Jagga Jasoos is the latest offering from filmmaker Anurag Basu, known for films such as Murder (2004), Gangster (2006), and Life in a... Metro (2007) and Barfi! (2012), which was a major box office success. Now comes Jagga Jasoos, starring Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif in the lead roles, and also featuring Saswata Chatterjee (who played the menacing serial killer Bob Biswas in Sujoy Ghosh's Kahaani) and the veteran thespian Saurabh Shukla.
While watching this movie, it's difficult not to be reminded of Tintin, Indiana Jones, and Mad Max. Yet, somehow it does not work...
The film— a collaboration of Disney India and Picture Shuru Productions, the joint venture of Anurag Basu and Ranbir Kapoor—revolves around the adventures of a young man named Jagga, who although he stammers and comes across as a simpleton is endowed with a razor-sharp mind which he uses to solve crimes. Jagga Jasoos has the look and feel of a quintessential Disney live action adventure thanks to its brilliant production design and VFX. With references to films ranging from Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times to Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Cercle Rouge to Akira Kurosawa's Kagemusha, Jagga Jasoos is a mishmash of ideas and themes: a detective thriller, a Disney adventure, a musical, a video game, a comic caper and more. While watching this movie, it's difficult not to be reminded of Tintin, Indiana Jones, and Mad Max. Yet, somehow it does not work, with the multiple influences combining to create an effect that seems superficial, incoherent and superfluous. Yes, Anurag Basu's love for cinema is admirable but self-indulgence can often be fatal. One can only hope that the movie at least breaks even so that we can have the sequel that Jagga Jasoos teases us with before its end credits, with the shape-shifting Nawazuddin Siddiqui playing the two-headed villain.
As for Ranbir Kapoor, there is a new sleuth in the world of truth seekers and his name is Jagga and although he is no Byomkesh Bakshi or Sherlock Holmes or Feluda, he certainly is likable and effective. It's difficult to think of another mainstream actor who can take such risks and yet pull it off. But, remember, this is the Ranbir from three-four years ago. Owing to the slump in his box office during the last couple of years or so he has forced to do out and out commercial films like Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Having said that, Ranbir shows how committed an actor he is in Jagga Jasoos. Alas, the movie's incoherent narrative fails to do justice to his efforts!
If you like Ranbir and have the patience to watch him emote to the instructions of a self-indulgent ringmaster for about three hours then 'Jagga Jasoos' is for you.
The USP of Jagga Jasoos has to be its visuals and Basu and team seem to have left no stone unturned to achieve the desired level of visual brilliance. The performances are solid and all seem to revolve around Ranbir's stammering sleuth act. Saswata Chatterjee deserves a special mention for playing his part with a mix of subtlety and flamboyance. Katrina Kaif has never been known for her acting and her main job here is to complement Ranbir and look good while doing it which she does reasonably well.
Apart from the aforementioned flaws, Jagga Jasoos drastically suffers from pacing issues, especially in the second half. Basu and his editor would have done well to do away with at least 15-20 minutes of footage. Jagga Jasoos is essentially a movie that's meant for the children or for the child hiding inside you. If you like Ranbir and have the patience to watch him emote to the instructions of a self-indulgent ringmaster for about three hours then certainly Jagga Jasoos is for you. As for the rest, you would be better off watching it in the comfort of your homes on a slow Sunday afternoon once the film's DVD is out.
A version of this review was first published in A Potpourri of Vestiges.