When Bollywood does it bad, it does it really bad. And no, I don’t mean “bad” as in “cool” or even “good” (or “sick,” which apparently means “amazing” or “spot on” these days). By bad I mean just that – deficient, poor, awful maybe. Jodi Breakers was all this and more.
Right from the get-go this film starts with actors trying to convince us that they are really acting by directly but aimlessly addressing the audience. But what was the point? Even the first song, which appears very soon after this opening sequence, ‘Kanwara/I am single,’ is a feeble throwback to an earlier song from the film Band Baaja Baarat (2010), with a weak playback by Salim Merchant.
An overweight R. Madhavan plays Sid Khanna. No, the script doesn’t require the character to be overweight, I just think R. Madhavan has let himself go, and the good times he seems to have been having off screen are showing on.
In the movie, Sid meets and pairs up with Sonali Khanna, played by Bipasha Basu, and they set up a partnership to help couples divorce. While on a business trip to Greece assisting a client, though, Sid and Sonali get drunk and end up having sex. Oh dear. So by the interval, will either of them feel ashamed and/or fall in love with the other? Do we really care? The way the film’s first half is shoddily put together, it doesn’t really matter.
This film is pitched as a Bollywood rom-com with a supporting cast including Omi Vadiya of 3 Idiots (2009) fame, who plays Kamdev. Unfortunately, he embodies toilet humor here, and doesn’t know when to flush himself. The model turned actor Milind Soman is arresting with his good looks, but not for long – maybe for a few scenes at best. Helen – the darling vamp and sexy siren of Hindi cinema of yesteryears – appears in the second half as the Granny Madonna. It really is as bad as it sounds…
Maybe I’m being too harsh, and unlike the other six people who were in the auditorium on the Friday evening of its opening weekend, perhaps I just missed the merits of the film.
There was, of course, a love duet in Greece, ‘Mujhko Teri Zaroorat Hai/I need you,’ in which Bipasha has a “wardrobe malfunction” (not Janet Jackson style, just a bad costume choice). But although the song ‘Darmiyaan/Distances’ is half catchy, it’s a shame that it’s “picturized” with R. Madhavan singing it, when a non-diegetic background score would have made it much more bearable to watch.
The other “highlight” was when Bipasha sings a song about herself – ‘Bi-pa-sha, Bip-asha’ – in a nightclub called Medusa, where she dances and performs Kama Sutra-esque moves and attempts to throw in some diva at the same time. The song even includes a teasing line in it: ‘You can never ever get Bip-asha.’ Now that’s “sick” (spot on) as I hadn’t quite understood Bipasha. Or indeed any of the other characters in this film…
At least all the songs are subtitled in English – hurray! And although it was lost in the mess of this movie, there was a meaningful point about how in some cases, divorce can give people another chance to find love.
R. Madhavan and Bipasha have both played better roles in some of their previous films, where they also proved they have some talent and can act. Certainly this film is a far cry from one of R. Madhavan’s more recent popular and critical successes, Tanu Weds Manu (2011). In fact, I’m not sure what kind of film Jodi Breakers actually is, or what the director’s intention was.
And that really is bad.
Rajinder Dudrah is Senior Lecturer in Film and Media Studies at the University of Manchester, U.K., and author of 'Bollywood: Sociology Goes to the Movies.’