Saturday, October 10, 2015


Two Actors & A Star

It was a good idea to cast actors like Shabana Azmi and Irrfan to support Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, but it backfired in a way. Because these two are such marvellous actors that they can convey more emotion with the twitch of an eyebrow than the leading lady of Sanjay Gupta’s Jazbaa can with all her screeching, wailing and eye-popping.  It’s admirable that she tried to something different for her comeback film, but just laid bare her shortcoming as an actress.

It’s a vanity project for her—look at the opening sequence of her exercising in the open, in Mumbai, with not a soul in sight, and you can guess just how the rest of the film will go. Short of sounding bugles every time she appears on screen, the film does everything to highlight her stardom.

Jazbaa is the remake of a Korean film Seven Days (now filmmakers have to declare their sources and buy rights; in the past they simply stole!)in which a lawyer has to defend a rapist-killer, because the kidnapper of her daughter demands that.

Not that Anuradha Verma (Rai Bachchan) has any scruples, she defends criminals who can afford her and shows her disdain for them by refusing to shake their hand. So when the voice on the phone orders her about, she complies for the sake of her child, Sanaya (Sara Arjun)But, of course, for the dirty work of investigating criminals in the shady hellholes of Mumbai, she needs a man.  Yohan (Irrfan) is a disgraced cop, who was her college mate and still holds the torch for her. He has been suspended for corruption, so has all the time in the world to help Anuradha, punctuating his rough copspeak with pseudo-poetic lines like,  Neend mashooqa ki tarah hota hai. Waqt na do to rooth ke chali jaati ha.

Shabana Azmi plays the dignified mother of the girl killed by Niyaz (Chandan Roy Sanyal), who demonstrates his psycho-ness with high-pitched cackles. Because Azmi is in the film, there are politically correct statements about the evil of victim-shaming in cases of rape.

There are red herrings, needless contrivances, flashbacks from different angles, uneven pacing and strange colours. As Irrfan tells a man he is bashing, “Yeh Bollywood hai.”  And subtlety is just not Bollywood’s style.


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