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Designed as a comic book character and mounted as a musical, "Jagga Jasoos" with its episodic adventure tales is a fiction fantasy that is visually appealing.
The visuals in the film are striking and surreal. The lighting, textures and tone of the frames fluctuate between the darkish, atmospheric hues seen in Harry Potter films and the bright vibrant palettes seen in Disney films.
The narrative begins as an origin story, with Shruti Sengupta (Katrina Kaif) introducing the comics and the character, "Jagga Jasoos" (Ranbir Kapoor) to some kids at an event. She does so in an "interactive and informal" manner. In other words, she acts as the sutradhaar or the story teller giving out first-hand information about Jagga and his antics.
The tale encapsulated in three comic episodes reveal how Jagga, an orphan, was mentored by Badal Bagchi who he fondly called "Tutti Fruti". Badal treated Jagga like his own and it was he who advised him, "Jab seedhi baat seedhi tarah samajh na aaye, toh use ulta kar ke dekho," which simply meant, when you don't understand simple things in a simple manner, then you need to see them from the opposite spectrum. And thence began Jagga's foray into self-styled investigations.
Ranbir Kapoor as Jagga is brilliant. He lives his character on screen, which is sparkling and lively.
He is aptly supported by Katrina Kaif as the London returned journalist Shruti Sengupta, who is hunting for leads in her story on the war against global terrorism. She plays the dumb-damsel with loads of bad luck on her side, to perfection. She is effortless in her comic timing and action.
Saswata Chatterjee as Jagga's foster father Badal Bagchi, and a harbinger of "bad luck" is equally brilliant. Saurabh Shukla in a convoluted role chasing Badal is stereotypical and flat.
The plot of the film is sketchy and begins on a shaky note, but the scenes roll out seamlessly in dream-like sequences thanks to the brilliant editing by Akiv Ali and Ajay Sharma. Also, Director Anurag Basu's frame composition shows his mastery over his craft.
The music by Pritam Chakraborty adds to the flavour of the narration. The songs in the film help to take the narrative forward as well as drive home a lesson. Striking among them are, "Sab khana khake, daru peeke, chale gaye," and "Galti se mistake," which is replete with philosophy and life lessons.
The choreography by Shiamak Davar is fresh and invigorating as each song is artistically presented.
Shot across terrains in Manipur, Kolkata and South Africa, Cinematographer S. Ravi Varman's lens captured the locales in their full glory along with the animals of the region.
Overall, with a run time of two hours and forty-five minutes, there are moments when you inadvertently end up snatching forty winks. Film: Jagga Jasoos; Director: Anurag Basu; Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Saswata Chatterjee, Saurabh Shukla