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Entertainment Review: Hustlers: Jugaad Ka Khel

Sanjay Sharma has a problem—his over-achieving brother. Since childhood, his brother, Manoj (Maharshi Dave) has been held up by his parents as a beacon of hard work and ambition. He aced his engineering course and got a well-paid job with a multinational. How does Sanjay (Vishal Vashishtha) prove to his parents that he is worthy of their love and attention too? The show Hustlers: Jugaad Ka Khel, is a light-hearted look at family, friendship, campus life and the spirit of entrepreneurship, directed by Harsh Dedhia, written by Karan Narvekar and Rahul Patel.

With great difficulty, Sanjay gets into engineering college, and has the brainy Gujarati guy, also named Manoj (Meherzan Mazda ) as his roommate. The first thing Manoj’s father does when he comes to drop his son to the college hostel and remove the ceiling fan, to prevent a possible suicide under pressure! Manoj has figured out that there is no need to actually understand what is being taught, all he has to do is mug up and get a good percentage in exams, while Sanjay wants to be able to apply the knowledge acquired to solve real-life problems.

As Sanjay says, his mind works only when he is in hot water—he does not lack intelligence, it’s just that he does not fit into a box. Barely into first year, he decides he wants to launch his own start-up, because he heard Mihir (Samir Kochhar), a “zero to hero” tech tycoon say that real success means not bagging a job, but starting something independently and hiring the elite institute graduates.

With the help of  Baba (Aman Uppal), the “campus legend” who knows everybody and is willing to guide the impatient Sanjay, he manages to impress Mihir with his earnestness and goes through the problems and pleasures of being an entrepreneur. What he wants most of all is to make a name for himself, so that he can finally leave his brother behind, even if that requires unconventional methods.

The show (on AmazonMiniTV), set in 2010, at the beginning of the start-up boom claims to have been inspired by real-life entrepreneurial heroes. Web technology enabled those with great ideas to enter the field of business and make big money. Particularly, post-COVID, there was a rise in “problem-solving” ideas that Baba calls the worthwhile ones, and the rise of the new nerd millionaires rubbing shoulders with the ones privileged by birth.

There have been other shows about college life and slogging for a career (like Aspirants and Pitchers) in the emerging sky-is-the-limit world of successful enterprises and unicorns. Hustlers is watchable because it is funny, has good, well-cast actors and a glimpse into the ecosystem that now turns the wheels of everyday life.

Hustlers: Jugaad Ka Khel

Cast: Vishal Vashishtha, Samir Kochhar, Anjali Modi and others
On Amazon MiniTV

Deepa Gahlot
Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best-known entertainment journalists. A National Award-winning fim critic and author of several books on film and theatre. She tweets at @deepagahlot

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