Do you guys remember the Luxembourgish series ‘Capitani’ I reviewed back in March 2021? The second part has just been released on Netflix. I’d planned on reviewing it this week and watched the whole series just to find out that it had gotten a bit too slow and predictable. So I decided not to.
Then I found that there’s another new sports drama from India on Netflix. I think we’ve watched one too many Indian sports dramas in the past few months but this one mixes magic with sports and love, hence the name ‘Jaadugar’ (‘Magician’).
Written by Biswapati Sarkar of The Viral Fever (TVF) fame and directed by Sameer Saxena, ‘Jaadugar’ features Jitendra Kumar in the lead role as Meenu Narang, a small-town magician. Now Neemuch in Madhya Pradesh is no ordinary town. In this football-crazy place people from different colonies compete in an annual tournament to win the most coveted Dhabolkar trophy.
Even though Meenu comes from a footballing family he is probably the least athletic person in town, with a deep disinterest for the global game. Unfortunately, he lives with his uncle Pradeep Narang (Javed Jaffrey) after his parents die in an accident. Pradeep is the passionate coach of a local football team from Adarash Nagar colony, ironically called the ‘Sikandars’. The team has not won a single match in years, and in the last tournament the only time they scored was in their own net.
In order to make it big as a magician and avoid football, Meenu meets and falls desperately in love with Disha Chhabra (Arushi Sharma). Now Disha turns out to be the only daughter of magician Chhabra (Manoj Joshi), Meenu’s inspiration and mentor. He now has to impress both the daughter and her father to be able to marry Disha. And long story short, father Chhabra puts up a condition that he will only agree to their marriage if Meenu’s team reaches the Dhabolkar trophy’s finals. How Meenu uses his magic and charms to try and take his team of misfits into the finals is what makes up the rest of the film.
Like most of TVF’s past productions, ‘Jaadugar’ is grounded and touches the roots of its setting. Even with the concept of magic embedded in its storyline, the film does not appear surreal. It keeps proceedings realistic, besides a few necessary scenes where a bit of gimmick is forgivable and even necessary. Biswapati Sarkar (look him up, please) is the true magician behind the film. Even in a lighthearted coming-of-age film, Sarkar manages to plant words of wisdom while not making life lessons overbearing for the audience. The writer, along with director Saxena, have also managed to capture the essence of a small town in Madhya Pradesh and the lives of the people there.
Even more popular as Sachib ji in the ‘Panchayat’ series, actor Jitendra Kumar punches the right weight in this film too. His strength is that he can easily blend into any given situation.
Although most of the cast puts up a convincing performance, the name Javed Jaffrey deserves a special mention because of the actor’s versatility. In the industry for almost two decades, actor Jaffrey always delivers. In ‘Jaadugar’, he is a former footballer, a passionate coach and a loving uncle. The actor adds both comic relief and serious intensity whenever required. He even gives himself a subtle speech impairment which is not immediately noticed but adds color to the character.
My only qualm is with the film’s length: 2hrs 47mins! As I could not chop off unimportant parts and disposable tropes, the film gets tiresome at times. The mind starts wandering because of the loose ends in the screenplay, editing and direction.
Who should watch it?
Despite its length and production that could be called a bit too organic, ‘Jaadugar’ is a good watch. People who have watched TVF productions or anything the team has ventured beyond TVF will most definitely enjoy the film. Even otherwise, ‘Jaadugar’ is a fun movie on Netflix for a lazy session when you don’t have to use too much of your brain.
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Sports drama
Director: Sameer Saxena
Actors: Jitendra Kumar, Arushi Sharma, Javed Jaffrey
Run time: 2hrs 47mins