A good series gives you a comprehensive look at the world it has created through its characters. It somewhere gives you that space to explore the same story through the perspectives of different characters. Set in the times of India’s independence, the new series from Vikramaditya Motwane and Soumik Sen, Jubilee, is a love letter to the early days of Hindi cinema. With palpable drama mixed with compelling twists, Jubilee feels quite like a masala Hindi film in its DNA, despite having a series format.
Shrikant Roy, the owner of Roy Talkies, is pursuing a new actor to whom he can give the pseudonym of Madan Kumar for his dream project Sunghursh. He has actually found a theater actor named Jamshed Khan in Lucknow. When Jamshed showed little interest in being a film star, Roy sent his man Friday Binod Das to convince Jamshed to accept the acting gig. We witness how Binod’s real motive changes the purpose of that journey and how it changes everything for many people in Jubilee.
The nuances in the script and the efforts to keep it a series that acknowledges the advancement in how movies were conceived and perceived make Jubilee very special from a cinephile point of view. Usually, when they create content about this era, they make the mistake of making characters behave like characters from the movies of that era. The writing by Atul Sabharwal keeps verbal communication very much in a real space, with a pinch of that old-school charm.
The series starts at the time of separation and ends around the time of state formation. And they have shown us the introduction of the cinemascope, which was a big deal back in the day. What is great about the writing is that it places these factual points to create pivotal moments in this series. The story here is a classic drama. Characters are constantly conflicted about choosing something over the other. But from the cold war and Ceylone radio to the Studio culture that ruled Hindi cinema at one point, Vikramaditya Motwane embeds these elements very skillfully to create a story that feels very engaging even without having too many twists.
Like that era’s movies, this show also depends significantly on the actors’ performances. Aparshakti Khurana, as Binod Das, gets to play this internalized conflicted character that is unlike any other character he has played till now, and he registers as Madan Kumar very quickly. Sidhant Gupta as the passionate romantic filmmaker with his share of ethical conflicts, was a surprisingly excellent performance. Wamiqa Gabbi, as Niloufer Qureshi, gets a character that is straight from a Bhansali universe. She is broken, brave, and beautiful, and Wamiqa transitioned through the various phases of that character beautifully.
Prosenjit Chatterjee, as the snooty studio head Shrikant Roy had that perfect attitude of a businessman studio head. Aditi Rao Hyderi doesn’t really have a particular patch in the series where her character gets prominence. But the sporadic scenes clearly give us an idea about Sumitra Kumari, and what we see in that climax episode clearly makes us empathize with her, just like Niloufer. Ram Kapoor as the arrogant financier Walia was fabulous. So was Nandish Sandhu as Jamshed Khan. Shweta Basu Prasad and Arun Govil are also part of the stellar cast of this series.
Vikramaditya Motwane had been a long-time associate of Mr. Sanjay Leela Bhansali. If you look at his filmography, the signature grandeur and scale one sees in a Bhansali creation has not really been an element of Motwane’s creations. But Jubilee feels like a series where Vikram uses his Bhansali experience to the full extent. From the whole scale of recreating the world of the late 1940s to some precisely dramatic frames, Motwane treats it in a more cinematic way. Pratik Shah’s cinematography and quality production design put us in the middle of all the drama. Amit Trivedi’s tracks are just magical, and he created great melodies that had the texture of those great black-and-white era songs.
Even though it is set in a time and age far away from the modern-day functioning of the film industry, Jubilee gives an empathetic perspective about the people in show business. In the last minutes of the tenth episode, Vikramaditya Motwane shows us a semi-montage using the scenes from the first few episodes. Those few seconds of recap somewhere give you an idea about our lead characters’ eventful journey.
With palpable drama mixed with compelling twists, Jubilee feels quite like a masala Hindi film in its DNA, despite having a series format.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended