The classified sections of newspapers are full of advertisements of desi detective agencies but our spy flicks still look to Hollywood for inspiration. Debutant Samar Sheikh breaks away from the foreign prototypes planted in Indian conditions and finds a jasoos in a girl next door. At one level, it works as a case file of a neighbourhood detective and at another, it reinvents the so-called Muslim social and Samar and writer Sanyukta Sheikh ensure that the two blend seamlessly. There are no grandiose designs, just a simple tale of a wannabe female detective in Hyderabad’s Charminar area told with lot of heart without letting the intrinsic logic slip for the most part.

Bilkis Ahmed or Bobby (Vidya Balan) has a knack for snooping on the neighbours before marriage. She is street smart and courageous but she wants to get over the tag of a match maker or breaker. Turned down by the local detective agency for lack of training and higher education, she decides to open her own company and wait for that one big case that will make her a hero in the eyes of her conservative father (Rajendra Gupta). Opportunity strikes when an aged man (Kiran Kumar) comes to her with a mysterious offer. Carried away by hefty fees, she forgets a detective needs to check the background of the client as well but then that is the beauty of Bobby Jasoos. Here is a detective who errs and learns along the way.

Sanyukta carefully builds the world around Bobby and a strong support cast led by the likes of Gupta, Supriya Pathak and Tanvi Azmi help add the much-needed layers to the screenplay. In fact, the silence between the father and the rebellious daughter, a space largely reserved for son in our mainstream cinema, leaves a lump in the throat. Of course, it is fashioned as an old school melodrama but a drama done with decency and delicious felicity. For long, Hindi film characters have lost their way in fairs and refugee camps. Here Sanyukta has found newer spots for humanity to lose its way.

Vidya has once again made a laudable choice. A Muslim girl trying to enter a male domain, it could have easily gone the gimmicky way, but Samar doesn’t overplay the rebel theme and Vidya ensures that her Bobby doesn’t remain just another bubbly character. She is obviously the hero of the piece but apart from a couple of disguises she doesn’t unnecessarily flaunt it. Here is a heroine who has forgotten that she is being shot. The Hyderabadi dialect and setting makes the narrative all the more rooted.

When Bobby gets on to the case, the romantic angle seems like a needless digression but the way Sanyukta slips it into the narrative it becomes one of the highlights of the film. Vidya and Ali Fazal seem like an odd pair on paper but it fulfils the demands of the script.

In fact, when the screenplay starts falling into a pattern and the dangers appear faux, it is the unlikely chemistry between Fazal and Vidya that brings us back to the edge.

BOBBY JASOOS

Genre: Drama/ Thriller

Director: Samar Sheikh

Cast: Vidya Balan, Ali Fazal, Rajendra Gupta, Supriya Pathak, Tanvi Azmi, Kiran Kumar, Akash Dahiya

Bottomline- A feel good entertainer that chips a few clichés off the Bollywood rock.