Jubilee Review : It is an enchanting look back into the beginning years of Hindi cinema, and Vikramaditya Motwane has been diligent in creating the period look while creating this clash of egos, jealousies, ambitions, dreams and emotions
– Story by Rajeshwari Kalyanam
As aspiring director is driving the Bentley car with this girl, whom he had met in Lucknow while she was dancing in a kotha, before partition. He is Jay Khanna from this famous theatre company of Karachi who is living in a refugee camp in Mumbai and is actually trying to be a driver for a film financier – Walia. The girl is Nilofer (Wamiqa Gabbi), who is happy making a rich financier (Shamsher Shingh Walia) feel loved in return for his money, and aspires to be an actor. And in the scene, Jay (Sidhant Gupta) is helping her practice her lines, while he watches her from the rearview mirror.
A scene that’s unhurried with a background score that evokes sense of intrigue and foreboding with the cast and the locations going back to 1950s is more or less the setting for Jubilee – the new web series of Prime Video directed by Vikramaditya Motwane.
A period drama, a fiction with the history of partition and Indian cinema from the 1940s to the 50s follows the trend of cinema of the times – extremely slow paced in the beginning, slowly picking speed as the 40s transition into the 50s and the music comes in, the bar dances, the film parties, politics, the financiers, rise of the music industry, entry of the super powers.
And, set against these changes is Madan Kumar alias Binod Das, who rises from being a worker in Roy Talkies – a studio owned by Srikanth Roy (Prasenjit Chatterjee) and his wife Sumitra (Aditi Rao Hydari) to becoming the darling of the theatre audience. Behind his success is a dark tale – memory of a great theatre actor Jamshed Khan the original Madan Kumar – who ends up having romance with Sumitra Kumari and is headed to Karachi along with her when tragedy strikes – Jamshed is killed in riots but Binod has his hand in it, and it becomes Sumitra’s purpose to destroy Madan Kumar.
Meanwhile Jay is trying to set up his studio near his refugee camp with the help of Shamsher Singh Walia, and it is not easy since Madan Kumar goes back on his commitment to act in the film.
The first five episodes already on the OTT will be followed by the Part 2 of Season 1 that will begin to stream on April 14.
Before watching Part 2 – here are a few pluses and minuses –
The web series starts in a very slow pace and the background score at times, becomes repetitive almost distracting in places. If the director Vikramaditya was obsessed with period look – I have no complains there as it adds to the charm and premise of the webseries.
What starts as a peek into history soon shifts into this clash of egos, tales of jealousy, revenge and survival and where there are emotions and human relationships, desires and aspiration woven into a story – it surely becomes intriguing. Jubilee is an very non fussy way draws the viewers into the story. The casting is a major plus for the story, each one bringing their bit to the drama. Especially Sidhant Gupta, who as Jay Khanna of the 40 s with his long legs, loose trousers, a sprint in his gait and an abandon in his dance, and the attitude with which he holds his cigarette is reminiscent of all the heartthrob heroes of the era – Devanand, Shashi Kapoor of the younger days and you seek and you will find more. On the other hand, Aparshakti Khurana shows intensity, depth and gravity in his rendition of the character which is a complex blend of it all. Wamiqa as the aspiring actor who knows what she wants, appears to be happy and cheerful and beneath it all is the lady with a purpose – is apt for the role and she brings her bit of energy to the scene.
Jubilee is an enchanting look back into the beginning years of Hindi cinema, and Vikramaditya Motwane has been diligent in creating the period look to the T – be it the costumes, sets, the refugee camp, the studios, the cars and the people and their disposition including music which transports us back to an era where India as a country was finding her identity while one of the largest film industries in the world was facing a change over as it entered a new era.