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‘Jagga Jasoos’ review: A comic book swamped with music

Jagga Jasoos is this year’s Mirzya. Like Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Anurag Basu gets audacious in playing with the craft and the narrative form. A young detective who sings and dances his way through solving cases — the most interesting bit about Jagga Jasoos is its musical structure. The film aspires to be a stylised Broadway musical. So the scenes and dialogues — even the TV news — get sung. The song-n-dance sequences take the story forward even as the screen gives the impression of a stage. While it does leave you with some absorbing moments, it also seems to turn the film into a remote experience for the viewers at large. Are we prepared to watch a Hindi film in a Western musical format? Are we willing to see “their” musicals make inroads into “ours”? Your guess is as good as mine.

Basu’s experimentation doesn’t stop with the music alone. There is a comic-book touch to the characters — from the Tin Tin hairstyle of Jagga (Ranbir in great form, save the overdoing of the stammering) to the bumbling ways of the love interest and unwitting sidekick Shruti Sengupta (Katrina Kaif, good fit for a cartoony role). The touch of whimsy is heightened in the way a reading of the Jagga Jasoos books is used as a linking device to move from one adventure to another — from the mystery of clock tower to the murder on the giant wheel. There is a conscious scaling up when it comes to the visuals though I did feel the colours seemed a little too saturated and then off at times. And like every good detective story the film makes you travel to distant, exotic lands, complete with zebras, giraffes and emus. Jagga Jasoos’s fantasy does get fantastic.

Jagga Jasoos
  • Director: Anurag Basu
  • Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Saswata Chatterjee, Saurabh Shukla, Sayani Gupta
  • Storyline: A young detective goes on a hunt to trace out his missing foster father

Basu is aiming at reaching out to the children and the kid in every adult. But behind the castles he builds in the air also lurk some serious issues — be it an extramarital affair or arms dropping at Purulia. Unfortunately, it gets all facile and showy with Basu throwing random references — from Subhash Chandra Bose to arms smuggling, from Naxalism to terrorism, from international espionage to blackmailing — without substantiating on any one of them or taking any of these threads to a logical end. There is also the oddly righteous talk about how the “maut ki mandi” (the death market) will turn humans extinct, like the dinosaurs. All these sombre, solemn concerns don’t hold up and make things needlessly complicated. In the midst of all this, the hunt for Jagga’s foster father (Saswata Chatterjee) gets way too protracted. However, the young Jagga’s relationship with his “Tooti-Phooti” dad does tug at the heartstrings. It’s this strong emotional core that Basu should have stuck with through the film, but unfortunately gets diluted as the action progresses. Shruti’s own tragedy, for instance, doesn’t go beyond the cosmetic.

 

The biggest failing of the film is that the young detective fails to acquire a unique personality of his own (as most sleuths are wont to) to sustain interest in further adventures even though the film ends with the promise of more. Eventually, it’s not a whole that you come back with but its parts. There are those funny little details — the cop with a posse of phones around him and his confusion about which one of them is ringing, the Stebe (not Steve mind you) Jobs Cyber Café in Kolkata or the casual slipping in of the fact that the heroine is older than the hero (in the film, of course) — and some bewitching musical set-pieces like the “Khaana khaake” song. I am still laughing at that jeep that gets stuck in the narrow streets during a chase early on in the film. In the climax though, it was still stuck at the same spot.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2020 1:16:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/jagga-jasoos-a-comic-book-swamped-with-music/article19279049.ece

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