Direction: Samar Shaikh
Actors: Vidya Balan, Ali Fazal, Kiran Kumar, Rajendra Gupta
Bobby Jasoos was never about creating an Indian version of Sherlock Holmes or James Bond. The fictional detective Karamchand played by Pankaj Kapur in the ’80s may, in fact, be responsible for a childhood fixation; the sort most kids get over, but one that Bobby (Vidya Balan) — or Bilkis Bano, held on to.
The fixation, however, has a larger purpose, for Bobby must prove her independence and her worth in a conservative family where the men earn and provide and the women stay home and look to get married. That is why, with no training, little education, and in defiance of a vehemently discouraging father (“My house will not run on women’s incomes,” he says), Bobby holds on to her dream of becoming a jasoos.
She has little going for her in terms of work experience or capital. But things change when a mysterious rich man (Anees Khan, played by Kiran Kumar) seeks her out and offers her a case. Bobby has wit, and more gutsiness than all the male characters put together. But her approach is more hit-and-miss than clinical, and she stumbles and goofs up on occasion. This only serves to make the amateur detective more credible.
Balan has done such films in the past and deserves credit for pulling it off again. The overall story remains simplistic. But it serves its purpose — of shining a light on a community that is underrepresented in Bollywood films, and extracting a positive story of hope. And, of course, of showcasing Vidya Balan.