First time director Banty Dubey’s film may be devoid of stars, but it’s rich in sentimental value
Rating: 3 /5
By Mayur Lookhar
God gives his hardest battles to the strongest soldiers. Often one throws up this phrase while motivating a noble soul who is going through a prolonged tough time. The motivating words last as much as their length, but seldom do anyone comeback later to tell what happened to their dear ones. The sympathies that follow is more an afterthought.
The sane souls in first time director Banty Dubey’s Jacqueline I Am Coming are left reflecting on their action rather inaction, which has left a noble soul despondent forever.
Kashi Tiwari [Raghubir aka Raghuvir Yadav] is a lonely (probably) quadragenarian who works as an officer in the P.W.D [Public Works Department] in a small town in Madhya Pradesh. Having lost his parents at an early age, Tiwari is raised by his uncle Govind (Sushil Parwana). Tiwari finds a new vigour in life after he falls for Jacqueline Mendes (Diiva Dhanoya). Against the wishes of his uncle, the Hindu Brahmin elopes with the Christian lady. Religious barrier though is a just tiny part of the film.
Jacqueline has long suffered from epilepsy. Sadly a tragedy only aggravates her mental condition. Left with no option, Tiwari admits her in a mental asylum. After years, the woman shows little signs of recovery. Tiwari is hopeful of taking his wife home. Unfortunately, things don’t turn out as he wished.
Penned by Banty’s brother Pinku, Jacqueline I Am Coming is not quite a tear jerker, but it rides on its sentimental value. Pinku’s also penned the screenplay and dialogues. The first half has its few tender moments, but the film truly hits on your senses in the second half when Tiwari takes a drastic step.
Raghubir Yadav is an underrated seasoned professional. He’s the only Indian actor who has the maximum films nominated for Oscars. He’s largely featured in supporting roles in his career.
When they first harbour celluloid dreams, every Indian actor dreamt of playing the romantic hero. In 1989, Yadav played the lead in the Prakash Jha directed romantic comedy TV series Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapne. He’s never really played the conventional romantic hero though on silver screen. At 62, it’s next to impossible to indulge into song and dance. Jacqueline I Am Coming is an emotional drama but nevertheless, Yadav chips in with an emotionally gripping performance that make you forget his age. Credit though to the make-up artiste who worked hard to give the 62-year-old a younger look.
It’s not the age though but the maturity of Yadav that helps him play Kashi Tiwari with humility and conviction.
Tiwari’s life can be reflected in two halves. The first is that of an ideal lonely quadragenarian. Loneliness has turned him into a workaholic, one who is first to arrive and last to leave. He respects all his lethargic colleagues, talks gently to the office peon. Often the lonely nice guys are good at interpersonal skills at office. They feel a sense of belonging in an official crowd, but this behaviour often has the ‘formality’ strings attached to it.
Show genuine love and such a person would cling onto to it like toads to flies. Not an obsessed lover, but Tiwari is deeply attached to Jacqueline. There is a sense of helplessness but Tiwari would do anything to save her. It’s not entirely a mushy relationship as Tiwari and Jacqueline, too, have their odd moment of frustration. This frustration is one way though when Jacqueline’s mental condition worsens.
Tiwari and Jacqueline’s ordeal partly rekindles the struggles of Julianne Moore and Alec Badlwin in Still Alice (2014), Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva in Amour (2012), and George Clooney and Patricia Hastie in The Descendants (2011).
It’s difficult for Indian filmmakers to depict pain at length for that runs the risk of your film being labelled a sob story. The first half threatens to go along that route, but the drastic events in the second half give a new direction to the film.
Diiva Dhanoya is an unknown quantity. She carries the look of a mentally ill person well. Often that draws a blank but an intense face. You ought to be critical of Banty Dubey for he never gets more out of Dhanoya when Jacqueline was in a stable condition. The girl is shy and reserved but she agrees to Tiwari’s proposal to gorge on local sweets. The next sequence, we see the couple seeking their respective father’s permission. The rushed writing doesn’t allow more time for this romance to blossom. It’s not that they lack chemistry, but a few more scenes of the couple courting each other would have added immense value to the film. It’s unfair to judge Dhanoya on this performance, but the lady shows fine composure.
While Raghubir and Diiva are impressive, but they are let down by the supporting cast. Most of them just appear to be going through the motions.
A mental asylum has been poorly stereotyped in the past. In the 1990’s, doctors and staff at mental hospitals were often portrayed as sadist men/women who derived pleasure in giving electrical shocks to their patients. There is no such thing here, but the hospital director Dr.Arjun (Shakti Kumar) does reflect back on his insensitivity. Without being at mental asylums, it’s unfair to pass judgment on the fraternity, but the film calls for having sensitivity while dealing with mentally ill patients.
It’s this insensitivity that justifies the title ‘Jacqueline I Am Coming’. Despite its shortcomings, it’s the performance of Raghubir Yadav and Diiva Dhanoya that should draw you to this emotional drama. Do come for Jacqueline and Kashi are waiting.