Jazbaa review: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is sincere, but needs a better director than Sanjay Gupta

Gayatri Gauri

October 09, 2015 15:00:45 IST

Writer/director Sanjay Gupta needs to give a whole box of throat lozenges to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

Apparently he is convinced and in turn has convinced the actress that that a tormented mother has to scream her guts out to show her distress over the kidnapping of her little daughter. If that’s not pathetic enough, she has to wear a semi demented look with eyes brimming with glycerine. As a final step in hardcore performance, she has to run like there is no tomorrow. Rai who makes a comeback after five years with Jazbaa, scores full marks on all three counts.

Jazbaa has great potential as a potboiler thriller dealing with the country’s most significant issue of rape. But all its focus is on how well Rai screams, cries and runs.

Jazbaa-screengrab-380

Screen grab from Jazbaa.

Next, it is about how Irrfan Khan playing a corrupt cop-Yohaan- delivers entertaining dialogues (by veteran Kamlesh Pandey) like.. “Rights? Hindustan mein rights nahin hote..”. Sometimes Khan recalls he needs to throw in some action too. So he kicks and smashes some roadside props. If the two together are not being dramatic enough, there is Shabana Azmi, playing a dead victim’s mother, at her melodramatic best.

Rai and Azmi between themselves compete with their eyes. It is difficult to decide who can stretch them more wide and tearful. Khan must have noticed this and realized he cannot win in this area of hysterics. So he quickly dons a pair of shades.

If the three dynamic actors still don’t seem serious enough, there is a message on screen as the film ends. It informs us about the rape statistics in India and how a woman is raped every 22 minutes. Instead of having a sobering effect, the statistics make this last moment effort at sincerity, nothing but laughable.

Because Jazbaa does not come across as a rape subject at all. It’s about one woman fighting a false rape and murder case in order to rescue her kidnapped daughter. She happens to be single and the city’s most competent criminal lawyer-Anuradha Verma.

Please note that ‘competent’ means that she just raises her voice over and above the prosecutor’s (Atul Kulkarni) all of a sudden, in the opening scene. Enough to make her win a particular case in favour of a criminal. The good part is that our heroine has grey shades, just like the corrupt hero. If only this had been explored further, it would have made Jazbaa a fascinating watch.

However the film is in a hurry to show how Anuradha is a great, single supermom. But before we can see how superheroic she is, the film rushes ahead and her daughter, Sanaya (Sara Arjun) gets abducted. Strangely when Sanaya disappears, lawyer mom panics within micro seconds. Then the laryngitis tearing screams follow and some deafening sound design comes into action.

A mysterious abductor demands that Anuradha, being the best lawyer around, defend a rapist and murderer, Miyaaz (Chandan Roy Sanyal) to get Sanaya back.

Yes , the film could have been mainly a rape drama, had the rape in the story had any emotional effect, despite it being shown 3-4 times in different versions. The stylized shots take away the impact of what could have been the crucial heart wrenching moments. Sia (Priya Banerjee),the daughter of a very out of place Shabana Azmi, has been raped and killed. Anuradha tries to build a case about how Sia was a victim to drugs; something called ‘angel dust’.

An fairly interesting plot kicks in. An official remake of Korean film, Seven Days, the screenplay moves fast in a gripping enough thriller mode. Gupta displays his old penchant for slick action and weaves a fairly engrossing tale.

Every time Yohaan comes on screen (initially surrounded distractingly by some stylish yellow lighting) and mouths some cynical lines in keeping with his corrupt character, the film shows some potential. Unfortunately, Yohaan’s dialoguebaazi has little effect, as his actions cannot match Anuradha’s melodramatic vocal chords.

Several new characters emerge, one of whom is a politician, played by Jackie Shroff. Mercifully, he plays it subtle. By the time, certain twists unfold; you don’t really care if mom and daughter will unite.

All you care about is Aishwarya Rai Bachchan who shows so much sincerity that you wish she had worked with another Sanjay who brought out the best in her in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.

Updated Date: Oct 09, 2015 15:13 PM