There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact
– Sherlock Holmes
The last #Detective film that one saw was Dibakar Banerjee’s #DetectiveByomkeshBakshy! where the
otherwise brilliant filmmaker was constrained by having to stick to a set template and as a result was a colossal letdown. Which is a shame really because there are hardly any notable Hindi films in this genre. Unlike in the west where you have the #SherlockHolmes and the #AgathaChristies who have enthralled us for long. The makers of #JaggaJasoos mentioned in a recent interview that the film was really a #Musical with as many as 29 songs in all. That set the alarm bells ringing. And it is with trepidation that one entered the theatres screening Anurag Basu’s latest offering.
Jagga Jasoos is the story of an orphan (#RanbirKapoor) with a stammering problem who comes across a stranger quite by chance. The stranger who is only known as Tooti-Footi to the kid grows close so much so that they become like father and son. But one day this man goes away just as suddenly as he had appeared. Every year on Jagga’s birthday he sends a videotape to the kid until one day the tape does not come. From there begins Jagga’s incredible journey to find this stranger.
SCRIPT, SCREENPLAY & DIALOGUES
Jagga Jasoos is co produced by #Disney and is the maiden venture of director-actor duo Anurag Basu-Ranbir Kapoor’s production house called #PictureShuru. And sure enough the film starts with that very memorable credit rolls song from #Barfi. Before you know it you have all characters singing out their dialogues and dancing (which for some strange reason reminded me of Disney’s classic #MaryPoppins) All of this is a little overwhelming and it takes about five minutes or so to get a grip on things. After which the next hour is an exhilarating ride the kind of which one has not experienced in years.Using the real life incident of the 1995 #Purulia arms drop case as a thread around which the whole screenplay is woven, Anurag Basu’s writing is brilliant. For most parts.
Human relationships are Anurag Basu’s forte and even in Jagga Jasoos the best parts are the emotional scenes. Like this whole father & son track. Scenes where characters break into song are especially well written (credit to the very talented #AmitabhBhattacharya) The clock tower mystery song, then the scene where Ranbir barges into Katrina’s house, the post interval Nimboo-mirchi number (which is a sarcastic take on the divisive times we live in) and the unexpectedly delightful singing at Katrina’s dead boyfriend’s birthday party are all inspired writing. Then there are the little touches – like the father curling his toe when lying, #Buddha’s theory of #TheRedCircle and Katrina’s clumsiness which results in many laugh-out-loud moments.
What does not work is the adventure bit. The action scenes seem half heartedly written & executed and do not really make your hair stand on end. The role of Jagga’s arch nemesis who is supposed to be this two headed freak does not intrigue the way it should have (even after the last scene where it is revealed that #NawazuddinSiddiqui is this villain) The whole thread of the international arms race is so-so and the only reason you play along is to know what happened to Jagga’s father. Then there is a lot that defies logic. Like Ranbir & Katrina breaking into a song while they are being hounded by authorities. Then there is this huge build up made about a mixed up video tape that is conveniently forgotten in the end.
This is a bit of a mixed bag. While the DOP #RaviVarman makes sure that each and every scene be it set in the North East or #Morocco is straight out of a post card the action sequences, the post production work and the CGI are all strictly average. The music by Pritam is very good but Barfi will still remain the best from the Anurag Basu-Pritam duo (who also gave us Life in a Metro & #Gangster) The editing by Akiv Ali is excellent in the first half of the film which has a running length of 160 odd minutes.
The actor who plays the local cop is quite good and the scene where he gets a phone call in the station is quite funny. #SaurabhShukla is one of the finest actors we have and was truly memorable in his last film Barfi. Here his role is sketchy and half baked. Same goes for #KatrinaKaif who is supposed to be this investigative journalist but is mostly playing sidekick to Ranbir’s Jagga. All she does is fall and hurt herself at the drop of a hat. Though it has been used well as a plot device especially while reuniting Jagga with his father.
Though Barfi is a tough act to follow Ranbir Kapoor is quite superb in the title role of Jagga Jasoos. Whether he is sauntering through an empty boy’s hostel on his unique design bike or solving a seemingly tricky case Ranbir is the soul of this film. Watch him break down in a stammering fit in front of the friendly, neighbourhood policeman and you know this man can really, really act. The scene stealer of this enterprise is Bengali actor #SaswataChatterjee who gained immense popularity back home playing Topshe the loveable side kick of the legendary Bengali detective #Feluda (created by #SatyajitRay) Last seen in Hindi films playing a brilliant cameo in Sujoy Ghosh’s #Kahaani he is quite extraordinary in every scene that he appears in. Such is his impact that you as an audience hope fervently that he has not died.
What to make next ? This is the question that has vexed some of the best directors of Bollywood. Ramesh Sippy made #Sholay when he was 27 and could not make anything half as good afterwards. #AdityaChopra made his debut with the smash hit #DDLJ but has made nothing of significance since. Similar thoughts must have run through director Anurag Basu’s mind after making a sublime Barfi. That was five years ago. Jagga Jasoos is a brave film that attempts to use the whole theatre-like musical format to tell a story and almost succeeds. It is not a perfect film but that is perhaps because Basu has too much on his plate. Yet if Jagga Jasoos works and (it does for most part) all credit must go to him. For sticking his neck out and taking such a huge risk. And to think that we had almost lost this man to cancer in the year 2004. After which is when he has made all his best films. More power to you, dada.
It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but Jagga Jasoos with it’s unique musical style of narration makes for an invigorating watch. It has great performances, good music and is very entertaining for most parts. It falters at places in the latter half but only just. May be it will not appeal to the masses but the gentry, one suspects will love it. Do yourself a favour this weekend. Go watch Jagga Jasoos.