Jubilee on Amazon Prime is the new series from Vikramaditya Motwane who earlier gave us Sacred Games (2018) on Netflix.
It’s set in newly independent and partitioned India of the late 40s and early 50s when the Hindi movie industry was in its nascent years. The atmosphere created with the snazzy clothes, swanky huge cars (man those cars looked comfy and superb), the music and the sepia toned visuals is befitting of the era. This is the Bombay when Punjabis and Sindhis poured in from their original home which was now suddenly known as Pakistan. It’s a work of fiction but there are glimpses and hints, some big some small, of stars of that era like Himanshu Rai and his wife Devika Rani who ran their own studio Bombay Talkies, or Ashok Kumar or Guru Dutt. The music by Amit Trivedi is fantastic and evokes the vibe of that era perfectly.
Aparshakti Khurana who has always played the best friend of the hero in movies and has lived in the shadow of his more famous brother Ayushman, gets a meaty gray role as the yes man and fixer who wants to be a star and he makes the most of it. Prosenjit Chatterjee and Aditi Rao Hyadari as the scheming husband and wife studio heads are the wealthy elite who will go to lengths to hold on to that power. Sidhant Gupta as the hungry upstart Jay Khanna and Wamiqa Gabbi as Nilofer doing whatever it takes to make it in a man’s world. Arun Govil (Shri Ram of Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan (1987) super fame) has a dad role. (I’m sure he is much in demand in the last few years in the Yogi belt) Ram Kapoor steals the show as financier Walia and his colorful phrase peppered throughout and said with gusto is “Madan Kumar Bhenc***”, made me crack up every time. (Other characters also use it often enough that it may as well serve as the leitmotif tagline of the show 😀).
There are some nods to the Cold War rivalry between the Soviet Union and the US, including an interesting take on why All India Radio banned Hindi movie songs in its airwaves for a few years giving rise to Radio Ceylon’s iconic Binaca Geetmala.
There are portions which could have been cut short - maybe 8 episodes would have sufficed instead of 10 - but that’s a minor quibble. Overall it’s a superior offering on Indian streaming with a different period setting, vibe and pace that sets it apart in a sea of look alike crime dramas that use gratuitous language and violence just for shock and awe.
April 29, 2023