A complex yet flimsy take on evolving friendships and life

 Jee Karda does away with surprises and starts off with a fortune teller’s prophecies.
Poster of Prime Video's upcoming series 'Jee Karda', set to premiere on June 15. (Photo | PTI)
Poster of Prime Video's upcoming series 'Jee Karda', set to premiere on June 15. (Photo | PTI)

We love our buddy comedies, don’t we? It has a fascinating mix of relatability and the allure of evolving relationships even while battling adulting. Right from films like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, and Veere Di Wedding to shows like Friends, Big Bang Theory and Four More Shots Please, onscreen representation of friendship has become aspirational, albeit with some gloss. An interesting addition to this list is Jee Karda which follows the individual lives of seven childhood friends, whose close-knit bracket remains intact as they experience adulthood. But where Jee Karda delightfully differs from the aforementioned titles is how it interweaves childhood memories, to talk about their thriving yet vulnerable lives in the present day.

Jee Karda does away with surprises and starts off with a fortune teller’s prophecies. The rest of the series unpacks their fates in real-time. There is plenty of relationship drama and intrapersonal conflicts, but somewhere down the line, Jee Karda forgets to focus on friendship. There is an outburst at one point, as personal equations change and unresolved conflicts emerge to the fore. None of these conflicts, however, drive a major wedge between the friends. 

At one point, Lavanya (Tamannaah Bhatia), who is engaged to Rishabh (Suhail Nayyar), while feeling claustrophobic about the idea of marriage, says, “Grand gestures that you do only look good from the outside, but it’s the small things that really matter to me.” To this, what is unsurprising is the guy asking if she is PMSing. We see an elaborate exploration of modern-day complexities through them but this is limited to romantic explorations, and nothing else. Of course, pockets of affection come out from the group, but with the foundation of the friendship settled in a void, we don’t really get to see all of them together after their childhood. 

Jee Karda scores high on representation. From queerness to conflicts surrounding personal freedom, familial issues, and social stigmas, the key takeaway of the series is the satisfaction of seeing these identities and conflicts acknowledged. But that’s about it, as they never quite fruitate into something worthy. There is an elaborate episode on the long-term impact of childhood abuse vis-a-vis the revelation of one’s sexual orientation through Melroy (Sayan Banerjee). But it is swiftly undone by a problematic depiction of abuse happening within minutes. The romantic background score only makes things worse. The layers also deepen when Melroy’s complaint against abuse is disguised as roadside robbery, and the police confess to thrashing an innocent. With a privileged complainant in place, this circumstance becomes all the more questionable and ignorant. 

Another example of the show’s half-baked stance on representation involves Lavanya’s outgoing mother Antara (Simone Singh). She dances her heart out at her daughter’s wedding, much to the disapproval of Rishabh’s parents. But the same nonchalance is lacking when Antara does not want to “outsource” her daughter’s kanyadaan. The question is not who does the kanyadaan, but why, given the progressive society that the characters are placed in?

Jee Karda tries to understand its limits and viable options of what it can achieve through its themes. What makes it a worthy watch is how it comes up with a distinct path of struggle for its seven characters, while not bogging them down by excesses. It excels in understanding the privileged world it is set in and makes humble strides in showing the characters outside of it. But on the other hand, the arcs never fully recover from when they began, which required a deeper exploration of the show’s interpersonal dynamics at large.

JEE KARDA

Cast: Tamannaah Bhatia, Aashim Gulati, Suhail Nayyar, Anya Singh, Hussain Dalal, Sayan Bannerjee, Samvedna Suwalka
Director: Arunima Sharma

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