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JL 50 on SonyLIV Review- A genuine time travel attempt

Abhay Deol starrer JL50 on SonyLIV is an experiment done right

Rating – 3.5/5

Cast: Abhay Deol, Pankaj Kapoor, Piyush Mishra

A remote village in West Bengal witnesses a plane crash on a very sporadic day. Further investigation on the plane crash reveals that it’s JL50, a plane that took off from Calcutta in 1984 and went missing. And now after 35 years, the plane has reappeared from nowhere. There are just 2 survivors of the crash, the pilot Bhiu Ghosh and Professor BC Mishra. Surprisingly they haven’t aged a bit. It is from this point that the mystery takes off, changing the entire mood of the series.

Abhay Deol plays Shantanu, a CBI officer in charge of the investigation of the mystery plane crash. I can’t help but notice that he has made an amazing comeback with this 4-episode mini web series. In his journey to find the truth behind JL50, many secrets unfold.

We are hinted at time travel in the first episode itself. But to experiment with such a bold and in-depth topic, a proper foundation to the idea is needed along with a pinch of audacity. And the makers have both. JL50 is convincing as a time-travel movie and uses facts and theories that make sense to the common man. That’s where JL50 makes a win. The point on why the makers went for a four-part mini-series instead of a two-hour feature film is still unclear to me. 

It was interesting how JL50 develops parallel subplots surrounding time travel, like the one with Shantanu’s lineage. It just adds to the already intense and mysterious aura.

Impeccable performances in JL 50 (streaming on SonyLIV)

Abhay Deol’s Shantanu seems like a tough guy, with some inner conflict we are not made aware of. Abhay Deol gave his best shot though there aren’t any career-defining acting moments for him in the film. On a personal note, Pankaj Kapoor as Professor Das is brilliant. Him, trying to pull off a Bengali accent seemed very effortless and flawless. Piyush Mishra was indeed scary but some moments felt unconvincing and over-hyped, especially his version ‘Eureka’ (you’ll know if you have seen the series).


Not Entirely Perfect Though

As an experiment, JL50 deserves an excellent score but if you break it down as a typical web series, the screenplay was a bit rushed.

Some moments were not in compliance with the characters. Shanthanu being convinced to travel back in time is one of them. Convincing a person who was not satisfied with the time travel theory and adamantly argued that all this is just a setup staged to fool everyone seems like a challenge. But there he is convinced without any push.

Maybe because it was more focused on the storytelling (since the topic is quite subtle) the writers didn’t flesh out all the main characters well.

The trio – Shantanu, Bhiu, and Professor Das coming to 1984 didn’t come across as a miraculous happening. It failed to generate amusement among the audience.

The best part throughout the series is Pankaj Kapoor’s monologue, where in just two minutes he cracks open the superstition and blind faith in religion that pulls our country from fully developing. It is these blind myths and faiths that account for a major fraction of India’s stumbling blocks. ‘Why can’t we rise above that?’, Professor Das asks Shantanu, a question probably we should ask ourselves.


Watch JL50 on Sony LIV

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