Parineeti Chopra and Sidharth Malhotra have come a long way since they last shared screen space in the 2014 Bollywood film, “Hasee Toh Phasee”. While the two have proven their acting chops since, their decision to sign on for “Jabariya Jodi” (Unwilling Couples) will always remain a deeper mystery than why this film was written in the first place.
Prashant Singh’s “Jabariya Jodi” is a deeply problematic film with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It fails to engage or entertain, choosing instead to promote regressive ideas about consent, marriage and gender – all in the guise of a romance.
Abhay (Sidharth Malhotra), the male lead, is on a mission to eradicate the scourge of dowry in his home state of Bihar. For a price, he kidnaps men who demand dowry and forces them to get married, even dragging some to the altar kicking and screaming.
Abhay’s political ambitions and his flourishing business are both derailed when he meets Babli (Parineeti Chopra). He can’t decide whether he is in love with her, and she wonders if she should rebel against her family for him. The plot meanders enough to keep the two leads confused till the end of the film, at which point everything miraculously falls into place.
Director Prashant Singh and scriptwriter Sanjeev K Jha are tone-deaf in their treatment of the subject. There is a social message about dowry here somewhere, but it is buried deep and never articulated. Babli’s regressive ideas about relationship and marriage and Abhay’s complete disregard for consent make for a messy tale that sees people being forced into marriage in the guise of social service.
Chopra and Malhotra are stilted and ineffective, and their chemistry is non-existent. It is almost as if the two were dragged to the sets of the film and forced to act – just like the characters in the film. Much like its title, “Jabariya Jodi” is a forced and unnecessary effort, one that we could all have done without.
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