JugJugg Jeeyo is not free of typical Bollywood tropes, a childhood romance turned into marriage, ideal parent figures, a successful wife and insecure husband and a loud and hysterical brother-in-law, and all of this in a Punjabi household. While this alone gives a taste of what the film might be, if you have watched the trailer, you'd know the plot as well. Surprisingly, beneath all the humor and drama, the film has actually more to say.
The film starts with the childhood romance of Naina (Kiara Advani) and Kuku (Varun Dhawan) blooming into a relationship and them eventually marrying. This all plays out within a song. While their relationship survived the test of time for more than a decade before they tie knots, five years into marriage and their relationship falls apart, so much so that they want a divorce. They both move to Canada after marriage as Naina's career demands so. While she is doing well in her career, she stands tall with perfect hair in jet black outfits, Kuku works as a bouncer in some bar which has made him grumpy, frustrated and insecure. After they confront each other, on their fifth anniversary, they tell each other they want a divorce. After this, they go home to Patiala for Ginny's (Kuku's sister) wedding and decide to act as a 'happy couple' for the occasion. What follows ahead is a series of relationships and their truths unfolding one after the other, taking you on a ride full of humor and melodrama.
The film very subtly talks about the dynamics of familial relationships and how they affect the kids who grow up and strive to be like their parents. Little do they know that perfection is an illusion. While Varun decides to tell his father, Bheem (Anil Kapoor) about the divorce after a few drinks down, the trick turns back on him as his father says that he wants a divorce from his mom. Later in the film, it is also revealed that Bheem is in fact cheating on his wife with Kuku's high school Mathematics teacher. While all of this may sound pretty serious while reading, all of this plays out with lots of humor on screen. Kuku obviously is devastated and takes it upon himself to save his parent's marriage, on the other hand, Ginny, who is in love with someone else, is only marrying to get 'settled' and have a life full of love and peace like her parents, unaware of the realities of her parents' relationship.
Kiara Advani in the film is a revelation and arguably the best of the lot. It is also refreshing to see quite a strong and appropriate portrayal of a modern independent woman, without her being an alcoholic or chain smoker. So is the case with Neetu, who plays the typical Punjabi mother with just enough care and delicacy, without giving in to the stereotypes. Contradictory to their wives, Kuku and Bheem are loud and entitled and want everything to work their way. Gender dynamics also come into play, especially in scenes with Kiara and Varun, where both of them argue about how each other's decisions have affected each other's life.
In one scene in the film, when Naina and Varun go into a heated argument about having kids, career, life decisions and respect, it reminded me of two similar scenes. The overtly dramatic argument between Preity Zinta and Shah Rukh Khan in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna and the other one from the academy-winning Marriage Story plays out between Scarlett Johanson and Adam Driver. What Varun and Kiara present is something that hangs in between those two scenes, it has the rawness of the latter and the melodrama of the former.
The film is very distinctive in its first and second half. While the first half is more fun and makes you chuckle almost at all instances, the second half follows the main confrontations are more dramatic and emotional. Also, in the first half, the focus lies more on Kiara and Varun's relationship, in the second half, the film delves deep into the dynamics of Anil and Neetu.
Anil Kapoor, being the master of his art, is very fun to watch. Even with all his entitlement and schemes, he is still very much likeable, at least till a little ahead of the climax. Special kudos to Manish Paul who plays Naina's brother and Kuku's best friend. He, in his tacky branded clothes, along with Anil Kapoor, is the reason for most of the laughs.
While it's a delight to see Neetu back on screen, she struggles to leave a mark. Anil Kapoor in a way is the soul of the film, with most of the story playing out as a consequence of his shenanigans. Varun, while being his "usual on-screen self," leaves you questioning and a little annoying about why Kuku is always eager to create a scene out of everything. All of Kuku's confrontations have to be over the top and played out in public, for no good reason. Prajakta Kohli doesn't add a lot to the film and is just there. The film, in the end, is all things Bollywood, but with fresh goodness to it.