Jagga Jasoos: An Endearing Experiment That Manages to Overpower Its Flaws
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Director Anurag Basu’s Jagga Jasoos leaves you holding on to a mixed bag of emotions. Its aftermath echoes the contradictory introduction lines of A Tale Of Two Cities that goes “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This film is endearing and it is also tiresome. It induces nostalgia but it also bears a feeble story. Due to its contradictory nature, what you take home when you leave the theatre depends entirely on the levels of patience you are willing to lend to the film.
Jagga (Ranbir Kapoor), a timid and curious boy who has previously never uttered a word due to his stuttering disorder, is taught to use the right side of this brain and sing his thoughts instead by his adoptive father Tooti Phooti (Saswata Chatterjee). Upon receiving a mysterious note from an intimidating stranger, Jagga’s father suddenly leaves him behind.
When he is not busy entertaining his hostel mates, Jagga takes up small-town mysteries which he solves intricately using his quick-wit. One day, a peculiar lady name Shruti Sengupta (Katrina Kaif) arrives in town bearing a hill-sized target on her back. In his efforts to rescue her, Jagga also learns of his father’s sudden disappearance. A determined Jagga and a bad-luck ridden Shruti set out on a mission to rescue Tooti Phooti while also making time to save the world.
The mystery-solving journey Jagga takes you on takes you straight back to the sleuth stories you’ve heard during your childhood. The “Jasoosi” Jagga ventures on is not high-tech, it has more to do with street-smarts. His unique perspective is what brings a layer of comfort and familiarity to the mysteries.
Director Anurag Basu deserves a round of applause for weaving a musical centered on a spy-thriller. This isn’t to say Jagga Jasoos is without faults, but recognizing its daring and endearing experimentation is a must. Basu also makes use of visual trickery in the film to give the audiences an element of surprise. This trick often involves visual concealment followed by an unexpected reveal. In one scene, Jagga and Shruti are chased by armed goons, suddenly Jagga stops to pick up a stone and the goons are seen dropping their weapons immediately. A second later, a gang of police officers are found to be surrounding the other side of the premise. This conceal-reveal formula is executed in a fascinating manner.
Be warned though, Jagga Jasoos demands your patience. If you lose interest mid-way, chances are you won’t gain it back. Running a little over three hours, the film moves on leisurely weaving many details onto its core. This kind of detailing comes across as overstuffing in places. In trying to inculcate romance, comedy, thrills, mystery and so many more elements, the story starts to look overdone towards the end. Maybe peeling away a few layers would’ve given the director a crispier by-product.
The film also never boasts of a mighty story. In fact, the story cannot even be considered solid. Instead, Jagga Jasoos uses its storytelling to induce nostalgia in its viewers. It makes you laugh unconsciously through its untouched innocence. What disrupts the flow of this film is when unrelated bits and pieces of sequences come into the picture just to orchestrate the exquisite production. A scene with the actors riding an Emu was completely unnecessary. This kind of superficiality disrupts the film’s inherent charm.
As Jagga, Ranbir is brilliant. He obviously can never be passed off for a school boy but getting past that, his subtle yet impactful nuances bring to life Basu’s characterization impeccably. Katrina Kaif renders an inconsistent performance. In certain places, she’s involved, sincere and even realistic but in other parts she seems to be absent-minded. As Tooti Phooti, Saswata Chatterjee is awe-inspiring. His character’s quirks and unique way of viewing life is refreshing to witness. In fact, some of the best scenes in the film are between Tooti Phooti and Jagga.
Ravi Varman has armed Jagga Jasoos with stellar visuals. Masterful visual-storytelling is undoubtedly the backbone of such a film and Varman has lent this his heart and soul. From astonishing colors to bedazzling frames, the visual storytelling is purely delightful. Elevating these beautiful visuals is the film’s art department. A lot of work has gone into the film’s sets and artwork in order for it to look as imaginative as it does.
Considering that this film is a musical, Pritam’s songs don’t cause disappointment but they don’t ignite spark either. Barring a few songs, the others are mediocre.
On the whole, Jagga Jasoos is a refreshing and heart-warming experiment that cannot be dismissed due to its underlying flaws. The film will not stun you with a solid story but it will entertain you and lend you an escape from your worries.