'Jagga Jasoos': Unbelievable... And not in a good way

Film: "Jagga Jasoos"; Director: Anurag Basu; Cast: Ranbir Kapoor,  Katrina Kaif, Saswat Chatterjee, Saurabh Shukla, Rating:** (2 stars)

Finally,  it is herea The film everyone waited to see for three years. Watching  it in a theatre with 20-25 percent occupancy is a huge shock. Dammit,  this is Anurag Basu's Disney fantasy-adventure. Our own Harry  Potter-meets-Tin Tin-meets-Barfi. And didn't Ranbir and Basu create the  magical in "Barfi" not so long ago ?

As expected, "Jagga Jasoos"  wears a huge "Barfi" hangover. It will also remind you of the cinematic  styles of several storytelling legends from Satyajit Ray to Tim Burton.  But finally this is a world that only Anurag Basu inhabits and  comprehends. I am not too sure if that's reason to rejoice. We can only  partake of the goodies from the outside, like curious tourists peering  into an exotic country from a cruising.

The storytelling devices  in "Jagga Jasoos" deliberately distance us from the bizarre goings on.  The plot is a one-liner stretched vast acres of exposition and  posturing. A lot of the lengthy playing time is taken up by Ranbir's  Jagga on the run with 'journalist' Shruti. As played by Katrina Kaif.  Shruti is a bit of a sloppy busybody. And naturally, like most of  Ranbir's most memorable heroines, she is in love with someone else.

As  you can see, I am trying desperately to find a plot in a film that is  eager to lose it. The plot, I mean. The basic story of an orphan in the  northeast looking for his foster-father (Saswat Chatterjee, brilliantly  expressive) is lost in reams of dreams woven around the theme of a  picaresque adventure in the African jungles populated with endearing  species of the animal kingdom, with Saurabh Shukla playing a sinister  arms dealer (if you please) in hot pursuit.

It is heartbreaking  to reject a film that has so much heart in it. Saswat Chatterjee's  fatherly compulsions colour the quirky goings-on with a touch of class.  Much of Ranbir's waif-in-a-battle act is an extension of "Barfi" with  lots more selfindulgent whimsy thrown in. After a while it becomes  exhausting watching his livewire act, with Katrina trying to keep pace.

"Jagga  Jasoos" feels like a slog, but looks like a dream. Cinematographer Ravi  Varman's work is out-of-this-world. Every frame a visual feast, every  shot a painting. He shoots desolate roads and beckoning trees with an  inferred passion that is more imagined than tenable.

Having said  that, there remains a dark question hovering over this stubbornly light  and airy musical. Would the audience accept a film where every  conversation is a song? And not a very pleasant one at that. Pritam's  music is there is no polite way of saying it is annoying and awful. He  needs to understand there is a difference between cool casualness and  outright laziness.

Ranbir and Katrina seem to be braving their  way through a blizzard of conversational songs sung in some of the most  scenic locations. But instead of breezing through the epic journey, they  seem to be wheezing across what looks like a grand slog.

I love  the smell of fresh air that the film exudes. The outdoors are so  refreshing. I want to immediately takeA a holiday in the locations. But  as we all know Man (and Woman) cannot survive on fresh air alone. Ranbir  and Katrina struggle and stumble across a journey that is as painful  for them, as it is for us.

Sorry, but going by restless angry audience response, this seems to be Ranbir's own "Tubelight". Oh, I am sorry, he already has his "Tubelight". And it was called "Bombay Velvet".

So  what IS this???? I am still trying to figure it out. Beautiful to look  at, yet annoying. Gloriously epic in design yet repeatedly brought down  by its own ambitions to remain pristine and artless. Reaching for the  sky but downsized by the repeated use of distancing devices borrowed  from the stage. It's like being in a room filled with amazing sights and  sounds. You quickly want to get away to a more real world of pain and  discomfort.

Beyond a point, the beauty of the outer world begins  to seem like a mockery of those emotions that we are meant to escape in  "Jagga Jasoos".