Jersey: A Heart-Warming Story Brought Alive By An Engaging Execution
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
What happens when the dreams of an ex-Ranji batsman, Arjun (Nani) come crashing when he isn’t selected to play for his country? He drops his dreams and takes up a government job to support his family. What happens when the stability of a government job fails him? His family struggles and almost breaks apart and yet the batsman in him screams for one more chance at his dream. So, for one last time, as the whole world watches in astonishment, the film follows the uprising of an aging batsman as he knocks it straight out of the stadium.
One of the most interesting aspects in Jersey is the two contradicting personality traits of its central character. On one hand, we see an Arjun who never expresses himself. He always has his emotions under control. There is one scene where his wife Sara, refuses to give him the money to buy their son a gift, even in this scene, Arjun suppresses this disappointment deep within himself. So, from giving up a career in cricket to take up a run of the mill government job to later being suspended from that job, Arjun carries a sense of restraint. But then, when we see him back on the field, everything within him breaks loose. He is not only expressive but now, you can hear him scream in joy, fear, pain, and happiness. This effective manner in which director Gowtam Tinnanuri sketches and develops Arjun’s character is what drives you to connect with him. Without ever knowing if Arjun really is a good player, you believe that he is and get invested in his dreams. This process of driving the audience to engage with one’s characters has become the toughest feat for filmmakers off-late and Gautam proves to be a master at this feat.
Over the years, we have seen many sports films. Now, one of the first things any sports film sets out to do is inspire the audiences enough to root for the central characters. But because the need to inspire is so transparent, the efforts many filmmakers have made in Indian Cinema comes across as either over-the-top or desperate and superficial, take the Tamil film Kanaa for instance or even Salmaan’s Sultan, they inspire simply because they HAVE to not because they want to. Whereas, films like Dangal or Irudhi Suttru find an angle in that story that the audience will relate to and then proceeds to put it forth through a unique perspective. Jersey takes its place at the top of the latter category. Its central focus is not cricket alone, it follows Arjun, his failure, his fears and how he finally conquers them. This journey is portrayed realistically by staying true to the character’s economical and periodical background.
One of the toughest challenges a filmmaker faces is to make their audience believe and be convinced of the world they are creating. This is possible only if the filmmaker has an understanding of the world their characters inhabit. Director Gowtam Tinnauri very confidently showcases this understanding. A middle-class family keeps themselves accountable for every single rupee they make and hence when they choose to chase their dreams, the universe doesn’t owe it to them to make the journey smooth. Everything from sourcing a day’s meal to being answerable to their family poses itself as hurdles and these hurdles and little nuances are portrayed accurately in Jersey. So, the authentic economic and cultural depiction in the film proves that once the world they inhabit and the challenges they face feel real and relatable to the audience, the battle is half won.
As Arjun, Nani pours his heart and soul into this role. His performance is so real and cathartic. The emotions he brings out and the vulnerability he bears with such conviction makes us connect to his characters whole-heartedly. As Sara, Shraddha Srinath makes a promising debut in the Telugu Film Industry. She captures her character’s conflict between being practical and giving in to her emotions beautifully. Playing Nani, Ronit is raw, innocent and such a delight. His innate ability to emote realistically is bound to take him places.
Many of the film’s high and low points are heightened by music director Anirudh Ravichander’s soaring background scores. One of the tracks that stood out for its mellifluous character is “Adhento Gaani Vunnapaatuga”. Cinematographer Sanu Varghese’ visual storytelling is top-notch. His cinematography helps the director capture the core essence of the film through meaningful frames.
On the whole, Jersey is one of those rare films in Telugu that is realistic, moving and most definitely engaging.