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Meet intrepid boy detective Jagga. And bumbling girl reporter Shruti. These two go sleuthing through a series of picturesque spots, when not breaking into song, dodging bad guys hot on their trail, and averting the third world war.
Okay, I made the last one up. But in the near-three hours of the run time of Jagga Jasoos, there’s everything else, with Ranbir and Katrina chasing bent spies, arms dealers, and sundry other smaller fry, while, of course, saving the world.
Given that Basu and Kapoor’s last outing was a real, honest-to-goodness film (Barfi), and having seen Kapoor’s willingness to submit to a part, Jagga Jasoos should have been a barrel of laughs.
But in its zeal to put together novel locations and exotic hot spots, Jagga Jasoos forgets to give us that crucial thing – a story. The good-looking leads are left to fend for themselves in a sinking plot, if you can call it that. What we get, with the exception of a few smiley moments, is an excruciatingly long, dull meander.
You get the feeling that somewhere along the way, in their intention to create a fun-filled, quirky ride, the filmmakers lost their way. Because all the elements that would make up a zany Tintin-esque (Jagga sports a sideways quaff, just the way Tintin does, and has a similar ability to unravel puzzles) adventure have been painstakingly gathered – impressive production values, eye-catching visuals, and a real-life event (the Purulia arms drop, which created such a sensation back in the mid-90s) to give it heft.
A solid, engaging plot would have been just the ticket for both the film and hard-working hero (the leading lady mysteriously swings both ways : in some parts she seems very much a part of the proceedings, and in others just sleep-walking through her scenes). Done right, it would have been the world’s first musical spy thriller.
There’s something endearing about the way it begins, with Jagga’s origin story. How a little boy with a speech impairment wins the heart of a good-hearted man (Chatterjee) who vanishes, and how that little boy grows into a smart young fellow whose school-going moments seem to be filled with cracking one complicated case after the another.
Except Kapoor is too old to pass off as a school-boy. That’s the first and most important thing that Jagga Jasoos gets wrong. And the bits between his purported teenage self and the pretty bumbler of a journo, who goes bumpity-bump through tough terrains, get a little questionable.
The best part of the film is between the young Jagga and Chatterjee. A couple of the spanking songs are great fun. That’s when the movie speaks in its own voice : in the rest, it is trying to be a desi Spielberg without any of his verve.
At one point in the film, a character is made to ask – “Bore ho gaye na”? The answer, of course, is – “Haan bhai haan”.