I confess I didn’t follow the complex plot of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. I suspect neither did Nolan’s cast and crew. I don’t know if the cast and crew of JL50 followed the plot. I didn’t. This makes director Avinash Vyas the desi Nolan. Does that make any sense to you? No? Then try this: a plane disappears in 1984 and shows up 35 years later with only three survivors, one of them being Pankaj Kapur. I am glad he survived the plane crash. I am not sure he will be able to survive the crash of this half-baked, fully-pakao series.
There are so many gaping loopholes in JL50 that after the first episode I stopped counting. All I could gather with some certainty is that along with air travel this is a series about time travel, a kind of two-in-one pleasure trip for passengers that turns into a nightmare for all concerned.
Abhay Deol is a stone-faced CBI officer investigating the crash and the plane’s miraculous resurrection. His stoic expression doesn’t give anything away. I don’t blame him. If I were put in such a seriously sticky situation I’d be just as miserly with my feelings. In the final Episode 4, Abhay has a meltdown scene where he encounters himself as a baby in the cradle in Kolkata (request: please don’t ask about how this happens. After Tenet and now this, my explanatory faculties have gone numb). Here too we don’t see any emotions being wasted by Mr Deol, as he has his face hidden under his hands, a la Manoj Kumar.
In a large chunk of Episode 3, Abhay sat listening to Pankaj Kapur, the kind of scientific mumbo-jumbo that Kenneth Branagh in Tenet is heard mouthing. Branagh has finally met his match. In the last episode we move to 1984 with Kaaton se kheench key yeh aanchal (Guide, 1964) playing in a car to create the aura of periodicity and a poster of Badle Ki Aag which came in 1982, on the wall. Director Raj Kumar Kohli would be happy to know that his flop film was showing in Kolkata for two years. And veteran actor Sarika would be delighted to know that actor Ritika Anand who plays a zonked-out airhostess is her spitting image. As for you, dear viewer, you would be happy to know the series is blessedly brief, and you can walk away any time.