Tejas Nair | July 16, 2017
Rating – 1/10
Anurag Basu is already known in Bollywood as the master of flawed films, and his latest venture just adds another feather to his cap.
Jagga (Ranbir Kapoor) is a wizard of some kind with a coincidental haircut resembling that of Tintin who is supposed to follow his high school course but is instead found to be on an impromptu, never- ending adventure in search of his missing foster father Tutti Futti aka Bagchi (Saswata Chatterjee). Katrina Kaif plays a hardcore journalist named Shruti who starts as a narrator in the film (narrating Jagga’s story to a bunch of over-smart, hunger-less, and restive kids) and ends up finding herself all-in in Jagga’s madcap quest. The plot basically takes its viewers on a roller-coaster ride through various locations in and around Asia and Africa as Jagga and Shruti sing their way to find Bagchi’s whereabouts, who, as per a deadpan intelligence inspector (Saurabh Shukla) is not entirely who he claims to be.
The magic that Bagchi uses to mold Jagga into what he is today – whether with a trick to hide his inability to speak without stammering or the ignorance about worldly matters – is the central theme of the film, ultimately conveying that father-son love is eternal. This may have been what the makers originally intended to convey, but there’s no way one can fully ascertain this owing to the haphazard layout of an otherwise ennui- inducing and sour broth that is this film.
The biggest problem with Jagga Jasoos (or I should say director Basu’s treatment of the story) is that it is an adventure musical that fails to hold itself together. It tries to mix all possible genres into one and ends up drowning, while singing, in its own vomit. I could call it very ambitious (a la Hollywood musicals and plays), but then it would mean looking at this failure as a colossal disappointment and a gigantic waste of resources. Majority of the characters in the film – starting from Jagga to Shruti to that redundant character in the corner of that frame – literally sing out their dialogues. Plus points for the creativity here, but there’s no denial that these songs uttered by characters as they communicate with each other is highfalutin claptrap in the highest order.
With the exception of Bagchi’s character, there’s not a single drop of sense in what happens in these three hours. If I could sum it up in one sentence, I would say this: the film is basically a voyeuristic Kapoor beat-boxing his way out of every situation he is in, while his partner Kaif tumbles and falls down a couple of times, together trying to stop war, and replace arms and ammunition with candies. Everything is easy for Jagga, but it’s his magnanimity that he lets Shruti fly an aircraft sometime in the narrative even as all threshold points of sensibility fly out of the window and the audience is looking for the exit sign.
There are many annoying things in the film, but the one that takes the cherry is Kappor’s idiotic expressions as he sings his way into solutions so as to stop another event of illegal arms trade from happening. How thoughtful! He is glamorous, all right, but I do not want to see grown-up actors donning school uniforms riding pretentious crude-based contraptions fooling around (remember Kabir Khan’s massively idiotic Tubelight that released few weeks back?) and getting involved in serious issues with the hope of rectifying them. Such an approach automatically disqualifies it as a kids’ film, forcing me to not even recommend this to kids. Kaif is a mellow narrator at start, but as her role becomes more evident and inclusive to the story, she borrows Jagga’s mindlessness and starts tripping off things – stairs, gates, windows, director’s cues. Most of us already know that she cannot act, and here she proves it with much more panache. Shukla is expressionless throughout, while others are busy making horrible noises just because they are in a musical. I’m pretty sure Chatterjee was cursing the makers the whole time he was acting as Tutty Futty – a man without a cause but with an embarrassing side-burn.
Writer Basu seems to have a penchant for people with speech impairment (see Barfi! (2012)), but this one here is clearly a film that shouldn’t have been made. They say it is for kids and those who are young at heart, but what kind of a kids’ film deals with illegal arms trade and has the protagonist sneering when a man – whoever he may be – dies in a blast? There cannot be a single excuse for watching this film. Of course, it is shot and choreographed beautifully with some great production design and camera work, and looks like a lot of efforts from the crew, but what is the point when the story is as hollow and unrehearsed as a modern-day stand-up comedian’s politically incorrect joke?
Other few things to be noted which are annoying as hell are the background score, the cringe-worthy songs by Pritam, and overall cast performance. To state the obvious, people who are not a fan of musicals are going to be tortured left, right, and center. There’s not a single reason why anyone should spend their time at the movies this week to catch this blunder, even if they are a fan. We must all come together and let this slip dissolve in itself.
BOTTOM LINE: Anurag Basu’s “Jagga Jasoos” is a foolish film that raises the bar so high up that when it falls back on the ground immediately, the shatters are filled with noises of horrid screams let out by people who watched it already.
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