A magician of modest standing turns into a footballer of little ability. At stake is the most important trophy of his life: the woman he loves. Given the film’s trite premise and lumbering rhythm, neither the protagonist’s half-hearted embrace of the game nor his well-meaning sleights of hand can prevent ‘Jaadugar’ from being more messy than magical.
Supposedly a social commentary on love and longing in a small town, the superficially breezy ‘Jaadugar’ makes heavy weather of traversing the distance between intention and outcome. Not only is its repertoire of tricks uneven and labored, but the film also comes a cropper in its attempt (which is undeniably commendable at a first flush) to rewrite the conventions of two genres – a love story and a sports drama.
Directed by Sameer Saxena (who also puts in an onscreen appearance as a doctor-cum-football commentator) from a screenplay by Biswapati Sarkar, Jaadugar is an overlong, lackluster, scrappy affair. It combines bland ingredients to serve up a cocktail that is anything but heady.
Streaming on Netflix, the film falls back on perfunctory slice-of-life tropes. The plot follows multiple tangents without achieving much cohesion. A guy is in love. Football does not excite him. But as his all-love-and-no-play approach to life threatens to thwart his desires, he is forced to take the field. But he does not stop treating his girlfriend like a football.
Jitendra Kumar (‘Kota Factory’, ‘Panchayat’) plays Magic Meenu, a man who performs at birthday parties and other nondescript dos in the football-crazy city of Neemuch (this is definitely the first time the Madhya Pradesh town has made it to a Bollywood movie).
Nothing in the film is worse than what is meted out to the heroine, a woman who has surrendered all agency to the men in her life – her father and her persistent and puckish suitor who will not take no for an answer. This lover boy is a bit of a leech – a painful reminder that Hindi films still believe that it is perfectly all right for a man to stalk a woman until she gives in. What’s worse, her fate is allowed to ride on a football team that has never won anything. (NDTV)