Showman and film legend Raj Kapoor is a proud man today. His grandson Ranbir Kapoor just made his foray into film production with Jagga Jasoos, a film and story that few would consider producing, and even very few as a first film. It’s experimental and inspiring with a generous dash of musical numbers, a throwback to the wonderful musicals from the 50s and 60s Hollywood and Hindi cinema.
I walked in to the movie theatre with zero expectations. The so called critics had given their verdict – some said it’s a bore, some said it’s great, while some said it is an opportunity lost. Just 5 minutes into the film, and I knew this is what cinema is. Jagga Jasoos is the film that renews my faith in Hindi films again. The last few months kept us, at Cinema Paradizo, away from reviewing a movie – nothing was exciting enough.
Coming back to Jagga Jasoos, Anurag Basu, it’s director is one of the prolific Bengali artists who are doing their bit in reviving the magic of Hindi films yet again along with Sujoy Ghosh, Dibakar Bannerji, Shoojit Sircar and others. So he can never make a bad film. However, with this one Anurag beats his own film Barfi. In Barfi, he made Ranbir mute – in Jagga Jasoos, he makes him stammer and sing. Hopefully, the next time these two come together – Ranbir will get to speak up. For now the director calls the shots.
Anurag Basu joins hands with cinematographer Ravi Varman to share some beautiful and mesmerizing frames. His camera is your way into Jagga’s world, and Basu with his finesse makes you live with Jagga every second of the film. The film opens in Darjeeling with Jagga (Ranbir Kapoor) in a school hostel – and we meet him and his wonderful ideas and loneliness. Jagga as a child stammers – hence stays mute. Then arrives Tooti Footi/Bagchi brilliantly played by Saswata Chatterjee, who turns into his father figure and from here starts Jagga’s magical life. Tooti Footi offers Jagga the biggest solutions of his life – when you can’t speak properly, sing! And here starts the musical film that takes you on a journey laced with Amitabh Bhattacharya’s deep words and lyrics and Pritam’s soulful music. Take a bow Pritamda and Amitabh.
There are the detective stories within the primary plot of Jagga finding his father Tooti Footi, and a chance encounter with Kolkata-based journalist Shruti (Katrina Kaif) takes Jagga to the other ends of the earth. In between all this drama, Basu introduces some unknown chapters from history including Burma, Netaji Subhashchandra Bose, illegal arms drop and more and more.
This is the stuff we rarely see in Indian cinema. Reminds me of how makers like Steven Speilberg and Quentin Tarantino blend historical landmark events to convey strong messages and also educate. There are so many sequences in the film that define what artistic originality is all about. Whether it is the wheel of a circus rolling though the town and falling into the river to become a boat or murder mystery with the clock that kills a girl – Jagga Jasoos is an extremely pure film and therein lies its ill fate – this kind of cinema works when the viewers are creatively capable of transporting into a world designed by an artist and a visionary with immense imagination and minute detailing. Unfortunately the Indian is are not evolved or matured enough to appreciate the beauty of what Anurag Basu and Ranbir Kapoor has created here. No wonder the makers had no clue how to market it or position it.
There are clear reference to Feluda and Shakesperean styles. Even the action sequences and chases succeed as they are structured, shot and edited so much better than our so-called action films. I was pleased to be in the company of an audience who were cheering, clapping, even anticipating what will happen. Don’t make the mistake of missing this masterpiece. It does what cinema should do – makes you laugh, cry, jump with joy, get inspired and also get educated in the process. The film ends with a strong message, as it unleashes the arms and ammunition mafia, and why this world will not be allowed be a safer place full of love. Too much is at stake, and peace is not an option!
You miss Jagga Jasoos, and you miss a critical shift in the evolution of Hindi cinema.