14 Jul 2017

Jagga Jasoos: What Brings Down a Potential Masterpiece?

Make no mistake Jagga Jasoos is a rare achievement, combining age-old human emotions with an intriguing real-life arms drop incident. But there are several stumbles to what could have been a more structured masterpiece.

The Duration Issue 
The film doesn't actually drag but stretches out into a series of comic action gags, without contributing to the story. Three hours of running time, too much for a whirlwind, round-the-world non-stop romp. Easier said than done, for Basu paints a huge canvas here, combining a children's stage musical, travel adventure and the sore weak links - thrills, suspense, and action.

Many Loose Ends 
By the looks of it, the three-year torrid filmmaking period of the movie has its effects on the story. A lot of it stands out half-baked and propped up as gimmicks. For instance, the stumbling similarities that Shruti and Jagga's father share has no explanation. Jagga and Shruti escaping bullets, blasts and entire packs of gun-wielding baddies, there is just too much of it, for disbelief and disconnect to set in.

Wanted: Merciless, Clever Editing
Sharper, merciless editing would have worked wonders here. With so many elements and subplots and genres served on a platter, the film needed a master editor to take over proceedings.A two-hour running time would have worked wonders. The movie needed sweet slices of everything. An epic saga like the Lord of the Rings trilogy justifies the marathon length, not an ambitious comic caper like Jagga Jasoos.

A Dizzy Mix of Genres   
Even in Basu's Barfi (2012), the murder mystery angle off-tracked the film, before if found sure-footing again. There is no such salvaging in Jagga Jasoos. On hindsight, just narrating episodic adventures of Jagga's detective tales as the core story could have worked for the film's comic/mystery genre. Instead, the film is a wild mix comic musical adventure thriller, a tightrope walk in storytelling. The most glaring casualty: The two-headed international rogue and his supposedly dreaded syndicate are skimmed through rather than explained. So is the Pope air-dropping gifts angle, what was that about?

Ambition Versus Balance   
Truth be told, Anurag Basu almost pulls this through, his effort has nothing short in inventiveness, imagination, and spunk. It is in bringing all the madness together into a cohesiveness that most of the damage is done.

That said... 
Jagga Jasoos may seem more enjoyable in subsequent viewings. Often, a new take takes its time to settle down in a cinema-goers consciousness. We are so used to the usual, linear pattern in popular Hindi cinema. Anything out of line is so often rejected at first. So will Jagga Jasoos find its following in its theatrical run or later? This is a tough one for even the most hardened detective.


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