10 October, Japan, USA NEWS CORP
Cast: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Irrfan Khan, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Shabana Azmi, Atul Kulkarni, Jackie Shroff, Siddhant Kapoor
Direction: Sanjay Gupta
The first half of the film is mostly the setting up – a prominent criminal lawyer’s daughter gets abducted and the kidnappers blackmail her to defend a criminal convicted of raping and brutally murdering a young girl. My first question - Why exactly are we kidnapping an innocent child? A brief introduction to lawyer Anuradha Verma (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) has already shown that she has no qualms about defending the guilty because they are the only ones who can afford her big fees. In fact, she is hardly reluctant about manipulating the available evidence – as proven in a previous extortion case.
As usual, Gupta’s film is big on style – tight close-ups, low-angle shots and an all-encompassing green hue. Our director obviously has spent more time thinking about the style elements than in actually trying to fit the pieces of this thriller in a more convincing manner. The dialogues in most places are completely filmy and cringe-worthy.
I feel worse for Irrfan who is saddled with very shoddy dialogues. It’s as if someone has severed the edge of his performance in this one. And that’s a shame because he was in such top form only last week (in ‘Talvar’) playing a very similar role.
Post interval ‘Jazbaa’ becomes immensely watchable as the investigation proceeds and you try to wrap your mind around the various findings of the seemingly open-and-shut case.
Our friendly neighbourhood police officer, Yohan (Irrfan Khan), is Verma’s former classmate and still nurses a soft corner for her. He has the entire police force doing his bidding, even though he has been suspended on a corruption charge and is out on bail.
These are just some of the minor cinematic liberties that Sanjay Gupta has taken.
Another instance – when the kidnappers ask her to get the police off her tail, she drives into a police checkpoint, thus, quite obviously attracting more attention and a convoy of police cars end up chasing her. So while our beautiful lawyer might be quite persuasive in court, the size of her brain is that of a peanut.
Shabana Azmi is the star of this one. She pitches a perfect performance blending the layers seamlessly and making your jaw drop with the reveal.
It was not as if she had refused to defend the rapist, that we were now resorting to pressure tactics. It is this and other implausible situations that make the build-up seem tepid and weak. For example – when a mother suddenly realizes that her daughter is missing from a school event, won’t you ask the teachers or the guards or question the school’s safety measures in place? Instead, she stands in the middle of the field screaming ‘Sanaya, Sanaya…’ as if that will help the situation.
Aishwarya is back on the big screen after five years and unfortunately she has learned very little acting during her brief hiatus. Her bloodshot eyes and intermittent screaming bouts bring little credibility to her role. She is always ramp ready, but is yet to wow the audience with her acting ability.
So what is it that makes this film watchable?
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