Varun Dhawan: 'Jugjugg Jeeyo’s' USP is that it is rooted in Indianness

The comedy drama starring Kiara Advani, Anil Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor is out now in the UAE



by

Ambica Sachin

Published: Fri 24 Jun 2022, 4:48 PM

Last updated: Sat 25 Jun 2022, 6:31 PM

“I miss your office,” Varun Dhawan’s comment at the onset of our Zoom interview is reflective of the sad reality of a Covid-hit era where film promotions for the most part are limited to onscreen interactions. But that’s not to say the star cast of Raj Mehta’s Jugjugg Jeeyo including Dhawan, Kiara Advani, Anil Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor have not been living it up with their all India promotional blitzkrieg ahead of the release of the family comedy drama.

The rapport between the lead pair is evident with Dhawan deadpanning ‘we don’t like each other at all,” and Kiara with a laugh retorting that they are “really good actors.”

But jokes apart Kiara admits that it was hard sometimes to separate their off screen relationship with their onscreen personas. She points out that their fun and banter on set was a source of worry for their director Raj (Good Newwz) who would constantly chide them; “Guys, can you be mature, you’re getting divorced in the film, can you play your parts…”

In Jugjugg Jeeyo the duo play an embittered couple Kukoo Saini and Naina Sharma who fly down to Patiala from Canada for a family wedding with the intention of informing their extended family about their decision to divorce. In the midst of the big fat Punjabi wedding festivities they come to learn that Kukoo's dad Bheem (a dapper Anil Kapoor) is also contemplating a divorce from his dutiful wife Geeta (an elegant Neetu Kapoor) which leads to much chaos.

Divorce drama

While many Bollywood movies have dealt with the topic of divorce, having an out and out entertainer like Jugjugg Jeeyo handle such a sensitive topic seems tricky specially going by the frivolous manner in which it is treated in the trailer. After all how do you interject a serious subject like divorce in the midst of a comedy?

“That’s what’s unique about the film,” explains Varun. “How you incorporate a subject like divorce and make it fun and comic…”

The film handles the subject with a lot of gravitas despite the situational humour, explains Kiara. “Jugjugg Jeeyo has a perspective that’s quite progressive and it is quite fresh which has not been seen before,” she says.

At the same time Varun is also clear that “the purpose of the film is not to preach, it is just to entertain.” And in the end the movie is not just about divorce, he says, it is also about marriage, family, romance and love.

Real to reel

With perhaps a few exceptions like October and Sui Dhaaga, Varun’s repertoire seems to be filled with larger-than-life, ‘paisa vasool’ characters that typically appeal to a mass audience. While he admits that was 100 per cent the charm of his character in Jugjugg Jeeyo, he also had to draw on his other skills as an actor in this one since, “I’m playing a son, a husband and a brother - three roles which men have to play in their daily life, and you don’t want to fail at any of them because you don’t want to let down these people.

“It was a very challenging role to play,” he admits. “I feel this character has a lot of heroism which comes through as the film progresses. Just to stand up for your loved ones is sometimes difficult when the situation becomes uncomfortable.”

As for Kiara she says among all the characters she has played so far Naina is the one she instantly connected with since she is very progressive and close to who she is in real life.

“She is today’s woman and this is something I feel that I had not seen in a commercial Hindi film. You always see a daughter-in-law or a wife in a specific way and here her (Naina’s) ability to balance her personal and professional life is what appealed to me. There was a lot of gravitas to it that made me feel today’s women will connect to her the way I did which excited me.”

Wooing audiences back

Jugjugg Jeeyo comes at a time when cinemas worldwide are desperately trying to woo back audiences to theaters in the aftermath of arguably the biggest pandemic the world has seen in recent times. With its lavish scale of production, extravagant song and dance sequences and an overdose of melodrama and situational comedy, the movie looks like exactly what the doctor has prescribed to bring hardcore Bollywood fans back to the big screen.

“We have gone through a lean period all over the world in cinemas, “ Varun admits. “We just saw a major big blockbuster in Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 which Kiara and Kartik (Aaryan) did which just shows that people do want to come but they want to see stuff that is completely rooted in Indian culture, that they can relate to.”

“The best thing about Jugjugg Jeeyo,” he goes on to add “is that it is filled with happiness and rooted in Indianness. That’s the film’s USP. The character is very Indian - we are not trying to behave like characters from any other country.”

Kiara points out that, “I also feel that the mood of the people is such that they want to come to the theatre after two years and see something that will uplift you, make you happy and spread joy.”

“I feel really blessed - both these films come at a time where you are going back into the theatres with your family.”

Big screen appeal

Cinema today has to also compete with some quality content on various OTT platforms, which has impacted its viewership. “I’ve watched stuff independently at home,” says Kiara. “We’ve got some great stuff on OTT, you could watch it on your own and be happy, but these are films which will be so much more enjoyable when you go with everyone, your family, loved ones.”

Nostalgically referring to the pre Covid period she says; “I miss that. In India our biggest entertainment over the weekend is going to the theatre. Cinema is such a big part of our culture and our entertainment and we missed that and we are happy it is back with Jugjugg Jeeyo - to share our family with your families! We just want to spread happiness and joy right now.”

Varun animatedly joins in on the case of big screen extravaganzas; “We have to make films that appeal to everyone. Even if we are trying to change mindsets, we can only do that if we are doing it on the big scale, you can’t do that on the small scale…”

As for whether it is mass appeal or critical appeal that drives them in the industry, both are very clear where their choice lies. “For me films are there just for entertainment,” says Varun. “I am just an actor and I want to entertain the mass.

"Obviously when I do a Badlapur or an October my attempt is to entertain everyone and those films will get put in a box sometimes. But I feel those are like a test match - the love keeps coming as days and years progress and some are instant gratification like a T-20.”

And from all indications Jugjugg Jeeyo clearly belongs to the latter category.

Jugjugg Jeeyo is currently playing in UAE theatres


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