Starring: Irrfan Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Shabana Azmi, Atul Kulkarni, Jackie Shroff
Directed by Sanjay Gupta
South Korean cinema should be protesting. In his obsession with remaking Korean films in Hindi, Sanjay Gupta continues to make a hash of them, although this time he does it officially. What stands out in Jazbaa (original, Seven Days) is all that’s wrong with it: the needless stylistic gimmickry (aerial shots of car chases with deja vu written all over them; they seem to occur in the same areas in Mumbai) an all-round loudness, a terrible colour palette dominated by icky yellows and greens and a perennially overcast, orange sky. What Gupta doesn’t realise is that all this feels like a terribly fake attempt at creating moodiness rather than being organic to the film.
Aishwarya plays a supermom-cum-bigshot lawyer, Anu, who always seems to be driving when she is not arguing in the courtroom. Her daughter, Sanaya, gets kidnapped by a stranger. The ransom is unique—Anu has to defend a criminal accused of rape and murder. Her friend and confidant is a corrupt, suspended cop, Yohan (Irrfan), who nurses a strong, one-sided affection for her. The relationship had the potential to crackle but it fizzles out even before any sparks can fly. Irrfan, who had been wonderfully romantic with Konkana Sen in Life in a Metro and more recently with Deepika Padukone in Piku, just isn’t able to share that inherent chemistry with Aishwarya. He does seem to try hard, but then it takes two to tango.
Somewhere along the way the film forgets what it was meant to be—is it about a kidnapping or a whodunit or plain courtroom drama? Gupta tries to give a contemporary spin to the film by debating on rape, little realising that he seems to be getting all his metaphors rather badly mixed, that too while keeping the female protagonists, Shabana (mother of the dead girl) and Aishwarya, at the centre of the debate. Instead of looking at the moral ambiguities and dilemmas, Gupta goes into a recreation of rape itself that is so pointless. The statistics at the end or even the girl-child discourse feel just like the film’s play at moodiness—absolutely fake.
Gupta has a stellar cast, but loses out on this advantage with his slipshod direction. In the name of acting, he makes someone as stately as Aishwarya make some unbecoming faces. He makes her shout out loud, with the mouth so wide open that you can even spot her tonsils. This is not what powerful, hard-hitting, realistic performances are all about. These are just facial contortions that look indecorous. Irrfan is overused too. No doubt, he wears the wry, laidback humour attractively but to overload him with literally all the punchlines of the script feels a bit too laboured, lopsided and disproportionate. The shilajit joke especially falls flat. Chandan Roy Sanyal is another fine actor here who seems trapped in the unhinged villain slot post Kaminey. Someone rescue him out of it fast.