They say that the world of charismatic cinema is one that transports you to another world, another time, another feel – however fantastical that world, time or feel might be. With that as the referential point, Jagga Jasoos is cinematic opulence at its grandest, sometimes way too grand bordering on over-indulgence! But when was the last time in Bollywood that you were taken out of your cynical self, and transported to the magical and innocent world of your childhood, to ‘Jhumritalaiyya‘ and ‘Timbaktoo‘, that gets so deliciously garnished with Tintin’s adventures, Felu’das ‘tiktiki‘, Ray’s world of Gupi & Bagha from ‘Shundi‘ to ‘baagh mama‘ to skies eventually opening up to sumptuous sweet treats, to double headed monsters, to disney’s magic kingdoms and animal worlds and what not! And kudos to Anurag Basu for daring to dream about that extravagant canvas, experimenting with two brand new themes for bollywood – one a fully developed musical, and two the comic strip style of narration; bringing it all together in extremely imaginative and detailed out frames and getting it right.. well almost!
The first half of the film is pure delight and the lovely chemistry drawn out between Ranbir Kapoor and Shaswata Chatterjee is easily the best thing about the movie.. Moments like father son duo jumping innocently on mud puddles or Jagga’s first musical speech lessons from Tooti Footi will stay on for very long with you for their beautiful portrayal… Its a tragedy then that this very core actually gets lost amidst the other ambitious but little messy ideas of Basu in the larger part of the film and we are left wanting for so much more of that spark.. The second half has way too much going on, and the editing there loses its grip and logic in multiple places, a part of which Basu possibly thought can be blamed on the comic strip style of storytelling and be gotten away with! But alas that does not happen and does water down the very strong first half that the film creates riding on that super cool skater bike of Jagga!
One never gets bored though – so breathtaking is the cinematic experience with Ravi Verman‘s opulent camera work right from the rich colorful visual treat on a vibrant canvas to the haphazard brisk camera navigation amidst crowded setups to capture the intended chaos, and the brilliant musical experiments by Pritam and Amitabha Bhattacharya duo who really push the envelop far beyond what we have seen in more traditional bollywood! Yes, the editing could have been much crisper and some of the gaping holes in the script should not have been allowed to stay as they are, especially how Shruti continues all that action in the climax with that plastered hand for so long! On the other hand, there are scattered screenplay inspirations drawn from Barfi along with multiple other Ray masterpieces, Tintins, Holmes, Harry Potters and what not, but it still appears like nice fresh treatment overall with strong subtle tributes!
Performance wise, Ranbir Kapoor is in absolute top form and he makes Jagga and himself one and the same! He is such a natural that his stutter also never feels caricaturish, and he almost passes off as the school boy as well through all his innocence and genuinely heartfelt performance. He ensures that Katrina Kaif does not have much to do and can pass off amicably looking cute and acting funny.. Sashwata Chatterjee is brilliant for the screen time he gets which is unfairly too less for his talent.. Rajatava Dutta lends solid support.. Saurabh Shukla could have done more with his meaty character… Overall they all come together as one strong well coordinated ensemble!
Its such a shame then that the Indian cinegoer is not yet ready to appreciate such bold experimentation and kills a franchise even before it gets created.. The movie ends with a perfect pretext and cue for a sequel, which unfortunately will never get made anymore! Which is sad and a big loss – because very few movies have the power to constantly make you smile through its entire length, and Anurag Basu and his world of Jagga succeeded in doing just that for me – magically, musically, whimsically and cinematically!
I am so glad that I could finally catch this fun ride after a good couple of weeks and did not miss the big screen experience, you should not too!