Mumbai, 14 Jul 2017 15:19 IST
Updated: 18 Jul 2017 12:02 IST
The film, directed by Anurag Basu, is slow, largely boring and not engaging enough for one to spend nearly three hours on.
Silence proved to be golden for Ranbir Kapoor in Barfi! (2012). Five years on, director Anurag Basu has now empowered Kapoor with a sense of hearing, blessed him with a sharp inquisitive brain, gave him a singing voice. Welcome to the world of Jagga Jasoos, a stuttering prodigy out to solve some grave mysteries.
At a time when songs are merely used for promotional purposes, a musical presents the audience a chance to relive the good old lyrical times of yore. Who better than Disney, creators of popular musicals like Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast, to create the lyrical, adventurous, romantic world of Jagga Jasoos.
Though Kapoor and Basu have vehemently denied it, as a character Jagga draws inspiration from Tin Tin, a popular comic book icon created by Belgian cartoonist Herge. He also carries the Tin Tin signature hairdo. Both have great acumen, and like Tin Tin, Jagga’s adventures, too, are chronicled in comic books, but what separates them is the speech disorder and their quests.
The story begins in a classroom where Shruti Sengupta (Katrina Kaif) is reading the opening chapter from the Jagga Jasoos comic.
Jagga is a stuttering orphan who finds a family in a wounded Badal Bagchi (Saswata Chatterjee), fondly referred to as Tutti Futti by Jagga. Baghchi is a teacher, a father figure who advises the boy to sing in order to get rid of his stammering.
As his wounds heal, Bagchi reluctantly leaves Jagga, promising to come back in six months but never does. The boy now grows into a teenager, still bogged by stammering, but uses his sharp brain to solve a class teacher’s murder — that would later be chronicled as Mystery of the Clock Tower.
It’s his second case (Murder on the Giant Wheel) that not only introduces him to journalist Shruti, but also leads him on the trail of an international illegal arms sale.
The first such racket was exposed by intelligent sleuth Bagchi in Purulia, West Bengal in 1995. Jagga’s quest that was earlier personal, finding Tutti Futti, sets him on an adventurous ride from Manipur to Kolkata and eventually to Morocco . Jagga and Shruti are chased by the corrupt sleuth Kishan Pal Sinha (Saurabh Sinha).
Traditionally, Hindi musicals speak of romantic tales, but the idea of an Indian adventurous, romantic musical must have triggered some anxiousness amongst cinegoers. Sadly, Jagga Jasoos fails to keep you on the edge of your seat for most its nearly three-hour duration.
You can't really blame the prime plot, but perhaps director Basu failed to translate that into a robust screenplay. Much of the first half is tedious, (that though has nothing to do with Jagga's stammering), providing few moments that lift your mood. Save for Jagga solving his teacher’s murder and his first meeting with Shruti, there’s nothing really to rave about the first half.
One doesn’t need to say it, but Shruti herself tells the students, ‘lagta hai aap bore ho gaye hain’ (guess, you’re bored) let’s take a 15-minute break. Perhaps, Basu himself got that inkling and incorporated this scene. It’s almost like the film is issuing an apology for boring you, but promising you better a experience in the second half.
Thankfully, that begins on bright note as Jagga and Shruti head off to Morocco. The adventurous joyride that you’re craving for has finally begun, and the subsequent happenings make you believe this will end on a high note leading to some stunning disclosure.
While it holds promise for much of the second half, a rather timid, melodramatic climax plot derails the film. From Subhash Chandra Bose to CIA, ISIS, 9/11, 26/11, all find a mention in the film. “Wouldn’t it better if instead of arms, we dropped chocolates to the poor and kids,” says Jagga, leaving you smirking on your seat.
Drawing inspiration from Tin Tin is perfectly fine, but some of the sequences, particularly, the high octane chases (Jagga-Shruti being chased across roof tops, hilly towns, flying a Cessna plane in the desert), are reminiscent of Steven Spielberg’s 3D motion picture animated adventures drama, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011). Jagga Jasoos action sequences, though, are shot poorly and don't give you the thrills.
Jagga Jasoos is more a musical drama, than a musical. We don’t expect the actors to sing. The problem with Jagga though is that Kapoor can’t sing, but as an actor he is hampered by the stammering. If we take out the songs, how different is Jagga from a deaf and mute Barfi?
In an interview, Kapoor was candid enough to admit that it’s his drawback that he can’t sing. There are a couple of scenes where Jagga doesn’t stammer, and they are not lyrical conversations. Kapoor is not poor, but he’s far from his best. While the lean school-boyish physique is noteworthy, you almost question was there really a need for Jagga to be stammering? The stammering proves to be an impediment to the actor in this film. Stuttering Kapoor’s adventures turn into a 'galti se mistake'.
Contrary to Kapoor, Kaif chips in with a pleasantly surprising performance. There were murmurs of the film being delayed because Basu felt the chemistry wasn’t right between the now former lovers Kaif and Kapoor, and so they reshot some scenes.
Though amusing at times, the Jagga and Shruti chemistry provides for the most entertainment. Like Badal Bagchi, Shruti is accident-prone, but this is what binds the duo. Kaif has chipped in with a funny and measured performance. Saurabh Shukla is his usual best. He’s perhaps the most consistent performer in the film.
Lyricists Amitabh Bhattacharya, Neela Mishra and music composer Pritam deserve credit for creating some unique and enthralling numbers — 'Galti Se Mistake', 'Ullu Ka Phatta', 'Phir Wahi' and 'Khaana Khaake'.
An opera-style musical would perhaps not quite match to the desi taste, so Bhattacharya, Pritam and Mishra have stuck to the film sequence following Basu’s brief studiously to churn out a few memorable numbers.
The problem with Jagga Jasoos is that it's slow, stuttering, largely boring and not engaging enough for one to spend precious 2 hours and 42 minutes on. The biggest cheer in the film is its last scene that throws a ‘two-headed’ stunner. It promises a sequel, but will Basu be able to conjure one up? Let's mute and watch.