Movie Review: Jagga Jasoos

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Saswata Chatterjee (or that Insurance Agent / Assassin of Kahani), Saurabh Shukla (or that Inspector in Barfi) and few motley and completely unmemorable characters

Once in a while, someone in Bollywood tries to do something, way out of the ordinary, reach for the Sun but they fail to realise, that like Icarus their wings are made of wax.

In the case of Jagga Jasoos, that Icarus would be Anurag Basu and the movie’s meandering plot would be the wax wings.

The movie starts with a story telling session by Shruti Sengupta (Katrina Kaif) on the exploits of the great Jagga.

But who is Jagga?

Jagga (Ranbir Kapoor) is an orphan who grows up in a hospital. One day he sees a man fall off a goods train and gets help to bring him back to the hospital. That man repeatedly asks Jagga for his name, but the young boy does not speak. It turns out the boy is afraid to talk since he stammers. The man walks up to Jagga and inspires him to sing his thoughts out, if words are a problem. This particular scene is actually quite inspiring and one of the better moments of the film. However, this also tragically sets the premise for making the film a musical, something that in hindsight should never have been attempted.

Through musical conversations, Tutifuti Bagchi and Jagga become very close and Tutifuti becomes Jagga’s foster father. Tutifuti, as the name suggests has a tendency to get into accidents and troubles and also earns the moniker “Bad Luck Bagchi”.

The idyllic days are interrupted when someone spots Tutifuti and few big bad men arrive in Sarkari Ambassadors to hunt him down. The biggest, baddest and baldest of them all is a Sinha. Sinha leaves a message for Tutifuti which leads the latter to admit Jagga in a boarding school and scoot off to some exotic and mysterious adventure.

Jagga grows up with an insatiable appetite for asking questions and solving them. This results in his first success where he cracks a classic whodunit. A tale of revenge and passion involving the History Teacher, her husband who is the PT teacher and the pretty English teacher (Wonder why is that the language teachers (English / French) are the Gitas and the non-language teachers are the Sitas?)

To be fair, the simple plot has its moments. However, the musical style is completely unsuited to the mystery plot’s nuances. What makes a mystery story successful? It is the suspense. The musical format completely removes the nail biting anticipation, leaving the viewer confused whether he should be angry at the killer or dancing to the death of the English teacher.

The second book introduces the heroine Shruti Sengupta (Katrina Kaif) to Jagga’s life. Shruti is a reporter but has the same penchant for accidents that Tutifuti had.

When she is not falling or spilling water on others, Shruti is a reporter tracking the illegal arms trade. She is in Jagga’s town to meet an informer.

Shruti meets the informer in a giant wheel. She warns him that these rides make her uncomfortable but the informer insists. As the ride is going on, Shruti shuts her eyes and cannot listen to the informer. Someone stabs the informer and Shruti accidentally places her hand on the knife, making it appear as if she had done the murder. The ever curious Jagga who had followed Shruti sees this and decides to come to her rescue. The rest of the plot revolves around how he gets her out of trouble and in the process unravels a secret underground tunnel between Myanmar and India to smuggle illicit arms.

At this point, your head is probably overloaded and you need a break. Incidentally, Katrina asks two kids in her story telling session, “Bored Ho Na?”

It is as if even the makers understand the absurdity of claiming to make a kid’s movie when the plot becomes so heavy and serious. So to justify the plot, they sing sanctimonious tripe about how none of us cares about the larger world until something happens to us.

The already exhausted viewer is now going to be presented with an even more exhausting finale.

You see, every year on his birthday Jagga receives a VHS tape (yes a VHS tape in 2000s) from Tutifuti Bagchi. However, that year he doesn’t receive the tape.

On a parallel story, it turns out that govt’s investigating officer Sinha isn’t really a govt. officer but a two timing blackguard referred in known circles as Blackmail Sinha! (Cue Surprise Sound)

And to add to the surprise, Blackmail Sinha has been using Tutifuti , by tricking Tutifuti into thinking he is going to stop the illegal arms trade, when all Blackmail Sinha wanted was evidence to blackmail the illegal arms dealers. There is mention of dark and sinister things like Purulia Arms Drop Case but nothing amounts to anything or connects to anywhere.

Jagga convinces Shruti to try and track Tutifuti in an obscure African country. At this point, once the plot enters Africa, the director and crew just give up and the climax is reached in the most ridiculous manner conceivable. Some critics call it play of the absurd and wonderfully whimsical. Don’t listen to them, the plot is just stupid.

But here is the pinch! There may be a sequel, talk about ambition!

A wise man once told me that you must never combine too many different types of food. Wish that same wise man had advised Anurag Basu to never combine so many movie styles. Is Jagga Jasoos a musical? Is Jagga Jasoos a kid’s movie? Is Jagga Jasoos a mystery movie? It is all and none, at the same time. It is Lala Land + Sherlock directed for Nickelodeon.

Ranbir, Ranbir you are extremely talented and you are my favourite actor. But you select the most horrible scripts. Remember Madras Café. No one had made a movie on Rajiv Gandhi assassination.

Similarly no one has made a movie based on Purulia Arms Drop Case. Why not just make an an action movie? Make yourself a RAW agent, a la Saif Ali Khan in Agent Vinod.

Why this stubborn insistence of playing the chocolate boy or the lover boy or the boy who is discovering himself. Why can’t you just be a normal Indian mass movie star?

In this particular week, there was absolutely no competition. There aren’t even good Hollywood movies. The viewer had no option. Still if you cannot get the viewer back, that would count as a tragedy.

Katrina is as usual pretty as a picture and a bit out of place in her role as an Indian girl. In this case, she happens to be out of place as a Bengali reporter, who speaks without a tinge of Bengali accent.

Saswata Chatterjee has acted well in a badly sketched role.

Less said about Saurabh Shukla the better.

Overall rating: Ho-hum, don’t bother downloading and watching, just watch some other movie again.