Jubilee REVIEW: Aditi Rao Hydari Starrer Web Show Is An Audacious And Astonishing Journey To The Roots Of Hindi Cinema

Scroll down to read the review of Vikramaditya Motwane’s latest show Jubilee

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Jubilee REVIEW: Aditi Rao Hydari Starrer Web Show Is An Audacious And Astonishing Journey To The Roots Of Hindi Cinema
Lights, sound, camera… action! And here we go. At last, a series that encapsulates  the genesis of Hindi cinema…the good bad and the ogling.
The fun part of  Vikramaditya  Motwane’s  see-real is to  spot who’s who and …my God, is  this true??!!! Motwane’s writer Atul Sabharwal  uses historical facts to  create  a kind of  free-flowing fusion of fact and fantasy that is at once  arresting  and liberating.

From the silent era  in the 1940s to  the  not-so-silent  era when the Partition of 1947 tore the  nation into  two, Jubilee begins  its  comprehensive  exhilarating  journey  by introducing us to the brooding  maverick producer Srikant  Roy, most  meticulously modeled on the legendary Himanshu Rai.As played by Prosenjit Chatterjee , Roy is wily and  mysterious, ambitious  and nasty…It’s a brutal role  played with  tremendous  understanding.
In comparison Aditya Roy Hydari as  Roy’s wife Sumitra  Devi(modeled on the enchanting Devika Rani) comes across as flat and  dull. More mistake than mystique. I don’t think  Devika would have  liked how she is portrayed.

But the show –which must go on-- belongs two young male  actors Aparshakti Khurrana  who plays a half-there-half-dare  Ashok Kumar ,  and Sidhant Gupta who plays nobody in  particular. In author-backed roles, they  steer the  series  through propulsive drama that precludes history,mystery and chemistry. Khurrana  plays  Binod Das,  a dark sinister yes-man(hence Das) to Srikant Roy. Binod  strikes out as  an unlikely matinee idol Madan Kumar, leaving behind a trail of blood and jealousy. Khurrana’s eyes convey a  disturbing  blend of evil and ambition.
There is  a popular dialogue  that Binod Das recites  to his studio boss before becoming Madan  Kumar. The  desperation of a social climber is  pitch-perfectly  expression by Khurrana.

Siddhant Gupta as Jay Khanna has the meatiest role. He is a jaunty Casanova whose dreams  of being part of  the movies are  almost throttled by historical vicissitudes. Jay takes  it all on his square chin with the debonairness of Dev Anand.

The female cast is relatively weak except for the spunky Wamiqa Gabi who comes across effectively  as a tawaif except when she  is made to perform a Bhansali-styled  Mujra  in her  brothel which miraculously turns into a spatial  kotha with dozens of chorus dancers.
The partition prettified for karmic relief.But the mood is overall consistent and  commanding 

Echoes of the past reverberate  in this researched but  easygoing flight into filmic fancy. Jubilee is  remarkably well shot by cinematographer  Pratik  Shah who hardly ever allows the  storytelling to be overwhelmed  by signposts and emblems of  historicity. I  wish the music was less illustrative  more  spontaneous.Amit Trivedi’s songs  come through  more trite than right. Alokananda Dasgupta’s background score is a little too playful…or perhaps that’s the mood  director Motwane wants?

 Not to be taken too seriously, and yet seriouslyy enough to know this is not  a flight into fancy, Jubilee packs in quite a punch , resisting the temptation to get paunchy it remains well trimmed and sinewy in its storytelling.

The research is rigorous and  yet never  ponderous. In episode  5, we are told how a ban on new film songs on All India  Radio  gave birth to Radio Sri Lanka as an alternate outlet for film songs.

These are details that the  young viewers would not know. The series ensures they would remain invested  through the ten episodes.
 Jubilee is   remarkable achievement  for how much  the characters  convey the  nervous  excitement   of those times when  Hindi cinema  was  trying to find its feet in the bloody cesspool of  the  Partition.

We’ve just been through five episodes. We are told  it is  ‘interval’ now. We can’t wait to get back to these  lives which  seem to echo the past  while skirting the present.