Adventures of Jojo movie review: Raj Chakraborty’s film is visually grand but lacks a coherent storyline

Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

Jan 14, 2019 10:44:17 IST

2/5

One thing has to be said – when it comes to special effects, Bengali films have made progress in leaps and bounds. The average Bengali film now looks really glossed up, thanks to great cinematography, advanced visual effects and a great imagination on the part of the filmmaker. But a film is much more than a string of good visuals, isn’t it? What good is a collection of scenes if they don’t tell an engaging, coherent and believable story that you are willing to invest in? Director Raj Chakraborty’s film Adventures of Jojo suffers from exactly that ailment. It tells a story beautifully. But it doesn’t tell a beautiful story.

Adventures of Jojo promo poster. Image via Twitter

Adventures of Jojo promo poster. Image via Twitter

When his parents have to stay away from home on a medical emergency, young Jojo goes to live on his uncle’s picturesque tea estate, which is skirted by a forest, one in which elephants, deer, rhinos and tigers roam around freely. Jojo soon meets and befriends Shibu – the son of a local mahout – and his elephant Noni. Even before Jojo could relish the beautiful sights and sounds of the forest, he stumbles upon a tiger carcass in the jungle, and learns that it is the heinous outcome of a poaching incident. Determined to bring the poachers to the book, and stopping them from getting to their prize kill, a mythical tiger named Chengiz, Jojo and Shibu infiltrate the poachers’ camp and find themselves in big trouble.

While Chakraborty and team manage to maintain the sense of looming danger throughout the film, and although the film does cater to children to some extent, it never quite gets to the point where we are wowed by it. Everything looks trivial, the characters are mere caricatures, you never get a chance to go on an adventure with the storyline and there are way too many forced scenes which had no reason whatsoever to be where they are. A lot of emphasis is laid on holistic learning, and a set of geeky twin cousins and an overbearing aunt are used to drive home the message that there is a world outside textbooks as well. It is an important message – no doubt – but the way it is delivered is neither effective nor aesthetically efficient. A similar problem ails the message of forest and wildlife conservation. Someone once said – we must not only strive to leave a better planet for our children, we must also strive to leave better children for our planet. The importance of sensitising young minds to the need of protecting our flora and fauna cannot be undermined, especially when those minds are at an impressionable stage. My problem lies, once again, with the way – the frequency, in particular – in which that message is delivered in the film. It is simply not effective enough.

Add to this the fact that the children are shown to do a bit too much for their age. So, two 10-12 year old boys are literally beating seasoned (and heavily armed) goons black and blue or taking them out on a merry chase through the woods – all a little difficult to believe. We know it’s a children’s film, but that doesn’t mean it has to be frivolous. To put it in simple words, there is no simplicity in the film.

Among the performances, Rudranil Ghosh tends to take it several notches above what is necessary, which is tragically unbecoming of the wonderful actor he is. His words, actions, gestures are all amplified, and although it is a film about wildlife, that hyena-like laughter of his could have been avoided. Jashojeet Banerjee and Samiul Alam are not impressive either, as Jojo and Shibu, respectively, and I have a feeling that’s more to do with the script than with the performances per se. Jashojeet, in particular, has an inherent likability in his appearance, and I am one hundred percent sure that in the hands of a better director, he will surpass all our expectations and give us a performance we will remember. I will eagerly wait to see more of him in the times to come.

The only moment that I really enjoyed in the film is the climax in which Chengiz appears before the poachers. Beautifully shot, and admirably created with the help of CGI, the majestic animal is a treat to watch, not to mention that the scene is ably supported by a fantastic sound design and a suitable background score. I marvelled at every moment of the few seconds that the beautiful animal remained on screen. And then, with absolute disregard to economy, and in a somewhat Tintin-in-Tibet style dropscene, the director ruins the effect by having Chengiz appear on a hillock by the side of a highway, only to shed tears and bid adieu to Jojo as he returns to the city. Why, Raj Chakraborty, why? You needed a single on the last ball, why try and hit a sixer and get caught in the gully?

Updated Date: Jan 14, 2019 10:44:17 IST