With Bollywood screenwriters giving a new lease of life to the ordinary man on screen, megastars from Amitabh Bachchan (Piku, Gulabo Sitabo) to Shahrukh Khan (Zero) have jumped on the bandwagon, eschewing larger-than-life, crowd-pleasing roles to ‘play’ common men. But even some of the most realistic depictions of these characters come off as pretentious and, dare I say, tryhard. Rarely do these actors ‘become’ the character. Grounded in realism, Amitabh Bachchan’s Vijay Borade in Jhund is portrayed with an instinctive finesse and quiet sensitivity. He’s unflinching yet powerfully restrained, ably shouldering the film while never superseding the story.
Director Nagraj Manjule does allow the actor centre stage in the final moments, where we revel in the power the superstar and cinema hold over us, but even there the scene is in service to the narrative. Jhund is a seminal piece of work both in terms of content and form. Manjule’s directorial flair and attention to detail are evident in every frame. The most mundane, ordinary details, that a lesser, incurious filmmaker would forgo, are a thing of wonder in Manjule’s films. In fact, therein lies his uniqueness and singularity as a filmmaker.
His intuitive storytelling powered largely by a non-professional cast of actors breaks barriers, takes risks and in the process subverts how we’ve come to define cinema over the years. The film gives us countless moments to celebrate and savor the influence that the medium holds over us. Manjule wrings performances from both actors and non-actors with an enviable savvy. He lets his characters write the story. The non-actors bring grace and genuineness to the film that would have betrayed a skilled actor.
Don’t miss it!