Cast: Ritwik Bhowmik, Harshita Gaur, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Satyadeep Misra, Rajat Kapoor, Suneel Sinha, and ensemble.
Creator: Sudhir Mishra and Rajeev Barnwal.
Director: Rajeev Barnwal and Satyanshu Singh.
Streaming On: Sony Liv.
Language: Hindi (with subtitles).
Runtime: 10 Episodes Around 45 Minutes Each.
Jehanabad – Of Love & War Review: What’s It About:
In a land doomed by its caste politics and the class divide, destiny makes two lovers meet and the bad plan unfolds in their backdrop. Their love is haunted by the monster of the town and the evil game sucks them in.
Jehanabad – Of Love & War Review: What Works:
Star-crossed lovers letting their romance bloom with a backdrop of an underbelly of a town that breathes the air with all bad smoke has been one of the most favorite genres in Bollywood. The masters of it being directors like Vishal Bhardwaj (Omkara, Machhis) and Abhishek Chaubey (Sonchiriya, Udta Punjab). With the rise of OTT, the dynamic ended up having a more in-depth exploration. Now when Sudhir Mishra with Rajeev Barnwal attempts to bring the blueprint back in long format, will it still stand the test like it did in the past decade?
Written by Rajeev with credits for the screenplay, dialogues, and story with Mishra as the Showrunner, Jehanabad finds itself right in center of the conversation about the Naxalites, their fight against the system that has pushed the to the boundary, their gest to get justice for themselves by mending laws with their sheer dedication towards the cause. Amid them are these two star-crossed lovers trying to build a world for them first in it and then away from it (you will know).
The best part about Jehanabad – Of Love & War is how the makers choose to shape and place their characters. There is a girl so liberated in her way. She doesn’t shy away even once before talking about s*x in front of her conservative family. In a land so obsessed with its Manliness, she challenges the same masculinity. While it is not a decade one would imagine a woman like her to exist in a town as small as shown. Because it’s Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin playing on TV so it should be somewhere between 2003 to 2006. But with how organically the character blends you celebrate her existence.
Another such aspect is the portrayal of the Naxals or the rebels. Of course, they are of the Marxist ideology, but they aren’t uneducated at all. There’s a scientist, a lover of literature, and even a professor who is fighting the battle. This is such an amazing shift from the stereotypical portrayal that was stuck in time and memorial. While the latest release Kuttey too did justice but it never really explored that aspect of it much. The makers of Jehanabad try to shed light on how educated individuals take up all the wrong methods to fight for justice but it is the system that pushes them to that extreme. The fact that there are now resources and have-nots that are to an extent equipped but still pushed to the wall by the gatekeepers of caste and class politics is quite responsibly translated on the screen.
Jehanabad – Of Love & War Review: Star Performance:
Ritwik Bhowmik gets to play a character that sees a 180-degree transformation and is kind of challenging because he begins quite misguiding the audience and takes them on a tour with him. There is a shift in his character and I won’t spoil anything. But the actor does a pretty good job of playing the restricted professor and a lover in the first half. But the second half doesn’t allow him to bloom when you know the big twist. He gets one or two outburst moments but they aren’t enough to enhance that fold of his character.
Harshita Gaur as a rebellious girl in love is lovable. She flirts with the man she loves, and does anything to get him and even the most obnoxious steps. While it is a trait done to death in films, it doesn’t bother much. Parambrata Chattopadhyay can give any character a unique voice and this one gives him a playground to play, same is for Satyadeep Misra a cop who is corrupt enough for his good but also righteous.
Rajat Kapoor gets a stereotypical politician/uncle to play but it is the actor who manages to make him watchable.
Jehanabad – Of Love & War Review: What Doesn’t Work:
Jehanabad is not without loopholes and one cannot ignore how predictable it ends up becoming post a point. The fact that we have seen a wave of content in the same genre and I being a critic having watched almost everything, bothers me. For a viewer who is only opting for this one, it could be a different experience.
There is also confusion about how the blueprint of the show is laid. Yes, the structure is about telling you the crux in the first half and then turning the entire story upside down. But the makers disconnect the two parts to an extent where they seem like two different entities. The love story never blends into the background because they are not being affected or affecting the politics of the land. There are other means to blend the two softly before the hard twist but the makers chose to save that for the last.
Every episode ends with poetry that talks about freedom, independence, the cry for help, and the burning state of humans and even characters mostly Parambrata recite some in the scenes. But if this was an effort to make the product poetic, it doesn’t help. The poetry is even forgotten in parts. The lack of consistency makes you think about why did their introduce so much of it in the first place?
Jehanabad – Of Love & War Review: Last Words:
Jehanabad – Of Love & War is equal parts good and flaws that cannot be given a side-eye. If you can dodge the loopholes, you can give this one a try but don’t go in with too many expectations.
For more recommendations read our Taaza Khabar Review here!
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