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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



Jabariya Jodi, First look: Swinging infection

Jabariya Jodi, First look: Swinging infection

Jodi, literally, means a pair, in Urdu and Hindi. It also refers to husband and wife. Jabar or jabr is force, and jabariya, by extension, means forced or forcibly formed. So, we now understand the title of the upcoming film Jabariya Jodi to mean ‘Forced Couple’. As indicated above, the inference here is that the husband and wife were forced into matrimony. Nothing earth-shaking about it, in a country where thousands of such marriages take place every day, with varying levels of ‘force’. It is when ‘force’ includes kidnapping that the plot thickens, and material is ripe for film picking.

Bihar, a North-Eastern state of India, is where there is more abduction of ‘pricey’, prospective grooms for the purpose of forced marriage to girls they do not know, than for ransom, in recent years. When Bihari writer Sanjeev Jha came across this startling fact, he decided to turn it into a film script, blending the criminal element of kidnapping with a love story and some comedy.As it is said in the trailer, Bihar men teen taraah se jodiyan bantee haen, Babu: Himmatvaalon kee arranged jodee, qismetvaalon kee love jodi aor dahej key laalchiyon kee jabariya jodi." (In Bihar, couples are formed in three ways: courageous folks have arranged marriages, lucky folks have love marriages and greedy folks have forced marriages). The ‘practice’ is also called ‘pakadva shaadee’ or ‘pakadva vivaah’ (marriage with a ‘catch’).

Though the impression created is that the film is a Bhojpuri venture, the dialect being extensively spoken in Bihar, the film is a mainstream Hindi production, wherein the characters speak the Patna (capital of Bihar) dialect, which is a mixture of all Bihari dialects: Bhojpuri, Maithili, Magadhi. Debutant Prashant Singh, also a Bihari, directs lead pair Sidharth Malhotra and Parineeti Chopra, who were cosy together in Hasee Toh Phasee (2014) and are paired again after five years, Javed Jaffrey, Sanjai Mishra, Aparshakti Khurana, Sheeba Chaddha and Aaryan Arora. Music given by Tanishk Bagchi, Ashok Mastie and Vishal Mishra, and lyrics are written by Raj Shekhar, Rashmi Virag and Tanishk Bagchi. It is scheduled for release on 02 August. Singh, Malhotra and Chopra were present at an event held on 11 July at the Navrang cinema, in Andheri West, suburban Mumbai, to release one of the songs, and have an interaction with fans and media.

A single screen cinema, a vestige of the last century, Navrang is very poorly maintained, with seats that have seen better days. So, why did the producers choose this location? The answer came from the director, who revealed that some scenes in the film were actually shot here. Not enough justification, say I. Moreover, the programme started 90 minutes late, and the audience was offered a mere 200 ml of bottled wateeach as refreshments. Certainly not done. Film events usually take care to offer snacks, beverages, and even meals, depending on time and location. But only water? Somebody wise-cracked, “Looks like a low-budget film.” I tend to agree.

Questions ranged from, “How did you learn the dialects?” to “When are you (Parineeti) going to star with Desi Girl (Homegrown, local, Indian; reference to one of her roles/songs; cousin and star, Priyanka Chopra)?” to “Why is there a foreign woman (Elli Avram) in the song, with Sidharth, and not Parineeti?” Sidharth held control of the mike for most of the time, but did bring in the others, time and again. Answers were to the effect that a lot of time and effort was spent in learning the lingo, retakes being necessary on many occasions, to get the words and accents right; Parineeti feels that there can be only one Desi Girl, but that she is quite keen to work with her cousin and would love to do an action film in which the two of them would work together; the foreign woman is in the song because Sidharth plays a thug and it was an ‘item number’ (titillating dance), which happened when Parineeti was not around. Pari, her pet-name, chuckled, “I was sleeping in the hotel when they were filming this number, because I was not going to be in it.”

There was another person on stage, an over-enthusiastic, obese young man, who was bubbling with energy, but his attempts at being funny were mere attempts, though he tried to crack jokes with Sidharth as partner. Parineeti, who was wearing an oversize shirt over her cycling tight shorts, which were barely visible, seemed really keen on sounding funny, but it did not work.

We learnt later that the Jodi arrived in a rickshaw (three-wheeler, three-seater, affordable mode of transport for Mumbai’s suburban populace) and were mobbed by a horde of fans, who were specially invited. Some 20-30 journalists were in attendance. One of the film’s songs (it has four, according to last reports) was played, at least twice, maybe thrice, and appeared to have all the ingredients to appeal to what is called ‘mass audience’ or ‘front-benchers’. It goes, ‘Zilla hilela’, meaning ‘the district shakes’! When? When the item girl, Elli Avram, shakes her waist! And the prime shaker/swinger is…no prizes for guessing…Sidharth Malhotra. Populist it may be, but the tune is infectious. Singing credits are listed as Raja Hasan, Dev Negi, Monali Thakur and Pravesh Mallick.

For tagline, the poster of the film reads (translated), ‘You have heard of surprise parties. This is a surprise marriage’. Rescheduled from May 17 to August 2, we shall wait for the release to get surprised. Or not. 

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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