despite what you might think, the menus are pretty terrible at play). Instead, his passion lies in performing and dazzling as an amateur stage magician.

The film’s opening phase (which is also its most watchable) builds up to a sweet, endearing world of humor and warmth. I’m not exactly sure when this happened, but somewhere along the way, it becomes clear that the movie doesn’t know where this is going. Or maybe it’s okay with the idea that it’s going everywhere. I was with it until it introduced Disha, the new handsome doctor in town, who becomes the object of Meenu’s love (a confident Aarushi Sharma who refuses to be reduced to a narrative device). . I was with it until (through so many complicated incidents that are not worth attending) we realize that the only way for Meenu to stay with Disha is to win the city’s football tournament. This is the key to that “oh well so this is the story, I get it now” moment. Except that there are 80 minutes in the movie. But even then the magicians still can’t decide whether it’s the age-old story of a selfish man learning to put others first or a team film in which the underdog comes together with an unlikely group of misfits. in order to realize what they were missing. other. I feel? Like I said, mystery thriller.

What is clear, at its core, Magician is a love story, and follows Meenu’s journey to see how far she is willing to go for her love of Disha. But it is the hollow film Pyaar of the most unbearable kind, with lavish romantic gestures, multiple lip sync songs, and a tonal one that spans a decade. Along the way we get so much “true love” wisdom – including but not limited to “pyar is magic (love is magic)” and “jaadu mein pyar hai (there is love in magic)” – that it aspire to do. die alone

At the heart of the magician is the leading man responsible for tying the film’s many worlds together: Nilotpal Bora’s assault-on-the-sense score that doesn’t stir up emotion as much as it lulls emotion down our throats. It’s the background score that’s the equivalent of finding myself sitting next to that aunt in the cinema theater who cries inexplicably at every stale joke and at the smallest mention of emotion it seems as if her life is on her. dependent, causing anything that appears on the screen to be drowned out. The “tear-jerking” dramatic scenes of various characters throughout the film are particularly unbearable.

And then there is Jitendra Kumar, who is undoubtedly in almost every frame. Even the most talented actor would struggle to do comedy for 3 hours. But the magician goes a step further and becomes an unintelligible display of all of Jeetu’s now-familiar tricks as an artist, especially when faced with lifeless writing. It’s also a film that breaks up a vanity project—with an entire narrative built around a single actor, with the whole purpose of showcasing his range. I imagine this is how the let-a-star-kid meeting comes down to the top production houses: “We’ll make sure we show that our hero can sing and dance and come up with comedy and drama and romance. Can do.” Jeetu has an unshakable presence and charm and there are moments when he shines (like in a funny but heartfelt scene where he proposes to Disha for the first time). But for the most part, despite his efforts, Meenu is an objectively unbearable character that is nearly impossible to root.

Sadly, there’s so much promise here — wonderfully sweet worlds, lovable middle-class-family humor, that real attention and dimension are given to the other characters on the team (with a hilarious look as Meenu’s leather-jacket-clad insurance agent). To do Raj Kushal) friend, especially). But capturing either of those aspects in the midst of such painstaking, directionless narrative is next to impossible.

A film that feels the equivalent of watching a beloved stage magician who inexplicably breaks his act and jumps from confusion to TED talk, stand-up routine, and ends with spoken poetry. As long as we sit there, tired and confused, thinking that maybe he has finally run out of tricks.

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