Jugjugg Jeeyo

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The subject of divorce goes under a microscope in the Bollywood movie Jugjugg Jeeyo. Despite a weighty topic that is handled in an intentionally melodramatic style, the film has plenty of broad comedy and several of the lavish musical numbers Indian cinema is known for. Following a brief domestic theatrical run in June 2022, it's now available to stream on Prime Video. Despite offering numerous pleasures, this Raj Mehta-directed rom-com doesn't quite hit the mark.

Kukoo (Varun Dhawan) and Nainaa (Kiara Advani) have loved each other since grade school. Now adults, they've found their 5-year marriage on the skids. He resents having to move from India to Canada so she can pursue career ambitions, and she feels he can do more than work as a bouncer at a club. The couple makes the decision to split, but not until after the upcoming wedding of Kukoo's sister Ginny (Prajakta Koli).

Upon arriving back home, Kukoo learns that his father Bheem (Anil Kapoor) is planning to leave wife Geeta (Neetu Singh) for his mistress, thereby ending their marriage of 35 years. The story follows these romantic complications, as Kukoo tries to prevent his parents' divorce while coming to terms with his own. In the end, each member of the family learns a lesson about what it means to commit to a marriage and how to cope when it's clear one party or the other is unhappy.

Parts of Jugjugg Jeeyo are very entertaining. The performances are good, with Anil Kapoor – known to American audiences for Slumdog Millionaire and the TV show 24 - particularly good as Bheem, a man whose self-centeredness is as comical as it is pathetic. The movie also earns laughs from its farcical elements, with everyone trying to keep their marital problems secret from everyone else. Compelling drama arises from the scenes where Kukoo and Nainaa, and Bheem and Geeta, finally open up about the sources of their discontent. The screenplay builds conflict that feels authentic to the characters' personalities, so those exchanges carry weight.

Of course, the musical sequences are dazzling, with high-energy dancing, foot-tapping songs, and glitzy set design that puts the cast in glamorous locations. They're thoroughly enjoyable. No, people don't break out into elaborately choreographed dance routines in real life. So what? These sections are the highlight.

Jugjugg Jeeyo has two notable problems that hurt it. One is an intrusive instrumental score that is present in virtually every scene. Whether a comedic moment or a dramatic one, the background music is perpetually there, telling you how to feel. Honestly, a lot of the scenes would play better quietly, to draw us in to the conversations characters are having. Instead, that blasted score distracts from whatever story beat is playing out.

The other problem is an overlong running time. It's common for Bollywood movies to run two-and-a-half to three hours. Jugjugg Jeeyo is the former, and there simply isn't sufficient story to cover that length. Scenes go on long after we've already gotten the point, leading to a sensation that the film is simply treading water. There's a fantastic 90-minute picture in here that has been pointlessly padded out.

As much as there is to like about Jugjugg Jeeyo, those flaws limit its success. This is one of those pictures where you're alternately having a great time and wishing it would just hurry up and get on with it.

out of four

Jugjugg Jeeyo is unrated, but contains brief strong language and thematic content. The running time is 2 hours and 28 minutes.