It is not often that a series or a movie lives up to its hype. To be honest, it felt like “Jubilee” came out of nowhere. With very little promotion leading up to it, the series knocked it out of the park with its narrative and multifaceted characters. It has a deceptively slow pace, but each aspect of the narrative, even the supposedly long-drawn ones, did not allow us to look away from the screen for even a second. But the biggest revelation of all was Aparshakti Khurana. Though he debuted with “Dangal” in 2016, we became aware of him in 2017 with “Stree,” and he was firmly entrenched in our minds as the funny best friend. However, watching him in “Jubilee” made us think that he always had this potential. His effortlessness has been his USP, and it is this quality that he has carried through his range, from his comedic roles to the quiet yet sinister character of Binod Das.
The other person who caught our attention was Jay Khanna, played by Sidhant Gupta. Actors who primarily work in the Hindi television industry have a wealth of talent that is often neglected due to existing biases, and that is another reason to thank the OTT space for allowing us to see what they can offer. Our only gripe with his character and this might be a purely personal opinion, is that we wish his body language had been a bit less animated. Otherwise, he had an easy presence on screen, but in his scenes with Niloufer, played by Wamiqa Gabbi, she easily overshadowed him.
Wamiqa Gabbi has that old-world beauty and charm, and there couldn’t have been a better choice to play Niloufer. The “Nawabi Andaz” with which she hurled abuses should have had more screen time. Regardless, her on-screen friendship with Jay Khanna brought out a side of Ram Kapoor we want to keep seeing in everything he plays. He has done a lot of work over the years, but we specifically know him from his “Bade Achhe Lagte Hain” days, when he was the cranky yet sweetest leading man on screen. And just like Aparshakti Khurana, he knows how to be effortless, which is why we end up rooting for him even though he is on the verge of completely turning into an antagonist. He could have been the show stealer if only he had more screen time.
This is making us wonder: what if Ram Kapoor had played the role of Srikant Roy? Don’t get us wrong; Prasenjit Chatterjee was perfect, and his interpretation of the character was as good as it could get. But if only Ram Kapoor had played the role of Srikant Roy with the subtle animation hiding deep within that only the actor can control, the character might just have been something else. Additionally, and this might be a stretch, so just humor us, what if Prasenjit Chatterjee had played Walia? Walia’s interactions with others are infused with crude energy, which we don’t doubt the actor would have been able to play. But instead of the blunt reactions that Walia is undoubtedly going to give to the betrayals he will face in Part 2 of “Jubilee,” what if they had been executed with Prasenjit Chatterjee’s brand of sinisterness? This would have been an experimental casting, but it might just have worked wonders.
The cast of “Jubilee” is its real strength, despite the strong storyline. And while we are on the subject, maybe we can mention how, despite her elegance and the beautiful sarees that reportedly had people on set placing claims on them, Aditi Rao Hydari’s character is a bit one-dimensional. She plays the scorned wife who is ready to leave behind everything for the man she loves. She thinks more with her heart than her mind, and she is the only woman in the series to do so. The others are a bit more logical. We say this specifically because when she is trying to take down Binod, she doesn’t care about the repercussions on the studio and, by extension, her career. Maybe she was one of the characters who did not care what people thought. In that case, why did she not divorce her husband? Part 2 of the series might give us this answer.
Despite its flaws, its ups and downs, and the increasing public knowledge about the darkness behind the glamor, the entertainment industry is one of the most beloved careers in the world. “Jubilee” is a look at the ambitions of the people in it, which intertwine with the politics of the time to shape culture as we know it today. The set design, the scale of the production, and the purely cinematic moments (the rain scene with Niloufer and Jay) make this a treat to watch. We are generally put off by anything that is hyped too much because we have found that it is more marketing than substance. Such content is decently engaging at best instead of being a story worth telling. But “Jubilee” puts our pessimism to rest and restores our faith in the popular opinion of things. While we still think that parts of the characters’ journeys are missing, we don’t believe their inclusion would have made a difference to the story, so we are okay with it. Therefore, the only thing we have to say is that the hype is real, and “Jubilee” is a must-watch series that is unlike anything we have seen in recent times, simply by virtue of its quality and dedication to telling a good story above all else. Make sure to watch it as soon as you can.