Titled Jaadugar (translated: Magician) in Hindi, the film about a magician and his football-loving family is the latest from Netflix India. Written by Biswapati Sarkar, the film is a reunion between Sarkar and film star Jitendra Kumar, who first met on a project in 2012. Is there magic in this partnership?


The essentials: Meenu (Jitendra Kumar) is an amateur magician unlucky in love due to his inability to listen and whose father was once a famous soccer player. His father’s biggest dream was to win the trophy for the local football tournament – a goal his father’s brother has embraced by forming a mixed team. The final piece of the puzzle is Meenu, who reluctantly joins. Elsewhere, Meenu falls in love with a local doctor and must win her father over to marry her.

What will it remind you of?: The film clearly targets comedic versions of landmark Bollywood sports films such as lagan and Dangal (the latter is even mentioned by name), but does not reach the heights of these films. And if you’re talking about the intersection of magic and football, you have to refer to Stephen Chow’s groundbreaking 2001 film, Shaolin Soccer.

Notable performance: Lalli is primarily a comic relief (he has a great aside about Suniel Shetty’s career) but is also an endearing presence to Meenu. He also has some really crazy but fun hair.

Memorable dialogue: A common thread throughout the film is Meenu’s inability to listen to his partner – instead, he falls in love with the idea of ​​them. The chorus: “Just falling in love with someone isn’t love. Loving someone is love,” comes up a few times throughout the film and is a cinematic piece of dialogue that actually works.

gender and skin: none.

Our opinion: It’s hard to say what exactly the story of this film is, and this is its biggest downfall. It meanders through much of its nearly three-hour runtime, oscillating between romance, sports drama, coming-of-age film, and slapstick comedy. This is usually the essence of a “Masala” Hindi film, but unfortunately this one lacks a compass pointing the film north.

At the beginning of the film I wondered how he would find a way to combine the sports story with the magic story and the love story. Spoiler alert: It didn’t do that — at least not successfully. At the end of the movie, I’m not sure if this was a movie about a wizard overcoming his hatred for his family’s favorite sport, or about a man having to choose between football and magic, or if it was about that went following the heart to love, or whether it was about the power of teamwork. Maybe it was all of the above that makes a messy movie.

Jitendra Kumar is perfectly fine in the lead role of Meenu, even if it’s impossible to root for his character. He’s obsessed with love, but self-centered in every way – his inability to listen to what the women in his life are saying is portrayed as endearing when it genuinely infuriates. He’s not really good at magic OR soccer, and his grand gestures are more pathetic than anything.

There are a few catchy song numbers (yes, the film takes a cue from the quintessential Bollywood song-and-dance) but I would advise you not to sit through the whole film to get to them.

Our appeal: SKIP IT. The three-hour film doesn’t know what it’s about and feels directionless for most of its runtime.

Radhika Menon (@menonrad) is a television-obsessed writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in Paste Magazine, Teen Vogue, Vulture, and more. She can always think about Friday Night Lights, the University of Michigan, and the perfect slice of pizza. You can call them Rad.

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