My pick this week is a 2019 Telugu film called Jersey. You might have heard the name in connection with Shahid Kapoor who is playing the lead in the Hindi remake. That film is set to release sometime this year but before that, I urge you to find the original. Jersey is the story of a man who spends much of his life dealing with failure. Arjun is a talented cricket player who quits the game in his twenties and then attempts to revive his career when he is 36 years old. The scenario might remind you of Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s Panga, in which Kangana Ranaut played a 32-year-old kabaddi player, who tries to make a comeback after motherhood. It’s an impossible dream. But the difficulty of the ascent only makes the climb more memorable.
Also Read: My Movie Milestone: Nani On Jersey
What sets Jersey apart from the standard sports film is that so much of it focuses on Arjun’s struggle to keep his fledgling family together. The script, written by director Gowtam Tinnauri, hopscotches back and forth in time. For the first hour, we see flashes of the star Arjun was on the cricket field but mostly we see his failure off the ground. He has been suspended from his job and he isn’t much help to his wife whose job is keeping their family afloat. Their relationship, which started as a passionate love affair, is now strained to its breaking point. The only joy in Arjun’s life is his young son who adores his father unconditionally.
Arjun is a difficult man. He is frustrated by his circumstances, unable to be either a good husband or father. Tinnauri isn’t afraid of making him occasionally unlikable. The director, and actor Nani who plays him, construct Arjun as a human hero. Which means that he gets his whistle-worthy moments and slow-motion shots on the playing field but we also see him stumble and break. Nani finds this sweet spot effortlessly. The actor carries the film with his terrific performance. Watch out also for Shraddha Srinath as Arjun’s wife Sarah and especially Ronit Kamra as his son. Tinnauri uses Ronit’s charm and innocence skillfully, without overplaying it.
Jersey is unapologetically dramatic. The story might stretch believability but it never stops being emotionally convincing. At the end, you’ll be inspired and weepy, which is a great combination. You can see the film on Zee5.