A sleeper hit

Deepa Gahlot
Friday, 14 July 2017

If a film aims at being a musical romantic action comedy, then it is biting off more than it can chew, to begin with. The attempt behind Anurag Basu’s Jagga Jasoos is admirable — he started out wanting to make a Tintin and Harry Potter like kiddie-pleasing adventure, using a derivative Broadway-style musical format and bright comic-book colour palette.

Somewhere down the line, he forgot about a coherent plot.

If a film aims at being a musical romantic action comedy, then it is biting off more than it can chew, to begin with. The attempt behind Anurag Basu’s Jagga Jasoos is admirable — he started out wanting to make a Tintin and Harry Potter like kiddie-pleasing adventure, using a derivative Broadway-style musical format and bright comic-book colour palette.

Somewhere down the line, he forgot about a coherent plot.

The story is narrated by Katrina Kaif, out of Jagga Jasoos comics, being performed and watched by a bunch of kids. After a prologue about an arms drop at Purulia in the 1990s, we see orphan Jagga (an utterly cute young actor) adopted by a man whose life he saved. The stuttering Jagga calls his foster father Badal Bagchi (Saswata Chatterjee) Tutti Futti, because of his accident prone ways - later described in a song as “bad-lucky.”

Since Jagga has a painful stutter, Bagchi advises him to sing, so he does, and everybody around him does too, which gets tedious after a point. The father vanishes one day, leaving Jagga in a boarding school and for years just sends him a Happy Birthday video.

The Manipur town is visited by a reporter Shruti (Katrina Kaif), an equally “bad-lucky” girl, who end up as Jagga’s sidekick, as he goes hunting for his father in lovely African locations, their antics watched by exotic animals looking as befuddled as the audience must be feeling. He is chased all over by a mysterious “intelligence” officer (Saurabh Shukla), but of the actual arms-dealer villain you get just a glimpse, because Basu must have planned a sequel.

The first half has Jagga (Ranbir Kapoor overage as a schoolboy, but you don’t mind that — he is just brilliant), zooming around on a bike that looks like a broom, solving local mysteries. It picks up when the hunt for Bagchi starts, and some action sequences are really well done. But the films does suffer from an overdose of cuteness, lack of humour, and the absence of a real menacing villain for Jagga to fight.

Ranbir Kapoor, throws himself into the role whole-heartedly and drags Katrina Kaif up by the bootstrap -- if she can’t act, she can at least take the many pratfalls in good spirit. The film looks gorgeous, but for a musical, Jagga Jasoos does not have that one great number you come out humming from the theatre. It needed to have the pace and madcap spirit of a comic book, instead it is long and laborious.

Rating 3/5

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