‘Jugni’ – A subtly sensitive film (IANS Rating – **1/2)

Film: “Jugni”; Director: Shefali Bhushan; Cast: Sadhana Singh, Sugandha Garg, Siddhant Behl, Samir Sharma and Aniruta Jha; Rating: **1/2

“Jugni”, or the female firefly, has symbolic meanings in many ancient texts. But most of all, it signifies the free-flying spirit that illuminates from within.

On a scientific note, the glow of the fireflies is used as defence mechanism or a mating device. And according to Punjabi folk, it is an age-old narrative device that stands for an innocent observer to make incisive and touching observations of life.

Well, Shefali Bhushan in her maiden directorial venture has blended all science, myth and the narrative device to deliver a subtly sensitive film.

Used as a metaphor, “Jugni” is Vibhavari’s story.

Vibhavari (Sugandha Garg) also known as Vibs is a music director in Mumbai. She is struggling to get a foothold in the film industry. After numerous rejections, she travels to Hasanpur village in Punjab to unearth a fine folk singer Bibi Saroop (Sadhana Singh), whose voice holds the promise that she is looking for.

While in the village, Vibs gets attracted to the opportunist Mastana (Siddhant Behl), Bibi Saroop’s son and an equally proficient singer.

How their lives take a twist, forms the crux of the tale.

The storyline is superficial. The plot, strewn with astonishing poetry and song sequences, is formulaic and relatable. The script is flowing and sweet, but unimaginative.

It offers no dramatic moments and the surprises are more of duds. But what keeps you hooked are the chirpy dialogues and effervescent performances by the lead cast.

The characters are marginally quirky and their performances are equally competitive and natural. And Divakar Mani’s cinematography takes you to the heart of the action.

The film belongs to Sugandha Garg and Siddhant Behl. They portray Vibhavari and Mastana in all earnestness. They both are charming and light up the screen with their vibrant and contrasting personalities.

While Siddhant is effortless as the rustic village entertainer, Sugandha comes across as an artificial made up city-bred doll with a well coiffured mane.

They are aptly supported by; Sadhana Singh as Bibi Saroop, Samir Sharma as Sid, Vib’s live-in partner and Anirutha Jha as Mastana’s girlfriend Preeto. Theirs is a one- dimensional role that navigates the story forward.

Clinton Cerejo’s music is sparkling with a blend of rustic folk songs that are tuned and off-beat.

Overall, Shefali’s direction is noteworthy and the film is worth a watch.

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