Jersey movie review: Shahid Kapoor hits a century in a movie that’s too long

After Kabir Singh, Shahid Kapoor returns to the big screen with Jersey, almost three years after the release of his last film. And you don’t feel like he’s changed one iota, at least as far as his looks go. However, his Arjun Talwar in Jersey is much more calm and restrained than the rowdy and angry Kabir Singh. Playing a talented but failed cricketer, a doting father, and a husband struggling to save his marriage from collapse, he carries the film on his capable shoulders. While it’s out of the park every time it’s in the field, the film shines in places and with a disrupted narrative, often loses momentum. (Also read: Jersey celebrity review: Shahid Kapoor receives praise from ‘lil bro’ Ishaan Khatter, Varun Dhawan and more)

A Hindi remake of the 2019 Telugu film of the same name, Jersey was written and directed by Gowtam Tinnanuri, who also directed the original. And no prizes for guessing, the remake is a scene-by-scene copy of the original just like most other South Indian movies that are remade in Bollywood.

Jersey tells the story of an exceptionally talented Ranji player, Arjun Talwar (Shahid Kapoor), who quit cricket at the age of 26 and after 10 years decides to revive his career and return to the game. the process, Arjun wants to fulfill his son Kitu’s (Ronit Kamra) desire to have a jersey and dreams of seeing his father play cricket. During this journey, Arjun goes through emotional turmoil and confrontations with his wife Vidya Talwar (Mrunal Thakur) who bears all the financial burden of the family.

But despite all helplessness, nothing seems to stop Arjun from pursuing his dream of playing for the Indian national cricket team. He finds support in his trainer Madhav Sharma (Pankaj Kapur), who also serves as his father figure.

High on emotion, Jersey lacks the plot value that would keep you hooked. And the film’s nearly three-hour runtime only makes it worse.

For starters, Arjun and Vidya’s romance and their struggle to convince her South Indian father to marry his daughter into a Punjabi family gets a bit too strained. Even though the director tries to inject some light humor into these scenes using typical tropes of differences between North and South Indian cultures, the jokes fall flat.

Shahid Kapoor with Mrunal Thakur.

During the whole first half we only hear two things over and over again – the son wants a shirt and the father is struggling 500 to buy this. It’s not until the second half that the story begins to move forward. Also, the movie’s one big reveal that comes during the climax didn’t really overwhelm me. I wish the creators had thought of a different twist to make the story stand out from the original.

More than sport, Jersey shines a light on the dynamics of relationships – between father and son, husband and wife, player and coach, failed cricketer and his friends. And that, I felt, gave a nice depth to the film. Endearing performances while displaying those ties actually take the cake.

Shahid does not exaggerate with his performance and remains discreet. His expressions of anger, frustration, helplessness, happiness and victory strike a chord. I felt that the Punjabi touch was spreading quite unevenly and tediously in his dialogues, could have been avoided. Nevertheless, it would certainly be among his finest performances.

Mrunal as a working wife and mother does her job well and doesn’t look forced in the script. The movie gives her a lot of leeway to act and she lets her expressions and her eyes do the most talking. Mrunal’s chemistry with Shahid isn’t superlative but works to an extent that they don’t seem odd.

Ronit Kamra as Shahid and Mrunal’s on-screen son is the same child as the original and is as good in the Hindi remake. His scenes with Shahid are simply delightful, and you can connect with the bond this father-son duo shares onscreen. And then there’s Pankaj Kapur, a veteran in the true sense of the word and a character to fall in love with instantly. Even in the few scenes he has, he picks up small nuances and also provides much-needed comic relief.

The cricket pitch scenes were shot beautifully and cinematographer Anil Mehta captures the game beautifully.

In short, Jersey stays true to the genre of sports drama it belongs to and strikes the right balance between the game and the emotional side of a sportsman. Only if the makers had worked a little harder on the assembly table and brought it down to something like two hours would this have been an ideal, sharp watch.

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