Cast – Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Saswata Chatterjee, Saurabh Shukla, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
- Directed by – Anurag Basu
- Produced by – Siddharth Roy Kapur, Anurag Basu, Ranbir Kapoor
- Written by – Anurag Basu
- Music by – Pritam
- Cinematography – Ravi Varman
- Edited by – Akiv Ali
- Production house – Disney India, Picture Shuru Entertainment, Ishana Movies
- Running time – 3 hours
- Censor Rating – U/A
Musicals In India
Looking at standard Bollywood fare (let’s call them the Masala Movies), all Indian movies look like musicals, some films featuring even up to 10 songs. The very genre, however, encompasses much more than song and dance routines. La La land, Mamma Mia! The King And I, Fiddler on The Roof – these are musicals in the true sense of the term. With Jagga Jasoos we see the entry of musicals in Bollywood. Like anything new Anurag Basu’s latest flick is a deliciously crazy but is also a spectacularly colourful and adventurous project.
Let us get one thing straight – Jagga Jasoos is not strictly a children’s film – it is more of a movie that is likely to appeal to young adults and adults who suffer from bouts of nostalgia for the bygone era. A project like Jagga Jasoos comes by rarely and director Anurag Basu was certainly not ready to let it pass. Turning the film into a beautiful tribute to the stories and films that marked his childhood and perhaps your growing up years too – Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (Shundi, remember?), Feluda, Tintin, and Sherlock Homes. Tied in are themes that tug our heart strings – boarding schools in Darjeeling, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s purported secret passageway from Burma to north east India.
Jagga Jasoos is the story of Jagga, a boy with a stutter, who is adopted by Prof. Badal Bagchi aka Badluck Bagchi aka Tutty Futty, and taught to sing to be able to communicate. But Bagchi is involved in a very sinister plot and has to leave Jagga at a boarding school. Long story short, Jagga grows up to be a Jasoos and with the help of reporter Shruti Sengupta, sets out in search of his foster father. Providing the backdrop is the roaring arms trade business of the world and the Purulia Arms Drop incident of 1995.
Too Much Music?
Pritam’s tracks breathe fresh life into the tirade music that has been coming out of Bollywood for a while now. The songs are quirky and fast and are quite capable of whisking you away into the make-believe world of Jagga Jasoos. There are about 6 listed soundtracks and over 20 screenplay songs (dialogues played out as songs) that make Jagga Jasoos the perfect musical. The lyrics (most of them by Amitabh Bhattacharya) may start out as nonsense verses but come up with a profundity that belies the lightness with which the songs have been treated. Khaana Khaahke is the perfect example of this. So unless you believe that “too much music” (whatever that may be) is a shortcoming, Jagga Jasoos is a delight. This film is testimony that Indian music composers need only an opportunity to mature from the sad number – romantic number routine and to come up with some fantastic songs.
What’s Good, What’s Not?
The USP of Jagga Jasoos is the tripod that it rests on.
- Ranbir Kapoor – We’re truly convinced that Ranbir Kapoor is India’s answer to Jim Carrey. Or perhaps a new an improved version of Carrey who carries (pun intended) off Bollywood style dances and romances with equal élan. In and as Jagga Jasoos, Ranbir is spontaneous and full of energy. As a showman he reminds us (quite a bit) of his grandfather Raj Kapoor.
- Ravi Varman – Cinematographer Ravi Varman is at his best. Shot across the beautiful landscapes of Darjeeling, beaches of Thailand, and deserts of Morocco – each shot fills the screen with stunning colours and vivid sights. This dreamland in which Jagga’s story unfolds is the soul of the film.
- Anurag Basu – The director’s own fertile imagination combined with the ability to take on an ambitious but certainly risky project certainly earns him brownie points. The adaptation of stage techniques adds to the directorial finesse.
A hat tip to Saswata Chatterjee and Katrina Kaif for supporting Ranbir on screen very ably.
The lack or at least slackness of editing is a major flaw. Jagga loses its audience somewhere in the second half. The director in his attempt to keep the creative juices flowing loses track of the plot at times. Going overboard is another pitfall creative directors must avoid. Unfortunately, Basu could not manage it at many places.
Things we know –
Jagga Jasoos is a class apart
Jagga Jasoos brings to Bollywood a much needed genre – musicals
Jagga Jasoos in any part of the world (apart from India) would have been the next craze for the ‘young adult’ audience
Jagga Jasoos may have a sequel coming
Jagga Jasoos is a very creatively made movie which showcases superb cinematography, Ranbir Kapoor at his best, stunning visuals
Things we don’t know –
If the action loving, glamour addicted average Indian moviegoer will appreciate Jagga Jasoos
So if you are looking for a run-of-the-mill movie or star power or something with realistic action or even a plot, you are likely to be disappointed.
If you are, however, used to musicals, have or at least like children, are interested in fantasy or Feluda-style detective stories and still (albeit secretly) read Tintin; if you are ready to witness the introduction of a new genre into Indian cinema, ready to sample this audiovisual treat – head straight out, book your ticket, and watch Jagga Jasoos.
Rating – 3½ *