'Jaadugar' movie review: A whole lotta love, some magic, and no proper goal
- 'Jaadugar' is now titled 'Love Goals'
- The movie is 167 minutes long
- Jitendra Kumar of 'Kota Factory' fame plays Meenu, the protagonist
'Jaadugar' - now titled 'Love Goals', was initially supposed to release under the latter name on Netflix. However, despite the planned name change sometime in the production process, the streamer decided to go with the original, and this is the least confusing thing in the 167-minute film, which runs way longer than it needs to.
Meet Meenu, or Magic Meenu, a boy in the small football-obsessed Indian town of Neemuch. Meenu, the movie's protagonist, is a lover and a magician, but he's not a footballer by any stretch of the imagination. The role is played by Jitendra Kumar of 'Kota Factory' fame, and the character falls in love almost immediately - a tip of the hat to old Bollywood movies. His girlfriends' names are telling as well. Iccha represents Meenu's desire while Disha adds direction to his life. Who's next, Shanti?
The plot combines love stories, magic shows, and a football tournament. But a story that could have tugged many heartstrings fails to make its audience care too much. Kumar, the strongest aspect of the film, is unsure all along whether to deliver a comic or a serious performance. But that is perhaps not as much the actor's fault as it is the film's.
'Love Goals' flits between motifs just as frequently as the Aadarsh Colony football team changes names. First Meenu loses Iccha and learns a hard lesson that falling in love is only half the job done. One actually has to love the other person to keep the relationship. Arushi Sharma's Disha eventually teaches him this lesson, but her performance is lacklustre at most.
The movie cannot decide whether it wants to be outright tacky or serious about its themes - among which inclusivity is well portrayed through Deepa, the female state-level player, and Riju, the sweeper, who's a magician with the ball.
Then there is Disha's father's directive - that Meenu should reach the finals of the football tournament - which comes as the classic Hindi movie trope of the challenge laid down to the hero.
Over the course of the film, Meenu's disdain for the colony football team turns into affection, and the theme that one's family is the most important starts to emerge. They start making progress in the tournament, despite all odds. Amidst this, Meenu's relationship with Disha blossoms until her father gives him the hero's dilemma - yet another classic narrative point. Meenu must now lose the final to win Disha's hand.
Football doesn't really have any ties with what's happening in Meenu's life. The underdog story of the football team and Meenu's quest for love only come together with this forceful edict from Disha's father, who happens to be the magician who inspired Meenu.
The team loses the match, but Meenu steps up and fulfils his footballing dreams by scoring a penalty. He also wins Disha's father's approval in the final moments of the film.
In some ways, Netflix's decision to alter the movie title has gone against the presentation of the film. The opening moments has Meenu decide he wants to be a "Jaadugar" or magician. In the final sequence, the team changes its name to "Jaadugars" because they want to win hearts, not trophies - not that they could throughout the immense runtime. In contrast, the currently displayed title "Love Goals" seems discordant.
The music is not too memorable either, but a word of appreciation must be set aside for the visuals, most evident during the football matches and the magic show that Meenu organizes for Disha outside her balcony.
'Love Goals' is ultimately a story that strings together many factors and characters, and then has about as much success as tying them together as the Aadarsh Colony football team has in coordinating their team play.
It could just as well have been a series, which is director Sameer Saxena's forte, instead of a movie that fails to really engage or keep viewers hooked. 'Love Goals' is streaming on Netflix, but if you really want a good football story, get yourself the 'Goal' trilogy to see how a Mexican boy makes it to the greatest footballing stage and finds love in the process as well.