Jazbaa Movie Review


It is but natural for a Bollywood diva making a comeback to go hell for leather.

Likewise, a consummate actor taking each scene as it comes, with customary poise, is par for the course.

Together, however, they make Jazbaa, another flashy but torpid remake of a Korean thriller from Sanjay Gupta, a rather disorienting affair.

As Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Irrfan Khan peddle their distinct wares, it is like watching two different films at the same time.

One features an overcharged female lead who stretches every sinew, flashes bloodshot eyes, flails her arms, and raises her voice at the slightest provocation.

Her job is to capture the anguished persona of a hotshot lawyer who is compelled to defend a rapist in order to save her kidnapped daughter. The actress takes no chances.

The portions of Jazbaa that are designed for Aishwarya border on the overly zestful and melodramatic. These stretches of the film will of course work for some sections of the audience.

Passages of a far less demonstrative kind are delivered by Irrfan. He resorts to measured moves in playing a much-decorated but suspended Mumbai policeman.

Neither the two actors nor the characters that they play have anything in common but for the fact that both have clear goals, both on duty and off it.

They join forces in a race against time to get to the bottom of the conspiracy hatched against the advocate, Anuradha Verma.

It is Inspector Yohaan’s one chance to prove that he has lost none of his wiles.
The discredited crime-buster also has secret crush on the lady, who he has known since their school days.

Bunty Nagi’s editing is crisp and Sameer Arya’s camerawork is impressively nifty. Both complement the pace of the story.

Yet, Jazbaa is never particularly pulsating despite being occasionally intriguing.

It springs a few surprises, especially in the climax, but its principal characters, the legal eagle and the cop, respond in largely predictable ways to the threats posed by the flawed system that they work within.

Within the folds of the narrative are drug dealers and addicts, an ambitious politician with a dark secret in his backyard, and vulnerable women who suffer at the hands of sexual predators.

But Jazbaa, despite the disturbing rape statistics and low conviction rates that it reminds us of before the end credits roll, isn’t really about the big picture.

Its focus is squarely on the story of an individual striking back when she is pushed to a corner.

The dialogue written by Kamlesh Pandey is lively and witty at times, but the punchlines, reserved mainly for the cynical policeman, do not propel the film out of its inertia.

One guy asks the off-duty cop to back off when the latter goes after him. “I know my rights,” the suspect says.

The tainted policeman sniggers at him: “India mein rights? Hollywood filmein bahut dekhta hai. Yeh Bollywood hai.”

Jazbaa throws up a few such stray moments that allude to the grave distortions in India’s legal system, but the script (Sanjay Gupta and Robin Bhatt) does not follow this narrative line consistently enough.

It might have raised Jazbaa above the level of a straightforward thriller.
Earlier in the film, the audience is provided a glimpse into the mind of the female protagonist.

Asked why she works only for the moneyed and the crooked, she replies: “Joh beqasoor hai woh mera fees afford nahin kar sakte(Those that are innocent cannot afford my fees).”

Jazbaa works only sporadically. The fact that Seven Days, the film that Jazbaa is ripped off from, was no cinematic gem does not help.

The laboured contrivances of the original inevitably find their way into the Hindi rehash. Only, they are exaggerated beyond reasonable limits.

Jazbaa loses no opportunity to play up the mother angle. Aishwarya’s divorced character reminds the criminal she defends under duress that she is in the game as a mom, not just as an advocate.

She isn’t the only mother in the plot. Shabana Azmi plays estranged mom to a free-spirited, headstrong artist-daughter who is raped and murdered by the convict who is days away from the gallows.

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