Good Luck Jerry adds to Hindi cinema’s bright dark comedies!

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Janhvi Kapoor plays Jaya Kumari or Jerry in Good Luck Jerry. Photo: Raindrop Media

Dark comedies, as a genre in Hindi cinema, are rare. Rarer still are good dark comedies. The few good ones include Sankat City (2009), Delhi Belly (2011), AndhaDhun (2018), Lootcase and Ludo (both in 2020) apart from the landmark entertainers Hera Pheri (2000) and Bhool Bhulaiya (2007). Not really a big list if you consider the many and erratic attempts at black humor. So, can Good Luck Jerry enter the hallowed portals of my favorite dark comedies? Let us see.

The first and foremost requisite of a dark comedy is the principal fact to remember: that it is a comedy. In the really good ones, it is the baddies who get bumped off, but over here, an innocent man is killed too. True, both he and the other “innocent” man are actually criminals, but you have to watch the film to know how and why they are killed, and that is where the film goes into a wrong zone that could have been prevented with some cerebral effort.

That said, the film still works as a whole, because a lot of the humor here is hilarious, and of course situational. The film chooses to zoom past a sequence that should have been fleshed out longer—what happens to the gang’s operative leader Timmy (Jaswant Singh Dalal) when he requests a message. Thankfully, it remains the only significant faux pas in the humor agenda.

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But we are jumping ahead. Good Luck Jerry is basically the story of Jerry a.k.a. Jaya Kumari (Janhvi Kapoor), who lives with her sister Cherry a.k.a. Chhaya Kumari (Samta Sudiksha) and mother Sharbati (Mita Vashist) happily in Punjab. They have come there from Bihar and are content even if not well-to-do after the death of the man of the house. Jerry works at a massage parlor, and the family neighbor (Neeraj Sood) has a soft corner for them all as he is fond of the widow!

Jerry and Cherry also have their admirers in the neighborhood too, and Jerry’s one is the wannabe-hep and desperate Rinku (Deepak Dobriyal). Things in general are fine until Sharbati is diagnosed with cancer and 2 million are needed for her treatment. Jerry does not know how, but she is determined to save her mother’s life.

One day, the cops, led by Inspector Lal (Rajender Sethi) are after a drug peddling gang. Jerry and her sister happen to be there and it is because Jerry accidentally opens a door in a shopping complex that one of the culprits is arrested. The two sisters are accosted by the gang and Jerry is told to retrieve the drugs from a ‘gents’ washroom where the arrested man has hidden them. Cherry, until then, will remain hostage!

The mission is accomplished successfully by Jerry, but one of the men holding Cherry drops his wallet and she gets to know the address of the gang. She goes and meets Timmy and offers her services to deliver the drugs. Initially reluctant, Timmy and gang realize that they are on to a good thing as no one will suspect Jerry. Timmy convinces his boss Daler (Sushant Singh) and Jerry begins her new work, delivering the dope to the eccentric distributor Malik (Saurabh Sachdeva).

Things flow smoothly for a while and Sharbati’s treatment begins. But soon, a scary situation arises and Jerry is demoralized. Timmy has already warned her that once she is ‘in’ there will be no ‘out’, but using the advantage of his soft corner for her, she pleads with him and he relents.

Of course, his warning comes true and all hell breaks loose in the lives of Jerry and family, and even Anil uncle and the girls’ admirers get unwittingly involved. The cop plays a key role as he gets on the tracks of the crime and faces a truly loopy situation in the climax.

Director Siddharth Sen shows immense potential for the future with this debut film, which, creditably for a South Indian remake, avoids the frame-to-frame trap and integrates great and attractive nuances of a North Indian small town, the culture and language. This makes the film score like a fresh movie, unlike Jersey, Operation Romeo, Forensic and Hit: The First Case.

Siddharth exhibits a sense for subtle yet hilarious humor, best seen in Jerry’s introduction, the interaction between the family and Anil Uncle, Rinku’s reaction during the trip that will take Sharbati to hospital, and above all, in Jerry’s visit to the men’s washroom. The scene where Timmy rebukes Jigar (Sahil Mehta) for being uncivil with the girls is another example of ingenious fun.

Pankaj Matta’s dialogues are superb, his script racy and the songs (Parag Chhabra) in sync with the needs but by themselves not memorable. The lyrics (Rajshekhar of Tanu Weds Manu Returns fame) do make a mark, however, especially Jhand ba and Cutie cutie. Technically upbeat (the production design by Swapnil Bhalerao     and Madhur Madhavan is magnificent in particular), the film’s other standout feature is its terrific and unusual background score by Aman Pant.

The performances are uniformly extraordinary, with Janhvi Kapoor proving the mettle I had sensed in her debut film, Dhadak, and which was vindicated also in Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl. She is perfect as the determined mix of a girl-woman who is remarkably adaptive to circumstances and is yet innocent. Her last sequence with Lal is terrific.

Mita Vashist, Neeraj Sood, Deepak Dobriyal, Jaswant Singh Sushant Singh Dalal, Saurabh Sachdeva, Mohan Kamboj as Daddu—they are all perfectly cast and excellently essay their roles. Sahil Mehta must be specially mentioned—his eyes do a lot of talking and he looks every centimeter the kinky Sardar. And if Samta Sudiksha and Rajender Sethi fall short here, it is only in comparison. By themselves, they are better than good.

Just like this film itself.

Rating: ***1/2

 

 

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