Akarsh and Adhaar Khurana
Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Sumeet Vyas, Arjun Mathur, Rukshar Dhillon, Smil Lukram, Gopal Datt Tiwari, Keith Sequeira, Priyanka Tomar, Himika Bose, Ahsaas Channa, Kavya Trehan, Danish Sood, Taaruk Raina and Zarin Shihab
What’s It About
Lucky (played by Taaruk Raina) is a good-looking college heartthrob. He uses his charm to entice intelligent girls into the scam of impersonation in exams. He even manages to get the lady he loves, Ruhi (played Rukshar Dhillon), to the evil side of giving varied college admission examinations posing as someone else, and in return getting some money for an abroad college sponsorship. Bhati (played by Sumeet Vyas) is a college student who should have passed out and left campus a long time ago. However, he is still running for the position of University Students President. Ayesha (played by Ahsaas Channa) is a rising student journalist who is constantly on the lookout for a compelling story that would help her land a dream internship with a major news organisation. Nadeem (played by Gopal Datt) runs his fraud operation of the exam scam by using statements from successful individuals and helping out any student who is willing to pay for these impersonations in the exam halls. Meanwhile, Tarush (played by Arjun Mathur) is a senior journalist, from the same news organisation which Ayesha wishes to intern at, who is on a mission to uncover the truth about the exam scam that has taken over the university. Professor Bejoy (played Parambrata Chatterjee) is on his own mission and is trying to uncover the truth of the exam scam all by his own because he suspects that there are some of his own students who are involved in this fraud exam scam. Will Lucky be able to convince Ruhi? Will Ruhi get caught in the exams? Will Bhati win the student elections? Will Ayesha get her dream internship? Will Tarush uncover the veil on the exam scam? Well, for all these answers you’ll have to watch the show.
Firstly, every character has been very beautifully written. They all have been given a context, a background, and why they are doing what they’re doing. Akarsh Khurana and Adhaar Khurana’s writing is good. But the screenplay suffers from a problem of too much too soon.
Another good part about the writing is that all the characters are shown as grey characters. None of them is the pure ‘doodh ka dhula’ character, which is so predominant in most college dramas. Every character has its own shortcomings and every character has its own flaws – quite like real-life people.
The standout performances are by Arjun Mathur and Prarambrata Chatterjee. They’ve been aptly cast, and they’ve played similar journalist and professor characters before and therefore as an audience you instantly connect to them. Gopal Dutt is fantastic as the conniving mastermind behind the scam, who keeps giving the viewer ample opportunities to laugh with his one-line comic remarks. All the other actors have decently played their characters well, but no one stands out too much.
The music by the Indian Ocean is as usual fantastic. The haunting vocals of Rahul Ram at the end of each episode is an eerie forewarning of what’s to come next.
Lastly, the naming of the show, ‘Jugaadistan’ is damn good. It’s catchy, and you don’t have to remember it to tell it to anyone. It’s smooth sailing and helps get the point across to the viewer even before he has seen the trailer or say the first episode.
Sumeet Vyas is a slight letdown. He doesn’t have enough screen time to justify his stature. The fun he brings on usually in his shows is slightly amiss. There are sparks of it in bits and pieces here and there, but you will be mostly be missing his candid humour in most parts. A lengthier screen time would have ensured that didn’t happen to Vyas.
As mentioned earlier, the screenplay suffers from a problem of too much too soon, which means that there are numerous plot points running parallel to each other. While for a web series it is a good thing, here, for an average viewer, it comes across as too much happening all-together that feels like a hotchpotch mess.
The concept of an exam scam isn’t something new in cinema. Even recently ‘The Whistleblower’ showed a similar concept, but what was good about it is that it stuck to the same thing. ‘Jugaadistan’ dabbles with student politics, exam scams, journalistic ethics, and whatnot. Thereby a mess!
To add to this mess is the timeline of the story. There are numerous occasions where you feel 'didn’t it already happen before'. A bit more clarity of the timeline of where each character is at any given time, wouldn’t have had hurt the viewers.
Despite its little shortcomings, ‘Jugaadistan’ is decently engaging. It does handle too much on its plate, but it gives a proper closure to almost all of those plot points, which usually doesn’t happen in a lot of today’s web shows. It’s indeed a worthy one-time watch. I am going with 3.5 stars.