Jazbaa Review: Of passion and ambiguous morals!

Jazbaa Review: Of passion and ambiguous morals!

Source: General

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Friday 09 October 2015

Movie Title

Jazbaa Review: Of passion and ambiguous morals!


Sanjay Gupta

Star Cast

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Irrfan Khan, Shabana Azmi

It's raining crime thrillers, and after the astute Talvar, we have now have Jazbaa, which translates as the word 'passion'. Incidentally, both films revolve around female victims, involve cops and courts, and are presented as murder mysteries where we're shown several versions of the truth.

While Jazbaa is not inspired by a true story, it attempts to highlight the issue of sexual assault on women. As a commentary on the same, Jazbaa, which is often regressive itself, fails terribly. As a commercial crime thriller, it works fairly well.

The film is fun because it often challenges the concept of right and wrong. As Irrfan's cop character says in that remarkable dialogue, 'Jaisi duniya, waise hum'. The central characters - a lawyer who often defends criminals, a corrupt cop who means well, and the villain with a motive - are all morally ambiguous, albeit in different degrees. Even the finale, with some interesting surprises, cements the film's belief that even the plainest among us have shades of grey.

A remake of the 2007 Korean film Seven Days, the film is about top lawyer and single mother Anuradha Varma (Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan), who is rendered helpless when her daughter is kidnapped. The kidnapper, a mysterious voice over the phone, wants her to defend an alleged rapist-murderer as ransom.

The faceless kidnapper urges Anuradha to take on the case of Niyaaz (Chandan Roy Sanyal), who is in jail for the rape and murder of an art student.

Anuradha is well-known as an advocate who wins cases and seems to have been hand-picked for the job. The character goes through an impossibly difficult dilemma - on one hand is the convict who, as per the proof, is guilty of the heinous crime; and on the other side is her kidnapped daughter, who will be free only once the convict is free.

Anuradha is distraught and has no choice but to defend Niyaaz. As the courtroom trial proceeds, director Sanjay Gupta shows us all possible scenarios through short asides. As we see the various possibilities from different perspectives, Gupta manages to keep the story immersing.

What doesn't work is the victim-blaming (we are repeatedly told that the girl was young, lived alone, had boyfriends and was a drug-addict), even if the film is careful to criticize victim-blaming right after. The film also hints that kids of separated parents are prone to fall in trouble. There are two kids in the film that come from families where the parents are divorced - one gets kidnapped, and the other is dead- so that's some solid judgment right there, however covert. Then, the disclaimer informing us about the number of assaults of women is also pointless in a film such as this.

Technically, the excessively colour-corrected sky is plain distracting. The film has some lovely songs with 'Jaane tere sheher...' standing out. A very clumsy item song is insinuated bang in the middle of the story.

Dialogue lacks consistency, probably due to the involvement of several writers. At times, there are some superb, crackling lines, mostly for Irrfan's character that he delivers in his trademark deadpan style. And at other times, the lines seem dreary and careless. Like a character asking, "Yeh creativity unse lee thi?" trying to ask if the victim took after her creative father.

Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan is wonderfully convincing as the distraught mother and a professional in a dilemma. Kudos to the actress, who after her five-year hiatus, chose this gritty drama for her comeback. Irrfan Khan is dependably superb in the role of an authoritative has-been cop. He has some of the best lines in the movie, and Khan is simply masterful. The talented ensemble cast including Shabana Azmi, Atul Kulkarni, and Chandan Roy Sanyal elevate the film tremendously.

Despite the story being highly far-fetched, the film is still arresting for its pacy storytelling, actors who perform with conviction, and a few interesting surprises in the finale. Whether it's the performances, the characters, the motive, or the storytelling-there are traces of jazbaa everywhere. Worth a watch!

Rating: 3.5 stars

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