Jhund Review: Nagraj Manjule dishes out a near perfect finish with Amitabh Bachchan

Nagraj Manjule's Jhund may just prove trouble for Alia Bhatt's Gangubai Kathiawadi at the box office this weekend.

Updated on Mar 03, 2022 01:08 AM IST  |  915.3K
Jhund Review: Nagraj Manjule dishes out a near perfect finish with Amitabh Bachchan
Jhund Review: Nagraj Manjule dishes out a near perfect finish with Amitabh Bachchan.
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Jhund 

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Ankush Gedam, Akash Thosar, Rinku Rajguru

Director: Nagraj Manjule 

Release: Theatres 

Rating: 4/5 

 

Nagraj Manjule's style of cinema can be best described as going to India's hinterland roots and bringing out a raw, emotional story that still connects on different levels to India's people. Be it Fandry, Sairat or the latest short Vaikunth, the filmmaker is a master of marrying raw emotions with great storytelling. For this, Manjule often brings along a new set of actors and works his magic. For Jhund, the filmmaker does not bring one such actor but an entire team of boys and girls to stay true to his film's title. 

Based on the life of Slum Soccer founder Vijay Barse, Manjule's Jhund sees Amitabh Bachchan take charge as the football coach who gives slum kids a new meaning to life through the power of football. Set in Nagpur, Manjule creatively places this slum in between a well-known city school and a prime residential neighbourhood. The school shares a boundary with the slum where they dump the day's garbage over the walls.  

Manjule establishes this neighbourhood, the people in it, their habits and what they do for a living without a dialogue. It is Ajay-Atul's upbeat music that invites you into this world. Amitabh Bachchan as football coach Vijay Borade, who is inching closer to retirement, passes through the slum on his way to work every day. While he knows the people, he doesn't really know them until an untimely shower fixes his gaze on their game of kicking around a plastic dabba. 

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While these underprivileged kids have a roof over their heads, they have no clarity, ambition or goal in life. They rob coal, phones and gold chains to finance their drugs and alcohol and are a familiar face to the local cops. Coach Vijay Borade recognises they can kick around and pays them 500 rupees to play football for a few days. 

It is from here that Manjule begins to develop this sporting world with coach Vijay Borade and his "Jhund" as everyone else calls them. Spanning across almost 3 hours, Jhund's first half simply flies by with a gripping narrative that is infused by comic punch lines and hilarious dialogues delivered masterfully by these new actors. As football keeps them busy, coach Borade slowly and steadily notices a change in their patterns as the sport brings them together. 

One of the funniest scenes is the slum's first-ever match with the school team that comes a little before the interval. As Borade's efforts to give these slum kids a new life through football become popular, Manjule induces several obstacles along the way. From gang rivalry to societal acceptance and even class divide, Manjule's social commentary is splattered across Jhund and he keeps us reminding about it until the film's very last frame. With wide shots of the school and slum next to each other, the director never makes us forget the realities with cinematographer Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti. 

In Jhund, you do not root for a certain protagonist, Manjule makes your heart beat and feel for several characters. As an apt dialogue from the film says, "Jeene ke liye sarkar ko papers dikhana padta hai, or marne ke baad bhi." Jhund scores near-perfect marks in casting, acting, production design and the music department. Amitabh Bachchan is the beating heart of this film as he dishes out a splendid performance and gives ample space for newbies to shine.   

We also get to see several Sairat actors like Akash Thosar, Rinku Rajguru and many others in supporting roles throughout the film. Manjule himself plays the local big shot who makes the biggest contribution for Ambedkar Jayanti every year. 

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At almost three hours, Jhund may feel long but it never gets tiresome to sit through. However, Manjule could have shortened a song or one of the lead character Don Meshram's three-month police track. For a film set in Maharashtra's Nagpur, Manjule could have also used a bit more of conversational Marathi to make a few scenes feel more authentic.  

Irrespective, the film keeps you invested in this team's journey through its heartbreaking climax, Manjule's social commentary, great acting and tugs right at your heart with its emotions. 

Looks like Nagraj Manjule's Jhund is all set to give some serious competition to Alia Bhatt's Gangubai Kathiawadi at the box office this weekend.

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ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE: Nagraj Manjule on Jhund: ‘Can’t ask the audience to watch an Amitabh Bachchan film on OTT’ 

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