From the moment the first frame comes into play, you know there’s something wrong with Jagga Jasoos. It looks fine, shots are rich in color, standard Basu fare but you can’t help feeling something’s off.
When Katrina Kaif lands up on screen, the hint of the stench has all but been wiped out, replaced by an absolute stinker. You can sense it, more importantly you can get what Basu’s trying to go for, but the weight of the film’s production problems instantly becomes apparent. Her entire introductory sequence feels heavily out of place and very poorly lit.
Jagga Jasoos directed by Anurag Basu and starring Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif, tells the story of Jagga, a stammer suffering, Feluda-ish late teen/early twenties (even the film doesn’t know) fellow and his bumbling misadventures. Along for the ride are Katrina Kaif’s accident prone Shruti as well as a supporting cast of Saurabh Shukla and Saswata Chatterjee.
Jagga Jasoos is fun, but it is very heavily flawed. Basu is in prime form here, by which I mean he’s got an accordion filled orchestra swelling to the brim as he references films from the golden age of Hollywood. There are tributes to Vertigo, Modern Times, most of Wes Anderson’s line of work and more, with just a dash of Bollywood melodrama thrown in for good measure. But somewhere in the mix, Basu forgets the most crucial aspect of the film; the development of its plot. You can sense it coming towards the fag end of the second half, where a horrendously shoddy edit job almost derails the entire film completely. 3 years in production and the last twenty minutes resemble a student film hastily put together five minutes prior to it’s campus festival debut.
That’s not to say that there’s some good here. The film takes some time to kick into gear and when it does it is an absolute joy to watch. The musical like approach is fantastic and I wish the film had stuck with it more consistently throughout. At times it plays out like a dream, making for a truly beautiful spectacle. Ranbir Kapoor is terrific once again as the stammering Jagga who can only commute through song, while Katrina Kaif’s Shruti tries her best to keep up, but just doesn’t compare.
As a matter of fact, Kaif’s performance is what really ticked me off. For starters, her dubbing is woeful almost amateur hour like, with full lines of dialogue playing completely out of sync when she’s talking. It’s moments like these that really take you out of the experience. There’s also some rubbish CG that comes into play, which really makes you wonder why Basu just didn’t shoot in-camera. CG should only ever be used to accentuate the experience, not construct it from the ground up when you know your budget cannot accommodate it.
I didn’t expect to semi-rant here but god did this film piss me off at times.
When a film goes through as troublesome a production schedule, as this one did, you’re left fearing the worst. For all its faults, Jagga Jasoos is not unsalvageable. In fact, much like Kaif’s character, it trips, falls and stumbles its way through it’s running time but somehow manages to make it out okay in the end, leaving you with a big goofy grin in on your face. Jagga Jasoos is bloody fun when it’s good but it’s infuriatingly annoying when it’s bad. Make of that what you will.