Bollywood Film Review “Jagga Jasoos”



First, the Recap:

The relationship we carry with those closest to us can be as varied as the weather. However, the one we carry closer still, under most conditions and situations, is with our parents. Being the ones that have nurtured and cared for us from childhood, there is a bond not usually broken easily, even when times of struggle and disagreement have ensued, and therefore their absence is felt when not in their presence.  For one young man named Jagga (Ranbir Kapoor), this is the case, having been raised by his accident-prone father/guardian Bagchi (Saswata Chatterjee), whom he affectionately called “TutiFuti”. Inexplicably disappearing from his life as a child, the now-adult Jagga chooses to utilize his brilliant detective skills to seek out his beloved TutiFuti.

With the only clues being a yearly VHS birthday wish he receives from TutiFuti every year, Jagga sets out to locate him, along the way becoming inadvertently involved with an equally accident-prone journalist named Shruti (Katrina Kaif), whose on her own quest for closure and answers involving an arms smuggler (Denzil Smith) and his associated business that cost the life of someone dear to her. As the two embark on their now-linked endeavors, they are forced to navigate the complicated feelings they’re dealing with inside and for each other in addition to dodging a corrupt investigator (Saurabh Shukla).  Soon in over their heads via several eccentric misadventures, Jagga soon discovers his father’s existence was far from normal, even as the hope to find him drives him forward at all costs.

Next, my Mind:

Well, there’s definitely no denying that writer/director/co-producer Anurag Basu’s long-awaited film, delayed often by its two lead star’s very public and rather messy break-up, is an exercise in both frustration and elation, which seems to be the trend with so many of Bollywood’s offerings this year so far. With its decidedly unconventional and highly quirky approach that almost turns the film into a full-blown musical paired with an overall narrative that gets a bit tedious in how it drags out, it felt for this reviewer that the wait we had to finally see this released wasn’t quite worth it. I don’t mind the film’s idiosyncratic execution as a whole, but for the general stylings of comedic adventure it was attempting to convey, it takes a bit too long to get its legs under it, and causes some overall disconnect with the story after one starts feeling the film’s 162-minute runtime, which personally I still feel is far too lengthy for a comedy. Plus, the way the action, comedy, and even dramatic tones are intermixed felt a little convoluted, never really feeling connected emotionally to any of it.

Now, this all said, the cleverness and well-presented musical/dance numbers here are magical, thanks especially to both Kapoor and Kaif, who are very adept at enacting these two playfully wayward yet focused characters well, accentuating their individual quirks while managing to seem feasibly uncertain with how they feel about each other along the way, funny enough perhaps echoing the strains they were both experiencing in their real life relationship at the time of filming. Kapoor’s Jagga is a humorous but grounded chap who’s only looking to locate and reconnect with his long lost father figure whom he misses terribly.  His unorthodox detective skills and other tricks learned from his beloved TutiFuti are brought to bear to entertaining effect. Kaif’s journalist Shruti is more straight-laced overall and centered on brining about the truth involving an international smuggling ring and its leader who impacted her life drastically. The character’s innate clumsiness, echoing TutiFuti’s own tendencies, should be both hilarious and heartfelt, yet for me anyway, it didn’t hit me like I thought it would, and actually became a little tiresome, which is sad, because I absolutely adore Kaif.

Chatterjee as Jagga’s guardian/father Bagchi is light-hearted and fun, though there’s some dramatic gravitas added in as we get to know the character more, and his love for his son is genuine and endearing. Shukla as the smarmy investigator in league with the arms dealers while also trying to pull off his own agendas is quite engaging as well, actually providing at times some of the film’s character-based high points. Smith does fine in his brief appearances as said arms smuggler, and a fantastic cameo from the one and only Nawazuddin Siddiqui does put a wonderful exclamation point on proceedings.  In total, with its breezy musical numbers really being the primary high point, “Jagga Jasoos” didn’t strike this reviewer nearly as much as expected, despite the acting pedigree of Kapoor and Kaif. They’ve both done far better work, but I will applaud this film’s bravery to deliver something totally outside the box, which is a facet of filmmaking this world could certainly use more of.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!


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