Starring Shahid Kapoor, Mrunal Thakur, Pankaj Kapoor, Ronit Kamra
Written & Directed by Gowtam Tinnanuri
Jersey is a film that was waiting to have its say. And I don’t mean that in just the creative perspective. Its release has been postponed more than once. But the weight has been worth it. This is a film that’s all heart. Unlike, say, Jhund who approached the sports arena with a distracting detachment, Jersey is not afraid to flirt with broad emotions. It plunges into its protagonist’s life with a fervent gusto, sparing us none of his anguished self-loathing for being a loser, especially in the eyes of his wife and son.
The father-son bonding is crucial to the efficacy of this mellow drama. Shahid Kapoor, giving what could arguably rank as his career’s best performance, bonds beautifully with his screen son played by Ronit Kamra. It’s a pleasure beyond measure to see the two of them together. Even when they don’t speak to each other, the father and son are heartbreaking in their mutual devotion.
Shahid plays Arjun Talwar, a first-rate cricketer who loses his career, and his self-worth partly due to his own ill-tempered countenance(what’s with Shahid and these ill-behaved characters?). The actor on a winning wicket plays Arjun with a refreshing repudiation of self-congratulation. He is shown plunging to the most embarrassing pits of moral low ground and then redeeming himself just in time.
“My son is the only one who never judged me,” he blurts out in a deeply moving confessional sequence. Arjun must redeem himself, if for no other reason than to stay a hero in his son’s perception.
This is as good a place as any to state that Shahid Kapoor is outright outstanding, letting his hurt pain, and anger manifest themselves wordlessly. Some of his best moments are with the brilliant Pankaj Kapoor who plays the devoted coach and never stops believing in Arjun, even when his wife does.
Jersey revives our faith in cinema with a heart. It is gentle compassionate and unabashedly emotional. In a number of scenes, I found myself teary-eyed. The climax, though highly manufactured and manipulative, is thunderous in its emotional impact.
Jersey conveys a very unusual feeling of intimacy and epicness. While most of the domestic tragedy unfolds in a small unrepaired home filled with fractured emotions, the film moves out effortlessly into the cricket for some solid batting and then makes a pitch for a multi-generation melodrama.
All of this works, because the director is in complete command of the emotions. And then there is Shahid Kapoor. Bringing a ravishing restrain –order to his character’s tumultuous destiny.