JAGGA JASOOS (2017)

Very Recently, I was reading Herge’s “Tintin and Prisoners of the Sun”. The story was a culmination to a previous comics by Herge called “Tintin and the Seven Crystal Balls”. As a kid, I loved this comic and I read it and re-read it for god knows how many times. What I loved about the books was the manner in which the characters and the action literally leaped out of the pages. Reading “Tintin and Prisoners of the Sun” recently I had the very same feeling again.

Jagga Jasoos is in literary terms a film that resembles the mood and feel of a Tintin comics and at many junctures replicates the key elements that made The Tintin comics popular the world over. Couple that with some scintillating visual beauty and a protagonist who charms you with his simplicity and intelligence and you have a winner at hands.

Jagga (Ranbir Kapoor) is an orphan raised by someone he knows only as Tutti Futti (A brilliant Saswata Chatterjee ). However, Jagga’s parental bliss soon ends when Tutti Futti has to leave abruptly. However, he makes it point to send Jagga a Video Cassette every year on his birthday. Through these videos, he not only wishes him but imparts key life lessons that shape Jagga’s life into adulthood.

Jagga grows up to be an inquisitive and intelligent albeit stuttering hobbyist detective who helps solve some key cases. It is during one of these cases that he meets Shruti (Katrina Kaif) and forges a genuine friendship with her. When the yearly Video Cassette suddenly stops coming one year, Jagga with the help of Shruti sets out to find his father and untangle a global conspiracy.

Jagga Jasoos is a musical but it is intriguing as hell. For a film that is 161 minutes long, it isn’t easy to keep the story flowing in a manner that this film is able to and for that, we have to give due credit to the director. The pacing is just right. This is a film that is more of a fairytale than anything else and it is mighty good at that. I personally hate musicals but in this film, I was so engrossed in the narrative that I took the songs to be dialogs and they held on to my attention.

The film has not one, not two but three mysteries that Jagga solves throughout the film. Each of these mysteries has its own charm and I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by them. The director must have realized how far-fetched the stories might have been and hence made this into a musical which automatically made us put our believability to rest and enjoy the film wholeheartedly for what it is.

The three mysteries are meaty and keep you guessing which was an absolute must for the film to work. If the Jassosi was missing from Jagga Jasoos, it would fall flat on its face right? The screenplay is a relentless assemblage of ravishing set pieces that involves action, chases and genuine detective work. As Jagga moves through the narrative he lands up in one frying pan after the other scene after scene after scene much like Tintin and his associate Captain Haddock in the Herge comics.

Each of the three mysteries takes place on different demographics leading to a larger palate of visuals which, as I mentioned before, is one of the forte’ of this film. The camerawork is spellbinding. There are integrations of CGI here and there and you know it but still, the visuals and the lush colors of the film fill your eyes with a sense of grandeur and sublime beauty.

I recently taught myself color correction using a very simplistic software called “wondershare movie editor”. This software lets me correct brightness, contract, and hue/saturation for my videos. Toggling between just these three functionalities has given me a hard time. Hence I can appreciate the hard work that has gone into color grading this film which in my eyes looked dripping wet with digital finesse. And before I forget, the film also has a supervillain and you will be surprised to know who it is. I won’t spoil it for you here. It’s best that you watch the film to find out who.

Ranbir Kapoor is brilliant as Jagga. He is the perfect match for the role and he is as uproariously funny as he is subtly dramatic. He looks the part and his physicality and dance moves will make you go all ga-ga for the man. He has this ability to transfix your attention on himself and uses that to the fullest here. He shares a very easy and genuine camaraderie with Katrina who does well for herself. I never took her to be much of an actress but here she plays a la Captain Haddock character with a lot of heart. She is clumsy and keeps falling and hitting stuff here and there bringing back memories from the comics. She also has a personal tragedy to deal with which brings some interesting nuances to her character and her dynamics with Jagga. Sadly this part is somewhat ignored hastily to get back to the action.

Saswata Chatterjee is a great actor and here he is a revelation. The scenes that he shares with the young version of Jagga are brimming with energy and love. He keeps popping up here and there and every time he comes on screen it’s a delight. Saurabh Shukla is a regular in Anurag Basu films and here too he is exactly as good as he was a zillion time before. He gets to play a negative character this time and he does well in being the bad guy that Jagga has to contend with.

On the flip side, the film’s length might be a minor issue as, towards the end, I was beginning to get a tiny bit restless. That fact that most of the dialog in the film is through song and audiences may not go down too well with a chunk of the audiences. They might judge the film before they see it and that will be a tragedy. I hate musicals. This is only the second musical that I actually sat through and I can safely say that it’s superbly executed. The graphics falter at a few junctures and that shouldn’t have been for a film that has taken this long to be made.

Jagga Jasoos is a difficult film to make. In a country that is so ruled by stereotypes, its really courageous to even envision a musical like this. The good news is Jagga Jasoos is an enthralling and engrossing watch that demands to be seen at least once. It is easily one of the rare hatke films coming out of Bollywood. In the future when parallels with other Hollywood films and comics are drawn by the all-knowing social media, it will  still not lose its appeal to me. As was the case with Barfi! Which I loved, Jagga Jasoos will be a cherished and enjoyable watch at any time.

Rating: 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)             

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