Shahid Kapoor in a still from 'Jersey' Photograph:( Twitter )
A remake of the 2019 Telugu film by the same name, 'Jersey' takes you back in time to the 1990s and narrates the story of Arjun Talwar played by Shahid Kapoor.
There is no doubt that Shahid Kapoor is one of the finest actors of his generation. Kapoor started off his career playing romantic leads but with time has grown immensely as an actor and dabbled with some very difficult roles - each time delivering a memorable performance. Kapoor's latest 'Jersey' has him delivering one of the most restraint performances of his career.
A remake of the 2019 Telugu film by the same name, 'Jersey' takes you back in time to the 1990s and narrates the story of Arjun Talwar. Once a gifted cricketer in the 80s, Arjun now lives in a govt quarter with his wife Vidya (Mrunal Thakur) and son Kittu.
Arjun's glorious days on the field are a thing of the past and he now lives as a jilted man who has lost his govt job in a falsely implicated case and has no will to fight back - to go back to the field or get his job back. His marriage is strained because of financial pressure at home and his only solace is his son who literally hero-worships him.
In fact, it's his son's demand for the Indian Jersey as his birthday gift (which Arjun can't afford) that makes Arjun go back to the field much to his coach and mentor's joy (Pankaj Kapoor). After a successful match but no money, Arjun realises he wants to give another shot to the Indian cricket team, while selectors and his coach feel at 36 he is more suitable for an assistant coach's position. How he beats the odds and becomes the hero in his son's life forms the rest of the story.
Written and directed by Gowtam Tinnanuri, 'Jersey' is a long detailed story showcasing the many failures of a man who was once a star on the field. He eloped with Vidya, had a potentially shining career in the Indian cricket team and when he didn't get through- he decided to leave the sport for good. 10 years down the line, his marriage is falling apart, he has no job and super-high self-esteem which stops him from taking up odd jobs or even fighting the legal battle to get his govt job back.
A film that is high on emotions demands credible performances by its actors to keep the viewers engaged. The lead of the film, Shahid Kapoor holds the film together with his subtle restraint performance. Shahid at the beginning of his career was known for his theatrics and dance moves, but Kapoor over the years has matured as an actor and in 'Jersey,' he seems to have aged like fine wine. The film is centred around him and holds the almost three-hour long film together with his stupendous performance.
Giving him able support is the film's leading lady Mrunal Thakur, child actor Rohit Kamra as Arjun's son and of course Pankaj Kapur as Arjun's mentor, coach- who never fails to weave magic on screen.
Thakur's role as the wife who has to hold the fort while her husband whilst away years sitting at home is also a tough one to play. The two form a great pair- who show the digression of their relationship very well. The screenplay by Tinnanuri beautifully shows how the relationship between Arjun and Vidya changes with time due to circumstances. Marital discord is shown in many films, but many times makers fail to bring out the stillness that comes in a relationship that is at the brink of failing. In Jersey, both Thakur and Kapoor deal with their scenes beautifully. So does Kamra who infuses the perfect amount of maturity and innocence into his character.
The senior Kapur's character isn't that well fleshed out yet, as assistant coach and mentor, the veteran actor shines and especially in the last scene, where his character is shown to have aged tremendously, its a delight to watch Pankaj Kapur, speaking in a certain manner which is suitable to his character.
The film's cinematography by Anil Mehta and music by Sachet-Parampara are also praise worthy. Mehta creates the cricket scenes- which are in plenty- very engaging making the viewer immerse in the matches.
The film though could have been shorter. There are certain plot points that do not make sense. How a man who has been off -cricket for years, can make such a stupendous comeback in his first match after a sabbatical without any practice is slightly hard to believe. Also, there is a lot of background commentary - which is typical of all sports films- which after a point seems unnecessary.
'Jersey' though, still scores six for it has its heart at the right place. For its endearing story of a father wanting to do better for his son and for its underdog story. A well-written script, aided with performances by its credible actors makes 'Jersey' worth a watch.