Web Series Review: Jubilee : Bollywood News

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Web Series Review: Jubilee : Bollywood News

JUBILEE is the story of actors, actresses and filmmakers who ruled Hindi cinema in the 40s and 50s. The story begins in June 1947. Srikant Roy (Prosenjit Chatterjee) is a reputed producer who runs a film studio named Roy Talkies in Bombay. He’s married to the popular actress Sumitra Kumari (Aditi Rao Hydari). Roy Talkies is in a bad financial condition and to tide over the crisis, Srikant decides to launch a new face. This new actor will have the screen name, Madan Kumar. Srikant auditions several actors and he decides to sign Jamshed Khan (Nandish Singh Sandhu), a theatre actor from Lucknow. Sumitra falls in love with Jamshed. She reaches Lucknow to get him on board for Roy Talkies’ next production and also to spend time with him. Jamshed, however, is in two minds about accepting this offer. He wants to continue doing theatre and is also interested in an offer fromKarachi’s Khanna Theatre Company, run by Narain Khanna (Arun Govil). His son Jay Khanna (Sidhant Gupta) is on his way to meet Jamshed in Lucknow. On the train, Jay meets Binod Das (Aparshakti Khurana), a lab assistant at Roy Talkies and also Srikant’s confidante. Srikant has learnt about Sumitra and Jamshed’s affair. He sends Binod to Lucknow to get both of them to Bombay. He’s fine with his wife’s illicit affair with Jamshed as he needs the latter to save his studio. Sumitra, on the other hand, agrees to leave for Karachi with Jamshed. Binod meets Jamshed by assuming the identity of a fan from Kolkata. He even gives him a lift to the railway station. Jamshed realizes that he’s hiding his identity. He attacks Binod and as a result, the car meets with an accident. Binod, somehow, escapes from the car but Jamshed gets stuck. Instead of helping Jamshed, he assaults him. At this point, riots have broken out in Lucknow due to the news of the partition. The rioters spot Jamshed and they attack and thereby kill him. Binod reaches Mumbai and an infuriated Srikant slams him for failing to bring Jamshed to Mumbai. Binod, who always harboured the dream to act, gives a sudden audition to Srikant. Srikant is floored with his performance and launches him as Madan Kumar. Srikant’s financier, Shamsher Walia (Ram Kapoor), backs out as he doesn’t have confidence in Binod. After the partition, Jay and his family relocate to Mumbai as their theatre is burnt down in Karachi. Another person who shifts to the city is Niloufer Qureshi (Wamiqa Gabbi), a prostitute from Lucknow who was Jamshed’s favourite and who had charmed Jay as well. Niloufer infiltrates a high-profile event and gets into the good books of Walia. She sleeps with him and in return, Walia arranges money and accommodation for her. She bumps into Jay and both dream of becoming big in the world of films – Niloufer as a heroine while Jay as a director. What happens next forms the rest of the series.

 

Web Series Review: Jubilee

 

Atul Sabharwal’s story is fascinating and inspired by real-life people and incidents in the film industry. Atul Sabharwal’s screenplay is engaging and keeps the interest going. Some tracks, however, are unnecessary and the writing in the last part could have been stronger. Atul Sabharwal’s dialogues are sharp and also have a vintage feel. However, the phrase ‘Madan Kumar, B******d’ has been used too many times and after a point, it doesn’t induce laughter.

 

Vikramaditya Motwane’s direction is first-rate. To begin with, he has shown the bygone era beautifully. The series delves not just into the workings of the film industry but also the problems faced by refugees in camps after partition, USA and USSR trying to influence India to their advantage, etc. An interesting aspect that stands out is how piracy used to take place in those days. Thanks to JUBILEE, there will be an interest among the youth to know more about the films and actors of those times. A lot of real-life references to cinema are also mentioned in the film with the one on MUGHAL-E-AZAM [1960] sure to raise laughs and even eyebrows. There are several scenes that are memorable. A few notable ones are Shamsher and Jay’s confrontation after their first meeting, Sumitra Kumari dissuading distributors of her own film, Shamsher and Jay being hailed by audiences in a theatre, Srikant and Binod performing to a duet song to depict playback singing to Jotwani etc. The characters and their love-hate relationship with each other are also quite amusing and interesting. Also, to see Binod continuing to work as a regular employee for Roy Talkies even after delivering a hit makes for an intriguing watch. Lastly, this is a rare web series which mentions ‘interval’ at half point.

 

On the flipside, JUBILEE consists of 10 episodes and is quite lengthy. The makers could have done away with a few tracks. The first episode is very engaging as a lot happens in the first hour of the show. But a few episodes, later on, are slow and dragging. Hence, it doesn’t have the typical binge-watch factor. Some developments are not properly explained. Niloufer and Walia’s bond after a point gets forgotten. The piracy angle and how Jay’s film made money could have been shown in depth. Jay getting a nightmare of Jamshed seemed forced into the narrative. The USA-USSR track also will leave viewers confused, especially as to who is on whose side. Lastly, the finale might not be acceptable to all.

 

 

JUBILEE is embellished with some bravura performances. Aparshakti Khurana has the lengthiest role probably and is excellent. He gets to mouth very few dialogues and nicely lets his silence do the talking. Sidhant Gupta steals the show and is sure to benefit hugely from this series. Wamiqa Gabbi has a terrific screen presence. She nails it with her performance. She’s also fortunate to have been a part of the maximum number of songs in the show. Ram Kapoor is adorable and one can’t help but smile when he appears on the screen. Sadly, he gets forgotten at a crucial point in the show. Prosenjit Chatterjee impresses with his towering personality and suits the part. Aditi Rao Hydari looks gorgeous and gives a first-rate performance. But her screen time is limited. Nandish Singh Sandhu too doesn’t have a long role but has a crucial part and does well. Arun Govil and Shweta Basu Prasad (Ratna Das) lend able support. Chirag Katrecha (Naren Das) is wasted and his track serves no purpose. Sukhmani Lamba (Kiran) is a great find. The other actors who do a good job are Ajay Dutta (Hemant Ganguly; newspaper editor), Narottam Bain (Maqsood), Alok Arora (Raghu Jhalani), Aarya Bhatta (Jotwani), Suhani Popli (Meena; Niloufer’s friend), Vikas Shukla (Asghar Ali) and Ashok Banthia (Pratap Singh).

 

Amit Trivedi’s music is soulful and reminiscent of the music of the 40s and 50s. ‘Babuji Bhole Bhaale’ is the best of the lot. ‘Voh Tere Mere Ishq’ serves as a nice introduction to the character of Niloufer. ‘Chandu Naacha’ is cute and well thought of. ‘Dil Jahaan Pe Le Chala’ is memorable, and also features Amit Trivedi in a cameo. The other songs like ‘Udan Khatola’, ‘Ke Dekho Na Jee’, ‘Hum Do Kadam’, ‘Dar Ba Dar Fir Raha’, ‘Dariyancha Raja’ and ‘Naren’s Masterpiece’ are also tuned beautifully. Special mention should also go to Kruti Mahesh’s choreography, especially in the first two songs. Alokananda Dasgupta’s background score exhilarates the impact and also is in sync with the era.

 

Pratik Shah’s cinematography is first-rate and the use of silhouettes adds to the visual appeal. Aparna Sud and Mukund Gupta’s production design is rich. Shruti Kapoor’s costumes are glamorous and reminiscent of the 50s. Vikram Dahiya’s action is minimal and not too violent. Aarti Bajaj’s editing is weak as the show moves slowly. However, the way she has transitioned from one track to another at several places is praiseworthy.

 

On the whole, JUBILEE boasts of award-winning performances, soulful music, a fascinating plot about the film industry of the 40s and 50s and several well-executed and well-written moments. But it suffers due to the long length and slow pace. Nevertheless, it is sure to ignite discussion and become one of the talked-about shows of 2023.

 

Rating – 3 stars

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