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Watching ‘Jabariya Jodi’ is like surviving a bad marriage.

You don’t want to throw in the towel just yet and you always hope that things will miraculously improve with the fractured pair.

Similarly, the viewers of this romantic comedy — starring the winsome couple Sidharth Malhotra and Parineeti Chopra — that takes a nick at the inglorious tradition of forced marriages in Bihar, hang onto the movie hoping that it will somehow improve. But there’s simply no silver lining in this romantic comedy that scores big on its unique concept.

Imagine eligible bachelors being abducted and married at gunpoint to hapless brides. This bizarre tradition is a ripple effect of dowry, forcing the bride’s family to resort to criminal deeds to avoid coughing up money.

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Malhotra plays Abhay Singh, a Bihari goon with a powerful politician father (Javed Jaffrey), who orchestrates such kidnappings. Malhotra is terribly miscast as the Bihari henchman and falters in his role, which would have benefited from having an actor with a rugged, raw appeal. The handsome actor is too polished to be believable as a criminal with a conscience. He’s also too vanilla in scenes when he has to look menacing and morbid. Even when he has his boot planted on a potential groom’s face that is plastered on a railway track, he doesn’t evoke fear or disgust.

Chopra, as the spunky Babli Yadav, is a better fit. This 20-something lass with a propensity to elope injects some verve and life into a film that kept careening out of control.

Her introductory scene where she beats her spineless boyfriend (an unknown, obscure actor) for ghosting her is problematic, but Chopra makes it look like physical comedy. Her luck with her childhood crush Abhay, whom she encounters at a wedding as an adult, isn’t particularly different. He’s a man with daddy issues and is deeply commitment phobic. Their troubled romance takes up precious screen time and their relationship is simply exhausting.

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Aparshakti Khurrana, who plays Bubbly’s bestie Santo, puts it aptly in the melodramatic climax: “In this love story, you [Babli Yadav] are on an ego trip, he [Abhay] is confused and I am the only one who is in love here.”

His frustrated sentiment could be applied to this messy film as well.

A love story works if the chemistry between the two lead players peaks. But there’s no such luck here. Though Malhotra and Chopra make a fetching pair, the spark isn’t palpable and that’s disappointing because ‘Jabariya Jodi’ tries very hard to be a grand love story. Though certain jokes between friends and the lead players land beautifully, it isn’t enough to save this floundering romance. Actor Sanjay Mishra, as Bubbly’s dad, is a hoot. But he isn’t the one on call to do the heavy lifting.

While the context of groom kidnapping is a rich idea, it isn’t milked well by director Prashant Singh either. Take the plunge if you are a fan of Chopra and put a ring on it only if you are a glutton for half-baked ideas that don’t materialise fully.

Film: ‘Jabariya Jodi’

Director: Prashant Singh

Cast: Parineeti Chopra, Sidharth Malhotra, Javed Jaffrey, Aparshakti Khurrana and Sanjay Mishra

Stars: 2 out of 5