Cinephile Stock: Jagga Jasoos

Ranbir Kapoor
in & as


Written and Directed by Anurag Basu
Produced by Siddharth Roy Kapur, Anurag Basu Ranbir Kapoor
Starring Katrina Kaif, Saurabh Shukla & Saswata Chatterjee
Denzil Smith, Sayani Gupta & Rajatava Datta
Photographed by S. Ravi Varman, ISC
Edited by Akiv Ali
Music by Pritam

I have to admit that I really didn’t like Barfi a lot. It had good performances but instead of the ‘homage’ it claimed to be to many films before it, it seemed lifted in far too many places.

Jagga Jasoos is better in terms of originality, though it does have certain co-incidental sequences. But in almost all other aspects, it fails stupendously in comparison to Anurag Basu’s previous film.

The story revolves around Jagga and his search for his missing foster father. It goes from Bengal to Manipur to Africa, creating a major muddle. The backdrop of the real-life Purulia Arms Drop of 1995 and militants adds a little bit of intrigue, which Basu then proceeds to screw up royally.

While Bombay Velvet was overwritten, Jagga Jasoos is the opposite. Characters are picked up, written a little and abandoned, plot points are half-baked. There is no moment where the story seems to really take off. Despite the intended emotional impact, you couldn’t really care whether Jagga and his dad meet up.

The novelty of the cast singing the dialogues instead of saying them wears off after a while and becomes annoying.

The film has terrible visual effects, wherein one can actually make out the CG background and objects. Prasad Sutar and his team from NY VFXwala aren’t to blame, the hurried post-production is. When you spend close to forty months on making a movie and deliver a shoddy finished product, you don’t call for much appreciation.

Katrina Kaif’s casting is questionable since she is hardly able to transform a written character to a live-action creation. She does pull off the Calamity Jane bits with ease but is off-key in the more dramatic scenes.

The major portion of the blame for this carelessly made film lies on the doorstep of director Anurag Basu, who takes his mess of a script and messes it up even more. The film has no sense of coherence or continuity. Physics, logic and common sense are a few prominent victims of Basu’s overactive imagination. Rohit Shetty may have MDMA-fuelled action, but when you have a sub-plot involving arms dealers, rockets that change course 180 degrees do not work. The length of the film is another issue: it is at least half-an-hour too long. A tighter film would’ve made for fewer mistakes.

Pritam’s music is not all that great. It gets boring and repetitive after some time and has very few memorable tunes. He should’ve just taken something (second nature to him) from the films Jagga Jasoos seems to pay homage to: the likes of Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and The Adventures of Tintin.

Noted action director Allan Amin provides some cool stunts and chases, almost making those scenes feel out of place, in a good way, in this film.

Akiv Ali’s editing was on point, with a special focus on the way scenes shot in different places merge into the same frame. Had Ali had more freedom, the film wouldn’t have been so clunky.

Ravi Varman’s lensing is reminiscent of his work from Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. He captures the vast landscape of the film very well. Despite the shabby visual effects, the frames look like paintings. Lit intelligently and coloured well by Ken Metzker, the visuals are the biggest plus in the film.

Actors of the calibre of Sayani Gupta, Denzil Smith and Rajatava Datta are wasted in their brief roles, though they do try their utmost, especially Mr. Datta. They were either given underwritten characters or their roles were snipped off in the edit (my allowance money is on the latter).

Saswata Chatterjee as Jagga’s foster father is the polar opposite of Bob Biswas from Kahaani. Warm, friendly and clumsy, Mr. Chatterjee has some of the more remarkable scenes in the film: those with the young boy playing Junior Jagga. He is the emotional lynchpin of the film and plays his part to perfection.

Saurabh Shukla is excellent. He has the best lines in the film and his recitation scene with Ranbir Kapoor is the funniest in the film. Mr. Shukla doesn’t really have the shades of villainy the character should’ve had but he is enjoyable nonetheless.

Ranbir Kapoor is quite good. There is a sincerity, an innocence and a determination to overcome the stutter in his performance as the titular character. He faces up to the challenge of playing detective admirably. However, he is far too old to pull off a school boy character which, even with some lein-dein, can’t possibly be older than twenty-two. He makes up with some wonderful stuttering and sing-talking, though Tushar Joshi has dubbed for roughly thirty percent of the scenes of the latter nature (not songs, scenes!).

Anurag Basu’s Jagga Jasoos failed to live up to my expectations. It is a haphazard film whose director did not seem to have a confirmed course. Despite the cliffhanging climax, I’d rather there wasn’t a sequel.

Verdict: C (Clumsy and Cluttered)

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Up next on CINEPHILE STOCK: Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk on July 21.

Varun Oak-Bhakay



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