Jehanabad – of Love and War Review: A Serious Attempt to Tell the Story of India’s Small Towns

Jehanabad – of Love and War Review: A Serious Attempt to Tell the Story of India’s Small Towns

Jehanabad - of Love and War Review: A Serious Attempt to Tell the Story of India's Small Towns

Jehanabad – Of Love and War is now streaming on SonyLIV, and is a dramatized account of an actual escape by Naxalites that took place in November 2005, in Jehanabad, Bihar. The drama-thriller from showrunner Sudhir Mishra and director Rajeev Barnwal also tackles various other topics relevant to the setting of its small town, including local politics and crime, customs and traditions, and the caste equations that plague business. typical of semi-urban areas. Bihar. While the heart of the plot is based on true events, the majority of this show is a fictional story loosely tied to the actual events themselves. Read on for our spoiler-free review of Jehanabad – Of Love and War.

It’s worth pointing out here that Jehanabad – Of Love and War isn’t a big budget production and has a cast full of actors you know you’ve seen somewhere, but can’t immediately put your finger on exactly where. . The sets and filming locations also feel a little strange and out of place – it feels more like an affluent suburb of a big city in India than the small, semi-urban town that Jehanabad in Bihar actually is.

The show starts off strong enough with a scene of violence and the kidnapping of a groom from his own wedding. However, most of the show from this point on plays out as a flashback, which takes away some of the intensity of the opening scene and slows things down considerably.

Still, there’s a certain appeal to this story for many due to its setting and perhaps the deliberate whitewashing of the scene. It often takes on tones of edginess and intellectualism that set it apart from most of what you tend to find on Indian OTT platforms, and is quite well-suited to its Gen-z and millennial target audience.

This includes young and handsome actors, a fairly frequent use of English as a plot device to indicate the level of education of certain characters, and a somewhat edgy synth-pop background score. The dialects used are reasonably suited to the setting and location of the show, but not too much; it helps to make the language and the dialogues a bit easier to understand for all Hindi speakers.

Jehanabad – Of Love and War also spends some time looking at social issues such as caste-based discrimination and conservative values ​​in small Indian towns that tend to promote patriarchy and gender-based inequality. sex. It tries to take a fairly progressive line with it, but ends up spending more time focusing on the romantic angle between the two leads and its implications in the larger scheme of things.

I found some of the casting choices a little odd. Arguably Jehanabad’s best-known actor is Rajat Kapoor (recently seen in Drishyam 2), who seems too posh and suave to play his character Shivanand Singh, the former local MP and strongman with deep ties to dirty politics and caste equations. of the region.

While he’s undeniably the antagonist linchpin of the entire timeline, Shivanand Singh doesn’t at any point seem as scary (or even as realistic) as he should, with the role essentially driven solely by the clear, direct dialogue. Rajat Kapoor seems largely lost in the role, with his greatest strengths – the ability to speak both Hindi and English with proficiency and fluency, as well as his sophisticated looks – going to be wasted because of the character chosen for him. .

The same goes for some of the other characters in the series, including Parambrata Chattopadhyay who plays the role of Deepak Kumar, a Naxalite leader captured and imprisoned for political reasons. His inclinations and suggested level of dangerousness aren’t very believable throughout the series, though he does manage to provide some surprises and twists through a well-practiced “evil” smile.

Others, like Jagmohan Kumar (Suneel Sinha) more convincingly play the role of a ruthless Naxalite commander willing to do anything to achieve his organization’s goals, including ordering the murder of innocent civilians drawn into the plot through negligence. of his own organization. Called “Guruji” by his comrades, he comes across as the most manipulative and cunning of all the antagonists.

This also brings me to the lack of a firm division in Jehanabad between the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’. The police are portrayed as corrupt and politically motivated, while the political classes engage in vote bank politics and the expected level of intrigue. Most “innocent” civilians may not be guilty of actual wrongdoing, but are certainly indifferent to social issues such as caste-based discrimination and acceptance of opposing political views.

The most compelling performances in Jehanabad – Of Love and War come from Harshita Gaur and Satyadeep Mishra, who play Kasturi Mishra and Durgesh Pratap Singh, the Jehanabad District Police Superintendent. The rest of the cast, including lead Ritwik Bhowmik as Abhimanyu Singh, just doesn’t deliver a performance worth remembering and seems too predictable.

Gaur plays well as Kasturi, a regular middle-class but politically well-connected student who controls much of the screen time on Jehanabad – Of Love and War. She also seems most convincing as a resident of a small town in Bihar, something the rest of the cast doesn’t pull off so easily. Satyadeep Mishra, despite playing the role of a corrupt senior cop, manages to come across as the smartest character in the series by a large margin, although his opponents manage to stay one step ahead of him until at the end.

The love story itself is predictable and often boring; Jehanabad – Of Love and War spends far too much time on this, and not enough on the much more interesting and engaging political plot leading up to the infamous jailbreak. While the main jailbreak plot tries to stick to real-life events, the series manages to sensibly fit its own story of events, with an action-packed finale that helps tie all the details together.

The actual event which took place in November 2005 saw hundreds of heavily armed Naxalites attack a jail and liberate prisoners in the jail, in the guise of a siege and battle on the streets of the city of Jehanabad .

Overall, Jehanabad – Of Love and War’s short episodes and interesting political and social elements make up for the sometimes slow and somewhat boring main story. It’s worth watching from an educational and historical perspective, even if the performances don’t quite tell the story as well as it deserved to be told.

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