Jazbaa, co-written and directed by Sanjay Gupta, presents the tale of a leading criminal lawyer who's forced to defend a murderer in a bid to get back her abducted daughter. Jazbaa offers a nice mix of action, suspense, and emotions with an undercurrent of social commentary. Women safety is a major issue in India, especially when it comes to the metros, and despite the repeated assurances of the governments, state as well as centre, the results at the ground level have been far from satisfactory. Jazbaa brings the issue of women safety to the fore while highlighting the constant dangers a working woman is subjected to on a day-to-day basis.
Women-centric films are still quite new to Bollywood and it's heartening to see mainstream directors like Sanjay Gupta making feministic films revolving around strong female characters. Jazbaa can be seen as a successor to films like Mardaani and NH10. Hopefully, films like Jazbaa will usher in a new era of filmmaking as far as Bollywood is concerned. In an age when the Indian Air Force is envisaging women officers in the role of future fighter pilots, it's only fitting that the Hindi film industry too starts treating the ideals of women centrism with more gravity.
Jazbaa marks Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's return to the silver screen after a hiatus of five years. While it is far from being her best performance, it nevertheless serves as a great reminder what the former Miss World is capable of doing in front of the motion-picture camera. There are a few sequences in the movie wherein she looks a bit over the top but her performance on a whole comes across as both gritty and effective. And, yes, she is in perfect shape! Hopefully, with Aishwarya returning to the fold, it will become easier for other senior actresses to get meatier roles in the days to come.
"While Aishwarya makes a strong comeback, Irrfan succeeds in delivering yet another thumping performance. "
After a weak first act, Jazbaa brilliantly picks up during the second act only to fizzle out in the second half of the third act. But the movie offers several enjoyable moments with Irrfan Khan delivering one punchy one-liner after another. Jazbaa presents Irrfan in the whole new avatar of a kickass hero. As Inspecter Yohan, he comes across as a cross between Chulbul Pandey and Singham. The keen-eyed viewers may see a dash of Rowdy Rathore in there as well. It is indeed a testament to Irrfan's remarkable range as an actor that irrespective of the role he looks so natural and it's only when we start comparing the different roles that he has essayed that we begin to appreciate his acting talents.
Overall, Jazbaa proves to be a decent movie viewing experience with a strong social message. The movie's plot suffers from several inconsistencies and flaws, but Sanjay Gupta's direction succeeds in holdings the things together. The influence of Korean cinema on Gupta's choice of cinematography for the movie is quite obvious and harks back to Zinda, which is a remake of the Korean film Oldboy. In Jazbaa, we get to witness a completely different Mumbai that looks eerie and splendid at the same time, thanks to the lavish use of special effects. While Aishwarya makes a strong comeback, Irrfan succeeds in delivering yet another thumping performance. The movie's biggest surprise, perhaps, comes from Shabana Azmi who plays the part of a rape victim's mother with great subtlety. Atul Kulkarni and Jackie Shroff show flashes of brilliance in the limited screen time they get. Jazbaa, despite its flaws, succeeds in throwing spotlight on the all-important issue of women safety in India while simultaneously serving as an engaging action thriller.
A version of this review was first published at A Potpourri of Vestiges.