Jazbaa: Shockingly sloppy

The plot has all the ingredients for an entertaining potboiler but the director and the dialogue writer do not create empathy for the characters.

October 09, 2015 08:33 pm | Updated 10:32 pm IST

Aishwarya Rai

Aishwarya Rai

Five years back when Aishwarya Rai Bachchan took a break from films, she was not known as an actor who could carry a film on her shoulders. The general consensus was she could perform in the company of competent directors. But those were different times. ‘Heroine-driven’ was not the buzz word then. She is in tune with the times but has picked a rickety vehicle to return to the centrestage. And has believed in a driver, whose driving skills she is not familiar with.

She plays Anuradha Varma, a hot shot lawyer, who has no qualms in saving people who are on the wrong side of the law. One day her daughter gets kidnapped and the abductor wants her to save a drug peddler and alleged rapist called Miyaz Shaikh (Chandan Roy Sanyal). As new evidence crops up and things get murky, she finds support in her college friend Yohaan (Irrfan Khan), a suspended cop, who still carries some latent feelings for her.

Genre: Drama/Thriller Director: Sanjay Gupta Cast: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Irrfan Khan, Shabana Azmi, Jackie Shroff, Chandan Roy Sanyal Bottomline: A cheesy thriller that struggles to find its target audience.

Adapted from a Korean film, Seven Days , the plot has all the ingredients to be turned into an entertaining potboiler but somehow Gupta and dialogue writer (seasoned Kamlesh Pandey), do not invest time in creating empathy for the characters. In his hurry to create his typical green-ochre colour scheme and fast intercutting, Gupta doesn’t allow the characters to breathe reducing an actor like Irrfan Khan to a dialogue machine obsessed with his jackets. He doesn’t realise that the subject requires an emotional connect for the audience to back Anuradha. It seems all the effort has been put in finding offbeat, obscure locations and staple melodramatic situations, which have begun to evoke laughter these days, are recycled to push the narrative. The messaging on female infanticide and victims of physical assault remain adsorbed on the surface. The logic is conveniently moulded to give Irrfan a larger than life image. So as a suspended cop when he asks for back up nobody questions his orders.

There is hardly any synergy between Yohaan and Anuradha because Gupta has put the two characters on different platforms. Through Irrfan he wants to reach out to the lowest common denominator and with Aishwarya he attempts to reach out to an audience which like their cinema to be sanitised. It results in mishmash.

Gupta is also unusually tacky in the first half in generating thrilling moments and taut editing, which are known to be his strengths. The scene before interval where Anuradha is supposed to run in desperation and ultimately breakdown is shockingly sloppy for a director who has given sleek stuff like Kaante and Zinda .

Having said that, Gupta is not the kind of director who will tell you how to internalise the character. As one of the songs in the film suggests, he can create the scene but then how you navigate through it is up to you. Irrfan knows how to underplay even when you are saddled with a string of cheesy, throwaway lines. But Aishwarya seems to think widening of eyes, flaring of nostrils and raising the voice will do the trick. It only makes the scenario shrill. Sincerity doesn’t always make the character convincing. Despite the dust and grime around her and a healthy dose of glycerine in her eyes, the performance looks plastic. There is hardly any connection with the character caught in a serious situation. In the second half Shabana Azmi, who is in similar space as Aishwarya, shows how to do it.

Things do improve in the second half and the big reveal is nicely wrapped deep into the narrative but by then one has little Jazbaa left to back this lacklustre exercise.

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