Rating: * 1/2
Only in a crazily patriarchal and lawless society like Bihar could the system of ‘pakadwa shaadi’ even exist, under which eligible men are kidnapped and forcibly married so that parents of the girl could save on dowry. Of course, the dowry amount rises according to the professional status of the man, and the greed of his parents, so that’s another social evil. It doesn’t seem to matter that the groom, and often even the bride, are unwilling—once the wedding takes place, they have to adjust. If they don’t, consequences could be horrific for the girl, but then daughters are dispensable in this culture.
A mostly forgotten film, Antardwand (2010) took a serious look at the problem; Prashant Singh’s Jabariya Jodi tries to blend comedy and romance with a cause, and fails spectacularly.
The two lead characters whose love story the film follows in excruciating detail are so disagreeable, the audience could not care less for what happens to them. Abhay Singh (Sidharth Malhotra) is the son of Bihari baahubali Hukum Singh (Jaaved Jaaferi), who kidnaps grooms, and believes he is doing good by helping girls get to get married. The chillum-smoking, beer-guzzling Abhay is also commitment phobic, because his father is cruel and unfaithful to his mother (Sheeba Chaddha). He is stupid enough not to see the trail of similar tragedies his “jabariya” (forced) marriages could lead to; also this film is interested in the bravado and comic potential of the kidnapping, not the outcome. In one scene, Abhay punctures a “helmet” (condom), because even an unintended pregnancy, to his mind, means the couple is bonded for life.
Babli Yadav (Parineeti Chopra) is Abhay’s childhood sweetheart, who had moved to Patna and lost touch. The supposedly spirited Babli, with her odd wardrobe, seems to have just one aim in life—to get married. When the grown-up Babli is introduced, she is captured on TV thrashing a boy who stood her up. She is dumb enough to friendzone and continuously exploit Santosh (Aparshakti Khurana), the nice guy who knows he will always be her “option” when all else fails.
Abhay kidnaps a groom for Babli on her father (Sanjay Mishra)’s request; also because he does not want to marry her. The plan misfires for some contrived reason. Then she kidnaps him in a rage, and he kidnaps her in revenge, and the film, already ludicrous, gets totally unbearable.
Sidharth Malhotra cannot carry off the rustic Bihari part, and looks even more inept because he is surrounded by henchmen—including Chandan Roy Sanyal– who look authentic to the milieu and are given some funny lines. Parineeti Chopra is repeating herself so often, one wonders if her acting repertoire is limited to bubbly/feisty.
It would take a lot more effort and talent to make either a dark comedy or a hard-hitting drama about this strange and region-specific crime. Jabariya Jodi is not that film.