Perhaps unfairly, I question the maturity of filmmakers and writers who lean towards the scatological. And Good Luck Jerry doesn’t so much lean as jump in and wallow. Jerry (Janhvi Kapoor) is introduced in a rush to get home and use the loo. A little later, she has to retrieve a packet of cocaine from a filthy public toilet. The first time we see drug kingpin Daler (Sushant Singh), he’s on the can, busy—I apologize—sharting. And Kapoor says one of the dumbest lines ever to grace a trailer: “Aapki toh tatti bhi soongh lete hain na policewaale” (the cops can place you by the smell of your shit).
Siddharth Sen’s film eventually eases up on matters faecal and becomes a reasonably enjoyable, if thoroughly flawed, small-town-Punjab black comedy. After she inadvertently foils a cocaine pick-up, Jerry is recruited by drug-runner Timmy (Jaswant Singh Dalal) to retrieve and deliver the package to Daler. Though she’s terrified, she completes the assignment—and realizes the money is good, enough to pay for her mother’s cancer treatment (she works at a massage parlour, her mother sells momos). And so she becomes the most hesitant of mules, ferrying drugs back and forth in her tiffin box.
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Good Luck Jerry is a remake of the Tamil film Kolamavu Kokila (2018), but it also plays like a comic version of the 2021 series Tabbar: an ordinary family getting mixed up with some very bad people, their every move making things messier. One of the actors from Tabbar (Sahil Mehta, very droll) plays Jigar, Timmy’s boneheaded lieutenant, and a good bit of the dialogue is in Punjabi. But where Tabbar was lifelike to a fault, Sen’s film is more obviously ‘designed’, all bright colours and graffiti. Small-town quirkiness as an aesthetic has just about run its course. At the same time, any defined look is better than none at all, which is most of Hindi cinema lately.
There are enough interesting little ideas and details to suggest Sen would do well with a film that has a sturdier exoskeleton. In one scene, a high-angle shot pans in the direction of the action, but has to backtrack when the characters below literally hit a wall. Jerry’s younger sister reads An Introduction to Political Theory at night while her sibling kneads dough with her bare feet. Writer Pankaj Matta comes up with an impressively weird gaggle of criminals—pop-eyed Jigar, fish farmer Malik (Saurabh Sachdeva), Timmy in his neck brace—and neighbourhood weirdos like the excitable fellow who’s perpetually dressed for a wedding. Other ideas are promising but don’t reach fruition. A sequence with everyone miming isn’t funny enough to overcome the feeble reason for it being there at all.
Given the film’s farcical tone, the actors who pull back are the most successful. Dalal is especially effective as Timmy, a gangster of few words and fewer movements who’s sweet on Jerry. The film fails the performance, turning him, without warning, into a sexual aggressor (it isn’t the only time the film dangles a rape threat). Mita Vashisht and Deepak Dobriyal, fine actors both, make an absolute meal of their scenes, operating at a level of slapstick more suited to an Anees Bazmee film. The broadness is grating; this feels like a film that wants to be Delhi Belly (2011), but doesn’t have the wit to match its foul humour.
Kapoor is appealing as a desperate daughter, inadequate as the woman who survives police checks and plays gangsters against each other. Her tremulousness belies her staying power—there’s not enough of Jerry’s steeliness in Kapoor’s performance. You wait for her to break bad but she just keeps breaking down.
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