A laudable exploration of time travel concept
Time travel has a special place in Hollywood starting from 1921 with the movie A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court which was an adaptation of Mark Twain’s classic which was again remade in 1949. This was followed by many films like another classic from H.G Wells The Time Machine in 1960 (remade twice in 1978 and 2002) and The Final Countdown in 1980 which is based on a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier hit by a storm and the all-time favorite Back to the Future in 1985 that ran into 3 parts. Among time travel movies in India, Aditya 369 (1991) by Singeetam Srinivasa Rao, Shree (2013) by Rajesh Bachchani, Indru Netru Naalai (2015) by R Ravikumar, and 24 (2016) by Vikram Kumar are noteworthy contributions.
SonyLIV also joins the time travel club with this original mini web series JL50 by diving into the fantasy world of sci-fi which is always an evergreen genre for filmmakers all over the world.
CBI gets an SOS about the highjack of a flight with a demand to release a militant. At the same time, a flight that went missing 35 years ago crashes in Arunachal Pradesh. Shantanu (Abhay Deol) and Gourango (Rajesh Sharma) of CBI start investigating into these two incidents and stumble upon startling secrets with the help of Professor Das (Pankaj Kapur) that revolves around time travel which is not only bizarre but shocking at the same time.
Performances of Artistes
It is heartening to see Pankaj Kapur in an important attention-grabbing role and its always endearing to watch him perform as he never disappoints in any kind of role. Here too, he exhibits his stamp of skillful acting by putting up a remarkable performance.
Abhay shines in another character which is far away from glamour and glitter in an unconventional role of CBI officer who has to face the dark secret behind time travel and the expressions he displayed when he travels back to 1984 are extraordinary.
Ritika Anand who is also one of the producers of this web series as Bihu Ghosh, the copilot of the flight that crashed, and Piyush Mishra as Professor Mitra has chipped in with praiseworthy performances.
Direction & Technical Aspects
The effort to build a novel show based on time travel by the writer and director Shailendar Vyas is laudable. The theme of JL50 unveils the creative ability of our writers once again which is a welcome change and we can expect more experiments in this line which are different from offbeat routine stories. Shailender deserves full credit for creating a precedent in the sci-fi genre by JL50.
While the theme and story are excellent, the logic behind JL50 goes for a toss and the story of Ashoka and his 9 books theory is far from convincing. Similarly, the Azad Bangla movement in 2019 is out of place and sounds quite strange. Also, the time travel undertaken by Shantanu, Das, and Bihu which takes them 35 years back could have been handled in a better way instead of making it as simple as it looked. These loose ends should have been tightened up to present the narrative in a more gripping and exciting manner.
The songs composed by singer, lyricist, and music director Aseem Trivedi are top class. Now I am here breathing, Now I am here screaming is an amazing number proving the remarkable talent possessed by this young MTV Unplugged star.
The background score contributed by Team Foster Black and Prajatantra has effectively reflected the mood of 1984 with vintage music and succeeded in adding the extra buzz to the narrative.
The Director of Photography Bradley Stuckel’s effort can be seen in every frame and his portrayal of some scenes dating back to 1984 depicting the changeover is eye-catching and he along with the Art Director Tanmoy Chaterjee has created a greater impact on the whole plot.
Verdict & Rating
Except for few flaws, JL50 is a commendable effort with a ground breaking concept and its short time spanning 4 episodes makes it more interesting to watch and one can give it a try to get the feel of time travel and to explore the mystery behind the flight that goes missing for 35 long years.