You quickly develop a strange feeling while watching Jagga Jasoos. I say ‘strange’ because you don’t often expect Bollywood to offer you novelty and honesty. If you haven’t been able to notice the severe drought of ideas in films, you probably don’t care. Or you get a constant dose of original, fine Netflix shows. That’s why Jagga Jasoos feels like a sleek, brand new gadget with multiple attractive features. You want to unravel its layers, with a hunger that’s understandable.
Jagga Jasoos starts on a rather slow, dull note. For a good one hour, the film takes painful short strides in establishing the father-son emotional bond. The small, wonderful world of father-son is endearing. These scenes also reflect on life. For some time, the simple philosophy of their conversation takes you miles away from your own busy mind. The little Jagga stammers and thus doesn’t speak. In one delightful scene, Badal Bagchi (Saswata Chatterjee) asks Jagga to use his right mind and speak through song. In next instant, we see Jagga delightfully crooning and expressing himself. He finds a simple solution to his own problems and relishes it. You connect with his joy of finding a delightful medium to express himself. At the same time, you also question if the language makes communication more difficult.
Sometimes we tend to take life too seriously. The world of Jagga Jasoos urges you to look at life through a different prism. That’s why little Jagga’s small adventures feel life like. You know it’s not real. But at the same time, a part of you wants to believe that life is all about the sunshine. Very soon Jagga’s world is torn apart when his father deposits him in a hostel and bids farewell. Now, Jagga is a grown-up teenager (played by Ranbir Kapoor) and he is still the same curious kid, waiting to unfurl life’s little mysteries.
But it’s only after Katrina Kaif meets Ranbir Kapoor’s character, the film launches into a stratosphere of fantasy and adventure. From the moment they meet, Jagga Jasoos glides smoothly. In a scene, Ranbir and Katrina’s characters interact through an interesting mix of song and rap. This comic scene is fresh and innovative. Ranbir deftly uses his acting chops to shine, but with adequate support from Katrina. Ranbir’s brilliance is met with Katrina’s goofiness. Together, Ranbir and Katrina waltz from one stunning scene to another. Jagga Jasoos has plenty of inventive and delightful moments. There’s enough in the film that makes you marvel, sit and notice. It absorbs you completely in its world. There are quirky animals, wild lands, sun-baked fields, steam trains and goofy criminals. From beautiful landscapes of Manipur to wilderness of Africa, Jagga Jasoos offers so much visual delight.
Their adventure gets more urgency when Ranbir and Katrina are followed by Sinha ( Saurabh Shukla) who is tasked with killing both characters. But somewhere in its aim to provide viewers a visual adventure, the film forgets what it wants to say. It keeps on meandering aimlessly in its own web of smooth chaos. At times, just like the character of Jagga, the film seems helpless as it struggles hard to communicate to the audience. All that world of adventure isn’t really anchored by a story here to lend more depth to Jagga Jasoos. That makes Jagga Jasoos like a balloon, floating in the air with no aim to soar higher and no intention to land back on earth. While we float with it, we keep groping for that horizon far at distance or land beneath its surface. That’s the biggest drawback of Jagga Jasoos.
Anurag Basu’s Barfi had a heart. The film wanted to say something to its audience. Anurag Basu deftly used fanciful elements to pack an emotional punch. All that swirl of scenery and drama revolved around a central theme. Something that’s conspicuously absent from Jagga Jasoos. Both Ranbir and Katrina’s characters are devoid of emotions. Despite so much going on the screen for them, both characters fail to communicate with the audience.
Ranbir Kapoor lends a certain poignancy to scenes where he stammers. The actor holds your attention and is an absolute delight to watch. He fills the screen with his ingenuity. You marvel at the arch of his eyebrow, the slight swish of his face and so many subtle hints of expressions lingering on his face. It’s a pity that his efforts go wasted in the absence of a solid story, plot, and script. At the end, you get a shallow adventure with no heart.
But Jagga Jasoos should be applauded for being brave. It’s a genuine attempt at creating something wonderful here. And it feels novel. That’s its rare achievement. You might find it more enjoyable than compulsory mediocre blockbusters. If you are someone who hopes to find a novel idea or at least an intention to attempt something new in a film but are continually disappointed by Bollywood’s condescending treatment, Jagga Jasoos doesn’t leave you disappointed. It just leaves you a little dissatisfied. That’s about it. For it could have been so much more. But at the same time, you cherish its failure as it was built on a right foundation. Hope the film doesn’t stop Ranbir Kapoor from taking mores risks in future.