Jagga Jasoos review: seeking the child within you

Anurag Basu’s fitting tribute to Ray


News - India & You

July 18, 2017

/ By / Kolkata

Saswata Chatterjee with young Jagga in a still from the film

Saswata Chatterjee with young Jagga in a still from the film

A tad mad to say the least – Anurag Basu’s Jagga Jasoos is projected as a failed attempt to celebrate the innocent madness that’s fast disappearing. You cannot enjoy the film unless there is a child still alive in you.

Stammering can make you look foolish but the twinkle in your eye that identifies the larger changes taking place in this queer place called earth is an irrefutable virtue. With utmost humility towards the verdict of the nation, I take this up not as a review but a postmortem of a society full of care that fails to find time to stand and stare.

Anurag Basu’s 161-minute film was stretched, said a review while some of the national dailies chose to rate it below 3 and the film’s box-office figures were flashed outlining it as a flop in the recent non-festive cinematic season.

In a very subtle conversation with some of my friends who have still managed to keep their hearts at the right place, we discovered the ecstasy of someone far away trying to uncover the child in us. We discovered Basu’s politics in making a film at this anthropological predicament of the Indian society.

Maybe there was a resemblance in our lunacy or what we call romanticism. We are those who don’t care about the numbers deciding the fate of a film. I mean how can the infatuated audience celebrating films of creepy Bhai-giri (read Khan-wood) and barbaric bloodshed (read Bahubali) while rejecting the phenomenal story-telling of A Death in the Gunj ever make a right verdict about a stammering Tintin-like spy who sings to express and brings a new palette of colours unseen in our diesel-smoky lives. Impossible!

So, a reviewer said that the film had everything apart from a good story, however, sometimes whether a story is good or not is dependent on the capability of the viewer to interpret it correctly, which many seem to have failed at. Nevertheless, Ranbir Kapoor, Saswata Chatterjee, Katrina Kaif, Sayani Gupta, Saurabh Shukla, Rajatava Dutta and all those who made even the smallest of appearances in this beautifully concocted musical spy-thriller outclassed the swag with which the audience carried their pop-corn filled tubs in the multiplexes. There was the difference in outlook that made it a little weary in the box-office pursuit. While there was a deliberate plan that the auteur in Basu wedged for three years, he made it persuasive with the help of Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics and Pritam’s apt tunes. It takes talent, conviction and madness that only a gifted child can have to pull off a film here in India.

A true Disney comedy – no, a spy-thriller

From the grainy frames that shows Purulia in 1995 through the lens of Badal Bagchi (Saswata Chatterjee) slowly transforming a plot where the infamous arms drop incident happened to the allegorical Buddhist circles coupling Jagga (Ranbir Kapoor) and Tuti-Footi (Saswata in disguise) – there was always an element of a fairy tale that challenged your imagination.

Anurag gave a fitting tribute to Chaplin in his last masterpiece Barfi (2012) and this time he chose his country mate Ray in almost a host of profuse poetic metaphors that only the Bongs (colloquial term for people of Bengali descent) could decipher. This might well be a reason for the gap in communication for the national audience; it is advisable to tag along with a Bengali when you go for the film.

We call it a comedy as the film allures you to laugh at the tragic dispositions of its characters. Aren’t we all seasoned to find amusement in those who are falling? The first of its kind in India, some of the well-watched reviewers called it the La La Land of Indian cinema; why, because it was a musical. I thought it was a decent rebuttal to Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman. The suave and mastery with which the allegedly too-long film painted my big screen made me long for a sequel, to say the least. Or may be a sequel would not do justice to the sheer honesty with which this film was made.

However, I would say it is more of a spy-thriller than a comedy. A stammering young man in his school looks deep inside the feeling of people and tries to read the minds of his subjects. He communicates with the world with a lyrical verbose in an otherwise isolated world. His father’s annual video tapes that arrived from various parts of the world carried all that his father had earned in his journey and with every birthday this enriched Jagga’s compassion while also enhancing his desire to crack the mysteries that came his way. A father-son relationship aptly discerned. Katrina played the perfect anchor of the show; her lack-of-expression-eyes were strategically enveloped in a pair of adorable specs. That does not take anything away from the film.

Vulnerability was the USP of the film and its childlike emotions that didn’t care the volume of seriousness a pack of the audience brings with them when they enter a theatre. The coming weeks will test the Indian audience and coax them to engage their dying adolescent caprice. Maybe the box-office will start rolling very soon. However, we are programmed to laugh at things falling; laugh more when people fall and the most when imaginations stumble.

Maybe a bit too lengthy, your childhood whims were certainly not smaller – catch Jagga Jasoos to invigorate the child in you.

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