Jitendra Kumar, Arushi Sharma, Jaaved Jaaferi, Dhruv Thukral, Manoj Joshi
What’s The Story
In a small football-loving town of Neemuch in Madhya Pradesh, a small-time magician, Magic Meenu (played by Jitendra Kumar) who has no athletic skill must win a football trophy to marry his love interest (Arushi Sharma) but the problem is his team that hasn’t won a game in the last couple of years. Will Meenu be able to take his team to the final? Will Meenu be able to get his love interest? Will the love interest’s father cause disruption to the couple’s plans? Well, you’ll have to watch it to find out.
The unpredictability of what going to happen in the climax is what makes this story worth a watch. Director Sameer Saxena has managed to give the audience what they were not expecting at all. In a sports film you’re always rooting for the lead actor to end up victorious, but hardly does one end up coming up with a story where the lead character has much more to do than just win on the ground. There are a million other things running through his mind which could be related to his family, his girlfriend, his marriage, his kids, etc. Keeping all those things intact in his mind, he has to perform on the ground, and that’s an aspect of a sportsperson's life that ‘Love Goals’ has managed to bring to the screens.
Another great part about the writing of ‘Love Goals’ is the inclusivity. In a small town like Neemuch, the football team has female players playing alongside the men and there are no issues with that. Her husband even reveals that he has no qualms about being second fiddle at home. That’s the kind of progressive mindset Biswapati Sarkar’s writing brings forth. To add to that, a lower caste boy ends up becoming the star player of the team, and there is no fuss about his caste or creed and everyone is just happy that he is such a great player. The inclusivity of such characters onscreen makes you want to watch it happen even in real life with such ease.
Among the actors, Jaaved Jaaferi comes up with a killer performance. One look at him and no one would say that the man is almost 60 years of age. He looks fit as a fiddle. Another good thing about his character is that he stammers. Jaaved Jaaferi is known for his voice among the youth. Whether it’s ‘Takeshi’s Castle’ or ‘Lava Ka Dhaava’, Jaaferi is known to come up with quirky voices and talk non-stop. Not for once would you imagine a diametrically opposite spectrum where he stammers and finds it difficult to talk. That was a surprise that no one saw coming.
Manoj Joshi, as the senior magician, has also come up with a great performance. Not only does he play superbly with his facial expressions as the magician, but when he takes the magician’s garb off and is a regular dad, he brings forth great simplicity and relatability to even a mundane father's character.
Soumik Mukherjee’s cinematography is commendable as he brings the small town alive onscreen. Whether it’s the outdoor scene of the football ground or it’s the indoor scenes of the characters’ homes, the essence of being set in a small town comes out very nicely through Mukherjee’s lens.
Dev Rao Jadhav’s editing also needs to be lauded considering he has managed to make a 166-minute-long movie never drag even a little bit in the middle. Despite it being a sports film and also having magicians doing tricks, the editing is smooth and there are barely any jump cuts throughout.
The music and background score by Nilotpal Bora is also decent. The song ‘Shabash’ is definitely going to stay on with you after the movie’s climax. Also, the BGM manages to fill the voids in the long scenes perfectly without letting the audience feel bored.
Jitendra Kumar Is Becoming Too Repetitive
Jitendra Kumar has a very nonchalant way in which he brings forth all his characters onscreen. This character, Meenu, is also very relatable but there is no new dimension to the character. He still speaks and looks like any of his previous characters. Abhishek Tripathi in ‘Panchayat’ or Jeetu Bhaiya in ‘Kota Factory’ or Aman Tripathi in ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan’ – while the stories of all of them were vastly different, there is hardly much of a difference in Kumar’s body language and mannerisms in any of those and that continues even in ‘Love Goals’. It’s high time he moves out of his comfort zone of playing the cute and innocent boy-next-door character and starts doing something vastly different. He has become so stereotyped that every time he is on the screen you’re unconsciously waiting for him to either do or say something funny.
This confusion has also dug its nails in the writing of the lead character by Biswapati Sarkar. The character played by Kumar is confused. On one hand, he is trying to be a magician, but then he also is trying to help his uncle with the town football tournament as their substitute. He is doing magic shows but when needed to prove his love, he even suddenly becomes the best footballer in the town with the golden penalty kick. To add to all of this, he falls in love madly at the drop of a hat. The writing of his character has made a mockery of coming-of-age roles.
Arushi Sharma made an impressive debut with ‘Love Aaj Kal’ but in ‘Love Goals’ she barely has much to do. There is not a single scene which can be called her break-out scene. Whether it’s her boyfriend or her father, she is always in the shadow of the other characters. To add to that the chemistry between her and Jitendra Kumar doesn’t really come out that well. Their pairing looks too forced.
‘Love Goals’ is indeed a sweet and cute film. However, the coming-of-age is on too many different levels. That creates confusion in the audience’s perception of the lead character. Despite that the unpredictability and inclusivity in the writing of the film are brilliant. This can, at best, be a decent One-Time Watch. I am going with 3 stars.