Cast: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Irrfan Khan, Chandan Roy Sanyal
Director: Sanjay Gupta
Sanjay Gupta has a reputation for two things: lifting stories from international films and turning them into masala entertainers, and adding layers of overtly slick cinematography so the finished product looks cooler than the average Bollywood flick.
In Jazbaa, Gupta takes both elements to a new level, first by buying the rights to a film for a legitimate remake, and then by adding never-before-seen colours into every frame. The result, though, is less cool than you would think. The original in this case is the Korean film Seven Days (2007), and so similar is Jazbaa that one suspects a DVD was playing on a loop on the sets so that it could be perfectly replicated.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan plays Anuradha, a tough-as-nails lawyer whose daughter is kidnapped. As ransom, she is forced to negotiate the release of a prisoner named Niyaz (Chandan Roy Sanyal). The only person she can trust is a childhood friend, Yohann (Irrfan Khan), who is now a cop and coincidentally was responsible for putting Niyaz away.
Watch: Jazbaa trailer
As Anuradha and Yohann dig deeper to uncover those pulling the strings, predictable twists and turns ensue, ending in the kind of slam-bam showdown that is typical of Gupta’s climaxes. There is enough adrenaline-fuelled camerawork and flashy editing to engage bored audiences, but little artistry.
Though Jazbaa moves at a brisk pace, the treatment of the plot is completely over-the-top. The normally dependable Irrfan breaks the fourth wall a few times with wisecracks, but seems largely uninterested in the proceedings. His sleepwalking performance is all the more jarring after his stellar showing in Talwar, released last week.
Bachchan, who makes a comeback to cinema after five years, is a shadow of her former self. Any screen presence she might have summoned is drowned by her shrill screechiness — though, to be fair, that seems more a matter of poor direction.
She is not convincing either as a frantic parent or a powerful lawyer, coming off as mildly irritable, like she’d perhaps skipped her morning coffee.
By the time the end credits roll, the movie itself is already a fading memory and you’re left with just one question: Why, oh why, would Ash choose this dated mess as her comeback vehicle?