Film Review: Jhund (2022)

Vijay Borade (Amitabh Bachchan) is about to retire from college as a sports teacher. One day, he notices some boys and girls in the slum area playing football with remarkable skills. Vijay finds new enthusiasm and after his retirement, he works with them and makes a valuable effort for the development of football in the slum area for the underprivileged children.

Jhund is based on the real-life story of Vijay Barse, a resident of Nagpur who founded Slum Soccer Organization after watching a lot of slum kids playing impressive football.

See, it is a fresh idea. A lot of sports films are showing up in Bollywood every year but this one is quite different from the others.  The reason is that this sports drama doesn’t focus on a legendary player and his/her personal and professional life. This is about some children of different ages, boys and a few girls, who were involved in drugs and hoodlum. This is about the birth of a football organization that paved way for the street children throughout the country to participate, play football, and make their name.

Jhund’s aesthetics are genuine. You get a feel of a slum and I have not researched but I have a feeling that those children were all actually from the slum areas. Because those characters were so real to judge. If they really are from the slums then kudos to the makers to come up with this idea and give them a chance to work on the screen and that too with none other than Amitabh Bachchan, the only known cast of the entire film. Besides Big B, almost every actor in the film has marked his/her debut which makes me think that perhaps those people are really from the slums but not professional actors.

Unfortunately, despite a command over the story and Amitabh’s presence keeping me hooked throughout the film, Jhund has a lot of critical errors. The biggest issue is screen time and no way is this film suppose to clock nearly three hours, absolutely not! Jhund’s plot has variations and lengthy continuity for sure but the screenplay is overstretching. 

Believe it or not! there is literally a half-an-hour sequence of a football match. I get it, that was the most important scene of the film that changed the lives of slum kids and made Vijay Borade devise a plan for the foundation. But thirty minutes of a match is just too much. And even a very predictable one. And I am not sure if such a match actually occurred in a reality where those kids defeated some well-trained football team of a college with a comeback from 5-0. My mind doesn’t accept that. But when they began to score over the college team, it became highly predictable that they will stretch this whole sequence to a thrilling penalty shoot-out and win. With a better direction, this football match could have been reduced to fifteen minutes easily.

And the direction is the problem. With a lengthy screenplay, one can easily notice that the pace of the film picks up and sometimes get slow. Yes, there are scenes that needed to grow on the audience and I felt it was the need of the hour like Vijay repeatedly offering the kids to play for money and the efforts by those kids with their family and friends in submitting forms and passports for the World Cup. The latter part needed emphasis and the director dramatized all those scenes well. I liked the sequences of Monica’s struggle to make a passport with her father. This is what the audience needs to watch; some harsh realities about efforts made for one passport. Ankush’s story was heartbreaking and one of the thousand stories in India whose fate keeps twisting even if he wants to leave his tragic past behind to become better. Jagdish’s backstory had a special sequence that rightfully addressed the audience about those who give up and try to commit suicide. He becomes the team’s goalkeeper.

There are a lot of plotholes in the film that indicates a rookie direction of Nagraj Manjule. I have no idea how the court allowed Vijay to give a five-minute speech and that too openly instead of sending him to the witness box. How come a team played a football match in the tournament without a goalkeeper before Jagdish asked to fill the place? How come a college agreed on a football match against the slum kids in the first place, and that too with the criminal backgrounds and drug consumption? 

Jhund is an inspiring film, and thanks to Aamir Khan‘s show Satyamev Jayate which introduced Vijay Barse and gave him the chance to narrate his story.

No doubt, Jhund is a fresh and exciting film that highlights so many social issues and encourages the audience to spare a thought and do something good or right for others. 

RATINGS: 7/10

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