Jagga Jasoos

Jagga Jasoos
Release date: July 14, 2017
Directed by: Anurag Basu
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Saswata Chatterjee, Saurabh Shukla, Sayani Gupta

The audience is unkind, at times even heartless. They don’t care if your film took three years to make, or ten. To pass a nominal litmus test of viewer approval, Jagga Jasoos released this past Friday to not as much shows as you’d expect a potential blockbuster film to do. Perhaps, indicative of the approach of the film, where it greenlights itself straight into musical-mode.

Katrina Kaif, as Shruti, plays the narrator of the story and a journalist in Jagga’s tales of adventures. As she hosts a hall full of children, she sings and recites Jagga’s (Ranbir Kapoor) exploits, and the audience in the cinema hall is treated similarly. Concepts are broken down for the children and viewers to grasp them without letting their mind work or wander. “Is Jagga even real?”, you ask of yourself when Shruti breaks down his life in chapters from a comic anthology.

Right from the get-go, Jagga Jasoos confidently chronicles its protagonist’s journey, with small nods to Harry Potter, as an orphaned, bespectacled Jagga sleeps under a staircase. He doesn’t have a broom tuck between his legs to circumvent the world, but he does have an electric scooter which he rides adeptly on. Little Jagga is too shy to speak, because he stutters. Ironically, he lives in a hospital and is never treated for his speech impediment by the staff who seems to be in love with him, so much so that they let him live on their property ever since the day he was born.

Tooti Footi (Saswata Chatterjee) introduces Jagga to the magical world of singing his words, with rhyme and verse at his disposal, at the behest of some simply brilliant writing. Childhood expositions aren’t supposed to mean much in Bollywood, but this one makes you tear up within the first 30 minutes of the film as little Jagga sings ‘Jhooth, bas jhooth’ when Tooti Footi leaves him at a boarding school.

The overarching plots revolve around international conspiracies, localized militancy, and a boy’s quest to be reunited with his father. As Jagga sings, he becomes a much more self-assured adolescent knockoff of Tintin, reliving his favourite Feluda novels, with his schoolmates. Anurag Basu manages to create a universe that he so ably did in his last outing — Barfi! (2012), a world majorly bereft of texting, mobile phones and also refrains from any dosage of puns or lyrics, consciously written to deliver easy laughs or nudge-winks. With reams of paper that must have been penned while making the film, and I am very sure there must be reams, what the film lacks in a manufactured vibe of tautness, it makes up for in originality, quirk, and simply charming your frowns off with its unadulterated charm.

As the film devolves from an outright musical caper, to more of an action adventure in the post-intermission half, you are welcomed by an incredibly clever piece ‘Nimbu mirchi’ which captures the settling-in chatter of the theatre audiences perfectly, and calls us out for our indifference and irreverence for what goes around us in the real world and in a cinema hall, when we casually display indifference – ‘Humko us se kya?’ – at a blast in Syria, or another brutal gory assault in the city.

The lyrical storytelling reaches its ultimate peak for me, at a birthday party for a dead person, where the ensemble sings in unison, ‘Sab khaanaa kha ke, daru pee ke chale gaye’. And Ranbir captures the philosophy of life in as much singsong fashion.

Anurag makes compromises along the way, as his Jagga sings a little bit less with every passing minute in the “business end” of the things. Chase sequences, elaborate props start substituting moments of genius, to tell a story that goes far away from where it began. But it’s a grand adventure, a comic bestseller, all with meerkats, giraffes, zebras, leopards, fictional African tribes, yearly tips on growing up through VHS tapes by a father to his son, a travelling circus, secret agents, caricaturish comedy sequences and most importantly, conviction.

What makes Jagga Jasoos an experience I will cherish and remember forever are the witty idiosyncrasies, how disabilities are not pity-tear-jerkers, where a bumbling clumsy accomplice isn’t unwanted and most importantly the smile it plastered across my face with its pure passion and a will and heart that can’t and won’t cower, even in the face of real-world meta and in-film difficulties.

The almost three-hour-long runtime of the film benefits greatly from sincere performances from Kapoor, Chatterjee and Saurabh Shukla. But Miss Kaif is as much as part of this brave film as the others. In a lot of content that has been written about the film, she has been dismissed as a Xanax to Ranbir’s cocaine in questions like, “What would have become of the film with a more able actor in place of Katrina?”. In whatever capacity she was initially cast, it’s as much of her film, as it’s any of the other cast members’ film. In some great disservice to her character, there are random dialogue inserts with a dubbing artist’s voice mixed in with her own voice. These inserts are not some chaste Hindu/Urdu couplets, just some completely normal last-minute additions perhaps.

Senior Valecha (yes, my father) made a dad-joke, one that did not take much imagination to woefully rhyme “Jagga Jasoos” with “Hagaa Jasoos”, mentioning the declared hateful verdict of the film on Whatsapp forwards in uncle-groups. The audience is not kind, but Jagga Jasoos surely is. Just like an overwhelming Indian parent with no regard for their child’s privacy or rebellious streak, the film provides with incredible joy, wonder, food (for thought and boxes filled with cakes and treats) and setting us ambitious standards (to look forward to Hindi films of the future)

To borrow from the film, Jagga Jasoos is made from the right-half of the brain, the one which is a little crazy, magical and not necessarily logical.

My rating: **** (4 out of 5)

Advertisements
    • Shreya
    • July 17th, 2017

    Your words made the film an unforgettable experience rather than just few scenes put beautifully well together.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: