As commendable her confidence is, Janhvi’s metamorphosis from bechari to bold is slight, observes Sukanya Verma.
Somewhere in a tragicomic mess of dark crimes and family drama lies a wacky idea that never sees the light of the day.
Director Sidharth Gupta’s remake of Nelson’s Tamil drama, Kolamaavu Kokila, penned by Pankaj Matta, tries hard to be in the same quirky, dicey space as Ishqiya and Udta Punjab, but its vapid humour and designed whimsy over small-town transgressions never lets Good Luck Jerry become more than the sum of its parts.
Part of the problem is a protagonist too opaque for her own good. One keeps waiting for the layers to peel, the mask to slip, the steel to show but the complexity is always implied never felt.
Good Luck Jerry knows what it’s playing at.
A self-conscious gaze envelopes Jaya Kumari aka Jerry’s (Janhvi Kapoor) monotonous moves as she goes about her job at a local massage parlour while dodging the disapproving words of her momo-making mom (Mita Vashisht, bang on the buck) and plucky kid sister Cherry (Samta Sudiksha).
Far away from their home in Bihar’S Darbhanga, three immigrants hope to make a life in boisterous Punjab.
Their hand-to-mouth existence poses real problems when Jerry’s mom falls seriously ill.
In a bid to gather big bucks for her treatment, she volunteers to deliver cocaine in her tiffin while using her puppy eyes to avert suspicious cops.
The neighbourhood Jerry hails from, populated by suitors full of A male saviour complex, as well as her entry in the world of drug mafia and bizarre interactions with its bosses lay the foundation for some quaint comedy. Except none of the wit is quite as amusing as the movie or its cue-heavy background music suggests.
Good Luck Jerry‘s showy production design, down to the last chintz print wallpaper, and the choreographed symmetry of Rangarajan Ramabadran frames are telling of its stylish-to-a-fault ambitions.
While it sure makes for tons of eye candy, it’s also distracting and robs the mood of edge and authenticity.
Director Gupta relies too much on idiosyncratic imagery or traits of its various thuggish characters, like a drug baron (Sushant Singh letting his hair down) taking work calls on a potty seat, a young Sardar bloke’s incessant enthusiasm for trouble, a trafficker’s (a fine Jaswant Singh Dalal) lust fuelled indulgences for his newly-appointed minion, a pair of North-Easter brothers going by the same name — but the punches seldom land.
Only Deepak Dobriyal succeeds in seeing the absurdist tone for what it is with his spontaneous bouts of swagger and surprise.
In a rare fun sequence, where he tags along with Jerry and her folks to meet a kingpin and they introduce themselves over a game of Dumb Charades is proof of his effortless comedy.
But the onus of making Good Luck Jerry work falls entirely on Janhvi Kapoor’s delicate shoulders.
Sporting tinted cheeks and gaudy, floral patiala salwars, she looks the part in a strictly Bollywood sense.
And as commendable her confidence is, Janhvi’s metamorphosis from bechari to bold is slight.
She exudes a nervous energy that made me think of Urmila Matondkar (a perfect fit for Jerry’s part) but lacks the cunning to pull it off.
Good Luck Jerry streams on Disney+Hotstar.
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