By Sneha Jaiswal (Twitter | Instagram)

The first few minutes of the 2022 Netflix film ‘Jaadugar’ are deceptively entertaining. Directed by Sameer Saxena, the follows small-town magician Meenu (Jitendra Kumar) in Neemuch, M.P, who has to win a local community football tournament in order to marry the woman he loves. While the odd combination of football & magic seemed amusing in the 2 minute 23 seconds trailer, the predictable plot gets overbearing over the overstretched 2 hour 46 minute runtime, despite entertaining performances.

Even for an actor with Jitendra Kumar’s caliber, the long runtime of the film is too ambitious for the thinly written plot. Kumar’s Meenu neither does enough magic, nor make serious attempts to play decent football. He is a slightly creepy road-side Romeo who throws around cheesy dialogues, tries to woo a pretty doctor, and even proposes marriage to her, without as much as finding out her last name. Apparently he is ‘serious’, but really he is just a self-centered jackass who gets incredibly lucky. Arushi Sharma who plays Meenu’s love interest delivers a decent performance, but her character is half-baked. Jaaved Jaaferi as Meenu’s uncle who coaches the colony’s football team was a little random, but he manages to pull off the role. So do the motley crew of actors who make up his team, a bunch of mostly unfit oddballs who aren’t as passionate as Meenu’s uncle about the game.

The makers resort to cheap emotional tricks to make the viewers feel something for the characters, so there are too many moving/dramatic scenes in a movie that should have been a light funny comedy flick about sportsmanship/community spirit. One thing the makers do right – they capture the way people talk in the Hindi heartland quite well… so a lot of the banter is believable and realistic. As far as the football part of the story is concerned, since Meenu’s team is supposed to be a bunch of losers, the on field game is in sync with their skills, the writers could’ve tried to make things a little more exciting or funny though.

Unfortunately, despite being a boringly long movie, ‘Jaadugar’ still doesn’t have enough time or story to make viewers connect with the characters. So when the predictable climax comes, some viewers will just be relieved the show if finally over. Too bad, because the plot did have potential, plus a talented cast to boot.

It’s a 5/10 from me.

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