What was cinema like in Bombay in the 1940s? We read and hear of course about the time of KA Abbat and Hasan Mantos Saadat. But what about mortals; auto and newshounds? An interesting answer is provided in the first act jubileein which the reporter, who is crying out, is surrounded by a crouching on a hook, and is driven away with a stick in his hand with arduous study. Teaching a little explained. The indignities of this profession, and the constant agitation, are nothing new.
Later in the series, more of a journalist: the editor of a famous newspaper flatters a goddess on the screen. A radio host peppered a chat with a sensational male star with a set of nude flattering questions from fans. Or – my favorite – a film review proclaiming that whatever the debutant actor-director lacks in skill, he “more than makes up for it with sincerity.” And he doesn’t just talk sweetly to the press. politicians, diplomats, social workers; Everyone is trying to win favors and gain some kind of influence in the film industry. We show that the complex interlocking advantage, the soft connection supporting the initial soft power.
Creators: Vikramaditya Motwane, Soumik Sen
Prosenjit Chatterjee, Aparshakti Khurana, Aditi Rao Hydari, Wamiqa Gabbi, Sidhant Gupta, Ram Kapoor, Nandish Singh Sandhu
Episodes: 10 in two parts
Runtime: 43-63 mins
Storyline: A low-level fixer becomes the biggest star of a 1940’s movie studio while reeling from paranoia and guilt.
The series begins in 1947, during the build-up to Independence. Binod (Aparshakti Khurana) is a fixer and assistant at Roy Talkies, a booming film studio in Bombay. His boss — the debonair, pipe-smoking Srikant Roy (Prosenjit Chatterjee) — sends him to Lucknow urgently on word. Srikant’s wife Sumitra Kumari (Aditi Rao Hydari), has an affair with Jamshed Khan (Nandish Singh Sandhu), a talented theater actor. Jamshed is to be launched under Roy Talkies marquee Madan Kumar (“Khans don’t become stars,” Binod explains to the stranger. Srikant urges Samos to wrap up his plan, and Binod arranges to bring his wife and adulterer back to Bombay).
If you’ve seen the trailer – or recognize any similar scandal from the 1930s, involving names like Himanshu Rai, Devika Rani and Ashok Kumar – you can predict what happens next. Lucknow unfolds like a noir-ish fever dream, with grisly accidents and riots breaking out. Jamshed, under mysterious circumstances, disappears from the face of the earth (this bit is pure fiction, or at least I hope so). And Binod, who secretly hopes to become an actor, becomes Madan Kumar next.
Directed and co-created by Vikramaditya Motwane, jubilee long and shiny. like Rocket Boy, attempts to tell the story of India by zooming in on one of the defining institutions. In the wake of Partition, Jay (Sidhant Gupta), a refugee from Karachi, takes over a bottle of Roy Talkies. Joined by Niloufer (Wamiqa Gabbi), a dancer and sex worker from Lucknow, he is now looking for small roles in films. Their aspirations, as always, do not match their material life: Jay lives in a squalid refugee camp, secretly further into the ‘Sindhi’ and ‘Punjabi’ districts. Niloufer, doing marginally better, remains a rich lady Seth (Aram Kapoor).
At 10 episodes long; jubilee circles with these characters and their fortunes wander or beyond Roy Talkies. Exhausted he escapes; The characters, although well written and acted, are fragmented and the ensemble lacks a truly gripping bite. So there is a more subtle explanation around the edges of the story. We learn the following music, written live in the old days, hence their stage looks and feel (Srikant dares to solve the wordiness by introducing syncing). One of the tracks about the power struggle between Russian and American actors are trying to push their propaganda in Indian cinema. There are still other barbarians; The German filmmaker working on Roy Talkies is a clear example of Franz Osten, the Bavarian film director Achhut Kannya and jeevannaiya.
jubilee a heavy visual is attempted Mumbai Velvet (2015), right down to the jasper clubs, the shiny vintage cars, and the pictures of criminals all floating around like chips of the deal. There is also a sonic challenge; Amit Trivedi composed the songs. Although the characters swear a lot, most delightfully when they invoke Madan Kumar’s name, the treatment of the series is all reverent. He doesn’t mock Motwane, or some of the prevailing satirists of that era. Perhaps he leaned in that direction; a funny character in Jubilee is Binodi’s eccentric younger brother, a singer-songwriter who is drawn unwillingly into life’s career. Guess who can do that?
Loose in nature at his cabin or screening camera, Prosenjit Chatterjee as Srikant Roy doesn’t get to flex his acting muscles in full. Aparshakti, in his dramatic debut, is wonderfully collected and brooding as Binodi telegraphs rising paranoia and guilt. Wamiqa Gabbi is frankly stunning in her reputation as one of the most prolific and beautiful actresses of our time. And Ram Kapoor is simply glorious to be greedy, but practical wise. When a fight breaks out in the fifth episode, he immediately intervenes, offering ready solutions to the quarreling parties. The film business, he argues, will benefit everyone, so there is no reason to compete. All movies are free.
The first five episodes of Jubilee now available on Amazon Video?