Jugjugg Jeeyo director Raj Mehta defends how divorce, loveless marriages have been dealt with: ‘I won’t change a thing’

Director Raj Mehta’s second outing, JugJugg Jeeyo, starring Anil Kapoor, Neetu Kapoor, Varun Dhawan and Kiara Advani, is a family drama that deals with the mature subject of a loveless marriage and how divorce still remains a taboo when it comes to the social structure in India.

JuggJugg Jeeyo stars Neetu Kapoor and Anil Kapoor as Geeta and Bheem, parents to Varun Dhawan’s Kukoo, who is married to Kiara Advani’s Nainaa. Both couples are seemingly stuck in unhappy marriages and everyone except Geeta is considering divorce. While the subject itself is mature, the film has been criticised for diluting it with humour. In this conversation with indianexpress.com, filmmaker Raj Mehta dissects his film and addresses some of the obvious issues in the film, as well as certain aspects that he added to the film’s story to achieve a strong female gaze.

Lacing every difficult situation in the film with humour, did you think it dilutes the seriousness of your theme, or you had a reason to do it?

It is a tough job and the challenge lies in how we wrote it, because when you are trying to balance humour and emotions while trying to tell a story that involves both. Because life is like that, we laugh sometimes, we cry sometimes, but to put it together in a narrative within two hours is never an easy task. I am happy, people are saying that we have managed to strike that balance. It was a challenge while writing, shooting, editing and putting it together. It may seem like a jerk when you’re watching an emotional scene, especially like the one where Neetu and Kiara are sitting by the lake and talking, and then cut to Bheem (Anil Kapoor) going to Meera’s house and getting kicked out. I am happy that we were able to manage the balance but it wasn’t easy.

JugJugg Jeeyo is a story about couples of different generations stuck in troubled marriages. This is not the first time Dharma Productions is diving into the topic, Karan Johar helmed Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (KANK), which was way more mature in its treatment of the subject…

This is the story we wanted to tell always. KANK was a very mature film, and I love that film. However, that’s the route that Karan (Johar) chose to take, that’s how he wanted to portray it. I always wanted to tell this story in a slightly lighter way and say stuff laced with humour. This is a subject that can become heavy so I wanted to treat it with humour. I honestly wouldn’t change a thing.

 

How do you justify the stereotypical wife jokes that Anil Kapoor and Varun Dhawan’s characters crack in the film?

It was just a father and son talking over a few drinks. I knew there were going to be people who might not (like it) but it is just the narrative, and how it works in there. Honestly, there are people who have this kind of conversation among themselves about their wives. So, no, I don’t think it was wrong because it was about those two characters and what they were going through in their life. The second part of the film has a strong female gaze and perspective, which was also deliberate. So, this was like a set-up which would lead towards that. Hopefully, when people see it, people who are married and are in different stages in their marriage and life, understand the women’s perspective because some men don’t, in fact, a majority of men don’t. In terms of structuring the screenplay, that is what we were leading up to, the female gaze to come in and for the audience to understand the other aspect.

 

The film was equally relatable to women of different ages…

When we were writing the story, we were not trying to check all the boxes for relatability, but it is a story that flows. We just wanted to make sure that we get a strong female perspective into the film, and it does come in. We just wanted to tell the story, and the female gaze came in organically.

There are a few things that happen in families whether you like them or not, like pujas to have a kid, or how parents tell the kids that they are gifts from God, and that’s how they were born. Such things keep happening as we don’t live in an ideal world, and that’s what we wanted to show in our own subtle way, we were not trying to give a message. I wanted to package it as an entertaining film.

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