jagga jasoos review

Ranbir Kapoor and Kaitrina Kaif in a still from Jagga Jasoos,” which hit theaters July 14. (photo provided)

MUMBAI —The vision is phenomenal: The vision is phenomenal: a Hindi movie for audiences of all ages featuring a top Indian star playing a Tintin-esque character with a flair for being in the right place (or wrong, depending on the perspective) at the right time. The treatment gets raised several bars by making this adventure drama, full of both comic touches and the terrorism element, a full-on musical. 

In fact, the climax, which is the only aspect that should have been curtailed by at least 20 minutes, loses out in appeal chiefly because it is not treated at a comparable musical level to the rest of the film!

We love the musical vision of Basu: the ingenious way he used songs in films like “Saaya,” “Gangster,” “Life In A…Metro,” and “Barfi!” (specially the last two) shows a filmmaker with not mere musical sense but also someone for whom songs are not narrative deterrents, but in fact inspirations.

Never mind if the regular kind of songs (though fabulously filmed in the movie despite their average caliber) are average. Because the songs that go with the script really escalate the creativity of Pritam to an altogether new high. The party song and the initial song about the murder mystery are especially distinguished.

Possessing a heavy stammer, Jagga (Ranbir Kapoor) is an orphan raised by a mysterious but kind man Badal Bagchi (Saswata Chaterjee), and it is he who teaches Jagga that he should sing whenever he wants to communicate, how and why. However, soon Badal has to leave Jagga in the care of a school and go off for a very long time.

Jagga grows up to be a smart and helpful young man who gets into the habit of finding answers to questions in a deeper, investigative sense. Slowly, his flair as a  detective comes to the fore. A chance visit by a journalist, Shruti Sengupta (Katrina Kaif) to his town, which also ties up with his encounter with a mysterious oriental, takes his skills a shade higher.

Things proceed from one point to another until Jagga gets the news that his foster father has died in a country named Mombaca, through a visit by the latter’s “boss” Kishan (Saurabh Shukla). But by a coincidence, Jagga now knows that his father is still alive there. He persuades Shruti to accompany him abroad for the most improbable yet most amusing of reasons. It soon turns out that his father’s boss is not a straight guy but a part of a global racket.

The story is narrated in flashback, with Shruti having released many comic books on Jagga’s adventures. This technique as well as the open end both suggest a franchise.

And here are our suggestions for sequels: keep them a shade racier in the second half, make the films fast and above all, keep the comic book flavor alive. Because just about the only issue that anyone can have with the film is a slightly clichéd second half that drags a bit, as mentioned earlier, despite the magical touches.

What we primarily need to admire and marvel, however, is the superb, mammoth comic book treatment of a lavishly made film. Basu shows that he is an artiste at par with the greatest visionary filmmakers Hindi cinema has seen. The cinematography (S. Ravi Varman) with or without VFX is sheer poetry in the way it blends hill-stations, desert-like locations, the foreign terrain and the comic-book-esque sudden appearances of animals like giraffes and more.

The art direction (Rajat Poddar, Parijat Poddar) is superb, and the editing (Aliv Ali) skilled. This is Shiamak Davar’s most complex film work as choreographer, and full marks to him. Full marks also to the director and his script for the high-grade performances besides the other plus points. One actor whose name we did not catch or locate anywhere on the ‘Net’ was the fantastic boy, who played Jagga’s childhood — this boy would walk away with most awards for child artistes this year — he is that phenomenal.

Saurabh Shukla is his usual self. As the small-town cop, Rajatava Dutta is a delight. Saswata Chatterjee, as the foster-father, is fantastic. His use of his eyes to denote various positive emotions is truly representative of a gifted artiste.

Katrina Kaif is a revelation for her detractors with her extraordinary turn as Shruti. Her expressions and the small nuances in the way she speaks her lines shows her growth. The towering personality remains Ranbir Kapoor, however. In one of the most unique characters written for a hero ever, Kapoor is so good that it would be futile to try and use normal English adjectives. Whether stammering, singing, dancing, puzzled, happy, sad or romantic, Kapoor is — to just use another term in a past classic musical — supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Don’t miss this movie for its complete freshness and innocence, its determined inventiveness and the delightful universe it creates that makes you wish life could have been so idyllic, cut so simply and clearly into black-and-white, and even half as magical and musical. By interval time, I was blown away by this charming work, but by the time the film ended, I guess the film got a shade less unique. And so, one of the five stars I had decided to give “Jagga Jasoos” till mid-point just faded away. And I speak as audience, not as a critic.

Rating: ****

Disney and Pictureshuru Productions present "Jagga Jasoos"

Produced by: Siddharth Roy Kapur, Anurag Basu & Ranbir Kapoor

Directed by: Anurag Basu

Written by: Anurag Basu and Amitabh Bhattacharya

Music: Pritam

Starring: Katrina Kaif, Ranbir Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla, Saswata Chaterjee, Sayani Gupta, Rajatava Dutta, Bijou Thnaagjam and others Sp. App.: Nawazuddin Siddiqui

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