Jamun is a film that is not to be missed for it highlights how each one of us is a hero in our own lives
By Manjulaa Shirodkar
Director Gaurav Mehra’s Jamun starring Shweta Basu Prasad and Raghuvir Yadav is a heart-warming film which captures the Indian middle class in a manner and fashion which is not normally seen in Hindi cinema. There have been films like Badhaai Ho, Do DooniChaar, Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Tanu Weds Manu and others too but few have focused on the travails of the common man, like Jamun does – one who is obsessed with seeing his only daughter married and his engineer son settled.
Jamun elucidates the touching relationship between a father and his daughter; it is a film which captures the desperation of a son who will go to any lengths to earn money to get his father’s approval; a film which showcases a daughter’s efforts to keep her sibling and their father together – who tries to be a peacemaker and a bread-earner at the same time; and a film where the relationship between the hero and heroine is but organic progression of a relationship. Nothing earth-shattering, not larger-than-life yet captivating in its earnestness and sincere effort.
Chetna, played by Shweta Basu Prasad, is a young girl pursuing a course in nursing. She is also the caregiver in her family comprising a father named Jamun Prasad (essayed stunningly by Raghuvir Yadav) and a brother Amar played by Sunny Hinduja. The latter is unemployed despite a degree in engineering and who hides his need for his father’s approval by rebelling against him. She is an eager daughter who is witness to her father’s declining health and Yadav plays a father who wants to see her married and his son settled in life before he dies.
They are a family who could be staying next door to you and me and we would not know anything about them. Because that is exactly how the big city treats you – and especially a city like Mumbai, wherein next door flats’ remain closed, common staircases lonely and hardly anyone checks out what’s going on in your life. It is a scary scenario. You may have a life full of friends but essentially you’re on your own. Jamun in its own bittersweet way and in a fitting tribute to its title (named after the fruit) captures this flavour perfectly.
Basu Prasad who won the National Award for Best Child Actor for Makdee in 2003 at the age of 12 has only matured as a performer over the years. With exemplary performances in films like Iqbal and The Tashkent Files behind her she holds her own in Jamun too and matches the inimitable Raghuvir Yadav shot for shot. You feel her helplessness as she is made to feel less than a woman by prospective suitors only because she has a squint. Idiots like them abound in our society and need to be shown their place. Instead we focus our attention on cowering down perfectly able souls like Chetna.
Yadav for his part plays an ageing, worrying father to the hilt and definitely steals the show. Moments like when he is trying to force the servant of the house to quit by being deliberately difficult are funny and painful at the same time. It takes a man of Yadav’s caliber to not let the scenes slip into slapstick. He manages to keep it poignant – just.
Saurabh Goyal as Dr. Kewal is an endearing and understated actor who has yet to be recognized for the talent he portrays. As one who cares for Chetna, he shows his affection by taking care of her family instead. A lovely touch in Hindi cinema and credit must be given to the film’s scriptwriter for the same.
Indeed, Jamun is a film that is not to be missed for it ensures your attention from the very first scene. It doesn’t call out to your pity or your sympathy but is a slice-of-life rendition of the reality around us. And how ordinary souls around us are really fighters in their own right. How they don’t want to give up despite the travails life throws at us. A lesson in life’s learning, as it were.
Released in January this year and currently streaming on ErosNow, Jamun is an Eros Now Original film. Must watch.
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Manjulaa Shirodkar (nee Negi) is an established film critic and author, having worked in leading national publications. She is also a Film Selection Committee member for various film festivals.