Ranbir Kapoor's Jagga Jasoos can prove to be Disney India's Happily Ever After: Here's why
Once upon a time... and they lived happily ever after.
Almost every traditional Bollywood potboiler qualifies for this template made popular globally by Walt Disney films.
While the syntax remain the same, the tragic undertones of Hindi cinema compel the viewers to make clear distinction between Hindi cinema and Disney films. The feel-good factor, which drives the Disney films, is never labelled as an essential ingredient in the viewing experience of Hindi cinema.
When Walt Disney made inroads into India with Jugal Hansraj's animated film Roadside Romeo, film experts foresaw it as the introduction of a globally successful genre to an audience that had been force-fed tangier doses over the years.
But the failure of the film at the box office spelled the doom of the feel-good genre even before it got a fair chance at proving its potential.
Habib Faisal's family drama Do Dooni Chaar put Walt Disney India back on the map as Disney learnt that the only way it could fare well in India was by producing fresh content in local flavours.
While it continued to push out its signature brand of cinema with Satyajit Bhatkal's 2011 superhero film Zokkomon and Arnab Chaudhuri's 2012 animated film Arjun: The Warrior Prince, it never struck a chord with the Indian audience until Shashanka Ghosh's 2014 film Khoobsurat.
Khoobsurat was touted as a remake of Hrishikesh Mukherjee's 1980 film Khoobsurat but it was painted in trademark Disney colours. It was a typical rags to riches princess story of a Disney female protagonist, played by Sonam Kapoor, who end up becoming the love interest of Fawad Khan, who plays a prince in the film.
Walt Disney India continued to score brownie points with Remo D'Souza's 2015 musical ensemble ABCD 2 and Nitesh Tiwari's sports biopic Dangal, reports of Disney closing its India operations started dominating newspaper headlines.
While a global representative of Walt Disney Pictures has denied that the studio has completely packed operations in India, Anurag Basu's action comedy adventure Jagga Jasoos is all set to be the final product of the first innings of the studio.
Though the film has seen countless delays, its success could prove to be a game changer for Disney in India as there are multiple elements that suggest that it is a typical Disney film. Even the lead actor and co-producer, Ranbir Kapoor admitted in a Firstpost exclusive, that the film follows the Disney prototype.
"Jagga Jasoos is a representative of the Disney genre of cinema. It is in many ways similar to Disney films like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The Jungle Book," says Kapoor, who even turned producer in order to help the film materialise.
Firstpost looks at some of the ingredients that make Jagga Jasoos the recipe of an ideal Disney offering.
Disney products like Frozen, The Lion King, Brave and Inside Out are best known for conveying deeply humane ideas through animated characters that would otherwise come across as rather synthetic. These characters were infused with life through not only action but also emotions.
In the exclusive interview to Firstpost, Ranbir admitted that Jagga Jasoos has the same feel-good factor in abundance, that Basu's last film, Barfi, only flirted with.
Musical with a purpose
Their styles may be different but commercial Hindi films and multiple Disney films are popular for breaking into song and dance sequences at the drop of a hat. While songs are an integral part of every other Bollywood film, Jagga Jasoos takes it several notches higher.
Music composer Pritam has churned out 29 songs for the film, and in a refreshing departure from the majority of Bollywood films, all these songs are likely to be situational.
Ranbir's character in the film stammers so he finds it easier to sing, as a medium of expression. Therefore, though there are only seven or eight full songs in the film, all the other songs are peppered all over the narrative to give voice to the protagonist's feelings.
Jagga Jasoos, like a signature Disney film, is a musical with a purpose.
Whether it is Finding Nemo or The Jungle Book, every protagonist is up to something. Similarly, Jagga Jasoos revolves around the central character who embarks on a mission to find his father.
The path, as is the custom, is obstructed by hurdles like chasing cops, natural and man-made calamities. This graph, characterised by constant inflexions, is the signature curve of Disney films.
Animals in abundance
Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book and Lion King - All these Disney classics are marked by an ensemble cast of animals - some friendly while the others smell trouble. Similarly, the canvas of Jagga Jasoos is also full of appearances by exotic animals like elephants and ostriches. While they may clearly come across as CIG projections, the fact that they have been incorporated into the narrative speaks volumes of Basu's attempt to project it as a run-of-the-mill Disney film.
Children as primary target group
In an era where there is a lot of debate around films getting adult certification, there comes a Jagga Jasoos custom-made for audience below the age of 18. It is a film that caters to children without explicitly stating that 'Every Child is Special.' In other words, it is not an issue-driven film. It is merely a film made to entertain children. But the challenge lies in reaching out to all demographics like a good Disney film manages to do. Whether Jagga Jasoos will appeal to an audience across all ages remains to be seen.
Jagga Jasoos also stars Sayani Gupta, Evelyn Sharma and Saswata Chatterjee. It is co-produced by Walt Disney India, Ranbir's Picture Shuru Productions and Basu's Ishana Movies. It is slated to release this Friday on 14 July.