Jersey Rating 3.0/5 & Rating
JERSEY is the story of a simple man with big dreams. 1986 Arjun Talwar (Shahid Kapoor) is a talented cricketer from Chandigarh. He is in love with Vidya (Mrunal Thakur). Vidya’s father opposes their relationship and therefore both elope and get married. Unfortunately, Arjun doesn’t make the Punjab Ranji team. Arjun’s trainer and mentor, Coach Bali (Pankaj Kapur), advises him to try next year. But Arjun decides to stop. He takes a government job and moves to a government district with Vidya. Vidya gives birth to a son, Ketan aka Kittu (Ronit Kamra). In 1996, Talwars’ life is not going well. Arjun was suspended over corruption allegations. A lawyer has told him to pay a bribe of Rs. 50,000 to get his job back. However, Arjun refuses to do so. Her kitchen is running thanks to Vidya’s job at a five-star hotel. She is frustrated because she feels Arjun is not doing anything with his life. Kittu has since signed up for cricket coaching. One day he asks Arjun to buy him the jersey of the Indian team. Arjun promises to buy him one on his birthday, which falls a few days later. However, Arjun learns that the jersey costs Rs. 500 and that’s beyond its budget. He tries to get a loan from his friends, but his efforts prove futile. Vidya refuses to give him the money as she feels she has to save for far more important expenses. Meanwhile, coach Bali Arjun announces that there will be a benefit match between Punjab and New Zealand. The Punjab team is looking for a batsman. Arjun agrees to play the match, especially when he learns that each player will pay Rs. 1,000. What happens next forms the rest of the film.
JERSEY begins on an intriguing note in contemporary Bengaluru. The first half oscillates between the 1986 track and the 1996 track. A few scenes stand out here as Arjun attacks the player who is insulting Vidya and Arjun puts cream on Vidya’s hands. The scenes where Arjun hits Kittu and is later hit by Vidya are quite moving. The charity match sequence is exhilarating, as is the intermission. After the break, the scene where Arjun goes to the train station only to scream with excitement is too good. Vidya asks Arjun to fly instead of taking the train is cute. The endgame is euphoric. The finale is unexpected.
Gowtam Tinnanuri’s story is touching, although a bit cliche. Gowtam Tinnanuri’s script works well at certain points. Some scenes are exceptionally written. However, the author should have reduced the length of some sequences for better impact. Siddharth – Garima’s dialogue is normal, although a few one-liners stand out. However, too much Punjabi was used, which should have been avoided.
Gowtam Tinnanuri’s direction is fair. The pain and dilemma the protagonist goes through comes out very well. So you’re connected to the character from start to finish. There are some heroic scenes in the film that are commercially controlled. When it comes to the emotional quotient, Gowtam does his best. On the other hand, he did a scene-by-scene remake of the Telugu original film. Anyone who has seen it will not find anything new here. In addition, the film is unnecessarily long at 171 minutes. Some scenes might make the viewer uneasy, especially in the first half which has a sluggish pacing. The director should have recognized that the sensibilities of the Hindi audience are different and therefore should have shortened or maybe left out a few scenes here and there. Some aspects of the film are not convincing. Chief among them is the strained relationship between Arjun and Vidya. Finally, there is far too much cricket in the second half, with the commentary being in English. That spoils a large part of the audience. Even 83  faced the same problem. The creators should have learned from this, especially if they had the time, and re-dubbed the Hindi commentary.
Speaking of performances, JERSEY rests on Shahid Kapoor’s strong shoulders. The actor gave 100 percent and got into his character’s skin. In several scenes his eyes speak and you can believe it. JERSEY proves once again that Shahid is one of the best actors in Indian cinema at the moment. Mrunal Thakur’s character isn’t fleshed out properly. However, she does very well. Ronit Kamra is cute. Pankaj Kapur is quite good and shares great chemistry with Shahid. However, his dialogues in the climax are difficult to follow. Geetika Mehandru (Jasleen Shergill) is endearing and delivers a confident performance. Rituraj Singh (Mahesh Sir) is reliable. Anjum Batra (Amrit) is nice as Arjun’s sidekick. The actor playing Ravinder and the adult Kittu is decent.
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Sachet & Parampara’s music is average. ‘moream’ has an intoxicating feeling and stands out. I like the rest of the songs ‘Maiyya Mainu’, ‘Baliye Re’ and ‘Jind Meriye’ are not memorable. ‘Baliye Re’ works because of the optics. Anirudh Ravichander’s background music provides the adrenaline rush.
Anil Mehta’s cinematography is great. The off-the-field scenes were shot beautifully by the veteran DOP, but it’s the match scenes that work great. Shashank Tere’s production design is realistic. Payal Saluja’s costumes are non-glamorous as required by the script. The sound of Nihar Ranjan Samal adds to the effect. Manohar Verma’s action is minimal and entertaining. NY VFXWaala’s VFX is ok but could have been better. Navin Nooli’s editing is bad as the film should have been 20-30 minutes shorter. Rajiv Mehra’s cricket coaching and Rob Miller’s sports choreography deserve special mention as they make the cricket scenes feel very authentic.
Overall, JERSEY draws on Shahid Kapoor’s outstanding performance, emotional moments and touching finale. However, due to KGF – CHAPTER 2’s slow pace, long length and single screen resistance, JERSEY’s box office prospects will only be limited to multiplexes and the subways.