Cast: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Irrfan Khan, Shabana Azmi
Director: Sanjay Gupta
Director Sanjay Gupta has successfully adapted foreign films in the past, and he has done it again. Jazbaa, a remake of Korean film Seven Days, gives wings to his imagination and he dreams the Maximum City in saturated colours. Sometimes it makes you feel caged inside a video game, but mostly it reminds the audience of Gupta’s earlier films where wearing shades even in the darkest of the places was an integral part of the actor’s swag. Leather jackets, black clothes, sunglasses and screeching tyres are our tools to look ‘international’ and Jazbaa has these things in abundance.
The film begins when a top-notch lawyer Anuradha Verma (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) goes to compete in a parent-child race in her daughter Shanaya’s (Sara Arjun) school. Very soon, Anuradha finds out that Shanaya has been kidnapped because somebody wants her to fight a rape case and ensure that the prime accused Miyaaz (Chandan Roy Sanyal) goes scot-free. Morally ambiguous cop Yohan (Irrfan) is Anuradha’s ally in the ensuing pursuit, but they have not yet estimated the might of their opponent. Who wins the court battle and the cat-and-mouse game in general forms the rest of the story.
The moment Sameer Arya’s amazing long shots of the Queen’s Necklace open the film, you understand the size of the canvas on which Jazbaa has been planned. Recently, Bombay Velvet showed Mumbai in all its glory, and Jazbaa has upped the ante. The city plays the perfect foil to a story that celebrates the independence and individuality of its characters. It’s just that this makes them looking down the barrel. These characters are unique, but they’re also unexpectedly vulnerable.
Watch: Aishwarya, Irrfan make Jazbaa a good thriller
When we see Anuradha Verma working out on the sea shore, we get the glimpse of a strong woman. Soon, we are introduced to her world of rapists, murderers and hardcore criminals, and then the idea of her weak position among the wolves creeps inside our minds. However, she is sharp-tongued and knows how to counter the sinister males around, but this could just well be a disguise. Beneath her tough exterior lies a doting single mother who is still not at peace with the outside world. Interestingly, this doesn’t stop her from taking false cases and getting some hardened criminals acquitted. The potential of this role makes Advocate Verma a good choice for Rai’s comeback to screen after five years (Guzaarish, 2010).
On the other hand, Irrfan as a tough-talking cop tries every bit to present himself as the quintessential Bollywood hero who has a punch-line for every occasion. He comes on the screen with, ‘Toh kya Singham ban ke ghumoon,’ on being questioned about his Amitabh Bachchan looks. He talks to himself in the mirror like an eccentric guy, and describes his home as, ‘Main kahan rehta hoon, yahan intzar rehta hai.’ At one point, he also says, ‘Hollywood ki filmein zyada dekhta hai kya, ye Bollywood hai.’ His idea of a Mumbai inspector is equivalent to those supercops who know how to break every barricade set up by the wrong-doers. His great acting prowess saves him from looking like Ethan Hunt walking on the Mumbai roads. Otherwise his characterisation has been done with sole purpose in mind: Let’s make Yohan the new Dabangg. Still, Irrfan is the most entertaining thing about Jazbaa which has a somewhat confusing title.
Irrfan is at his best in the song ‘Jane tere shehar ka kya irrada hai’. The actor is absolutely matchless here, and without having to spout any dialogue. The point I am trying to make here is that ‘do we really need so many punch-lines to drive home the point?’
Arya’s hand-held camera, in collaboration with Gupta’s sleek planning of courtroom scenes, gives the viewers the most poignant scenes of Jazbaa. It’s also a battle between Garima (Shabana Azmi) and Anuradha Verma and it’s difficult to predict the winner.
The most striking thing about Gupta’s film is the over-dramatization of scenes which stops the viewers from getting involved in the film. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a well paced thriller, but primary characters’ penchant for invoking whistles dilutes the thrill to some extent.
Jazbaa is a film which thrives on style and Gupta knows how to present a thriller. Aishwarya Rai and Irrfan will take you to a new territory and then keep you there for most of its 130-minute duration. Jazbaa is a good watch this weekend.
(Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/ @nawabjha)