Bollywood review: Vidya manages to do unthinkable in 'Bobby Jasoos'?

For those of us who’ve been ardent fans of Alexander McCall Smith’s incredible tales of a chubby woman detective, who with her charm and goodwill sets out to make Bostwana a better place, debutant director Samar Shaikh’s Bollywood version appears a tad unimaginative, painfully stretched and devoid of thrills.

While this isn’t lifted from the famous detective series, you secretly wish it was.

For a movie that’s being pitched as the story of Bollywood’s first-ever woman detective, the basics appear unimportant. The investigation is cut short by Bollywood’s staple romance, a family drama and soundtracks, diluting the impact immensely.

Just when our lady detective is about to crack a big case, she’s suddenly transported to a rustic fort to romance a man who, we can’t help notice, appears awkwardly mismatched.

Imagine watching Bengali detective Byomkesh Bakshi slip into a song midway during an investigation? Hopefully, filmmaker Sujoy Gosh, who had given Vidya her much-appreciated ‘Kahaani’ and is now working on giving the detective a Bollywood debut, wouldn’t be governed by box-office statistics and would instead treat his character with a little more respect.

Writer Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh’s story could have easily been cut down from two hours to 30 minutes, but producers Dia Mirza and Sahil Sangha thought otherwise. A decision that would cost them dearly.

The hunt for a special biriyani and an audition for a TV actress drags on and on, leaving us thoroughly exhausted.

Sanyuktha, despite wanting to write her heroine a significant life, pulls her down with small-town clichés. In this world, an aged dad is worried about his 30-year-old daughter being unmarried and isn't happy that she's living her dream. Good girls, he believes, must only get married, not earn a big salary. Unfortunately, his grouchy mood doesn’t disappear even when the girl obliges.

Here, a couple, who are engaged to be married, is reprimanded for being spotted together outside a hotel, and an earlier wedding date fixed to set  things right.

Set in Hyderabad, ‘Bobby Jasoos’ is about a girl who chases her dream of being a detective. After being rejected by the town’s big detective agency, she sets about to set her own company. Armed with her loyal pals – the endearing Shetty and the earnest Munna, she scouts for opportunities to display her talent.

After being bombarded with requests to find addresses of pretty girls and spy on husbands and best friends, she lands a real case. Only, the request is bizarre but the pay good.  

Bobby cracks each assignment in her charming way, and returns home with a big pay cheque each time. Until one day when her conscience pricks and she retraces her steps to find the truth.

Vidya Balan is sincere as the robust Bobby, adopting her Hyderabadi twang as genuinely as a Bollywood actor would’ve possibly attempted. You can sense she has had a blast being Bobby. Unfortunately, a lazy edit and a plot that’s not high on logic or thrills leaves her without much to do.

It's clear that she's on the lookout for a worthy comeback after two average performances in ‘Shaadi Ke Side Effects’ and ‘Ghanchakkar’. Unfortunately, ‘Bobby Jasoos’ doesn't match her thrilling act in ‘Kahaani’.

Few-films-old Ali Fazal is charming and a treat to watch. Unfortunately, Bobby hogs much of the spotlight, leaving him with little space to show his talent.

Yesteryears’ baddie Kiran Kumar returns as the menacing Khan and packs a punch. His story, however, is hurried and ended without much thought.

The supporting cast is a mixed bag, with a handful of seasoned actors and a few fairly new faces. Zarina Wahab and Tanvi Azmi make an appearance, but aren’t allowed much screen time. ‘Fashion’ star Arjan Bajwa gets more attention for his kohl-smeared eyes and less for his dialogues. And there’s the pretty Anupriya Goenka, who we hoped would've been given more attention.

While ‘Bobby Jasoos’ is a fair attempt at women-centric characters, it fails to do much else because of its inability to break free from Bollywood stereotypes. But due credit must be given to costume designers Theia Tekchandaney and Sheetal Sharma for changing the way Bollywood looks at disguises. At least, wearing a wig or specs isn’t the only way to look different.

Despite the effort and the hype, ‘Bobby Jasoos’ just doesn’t make the cut. At least, not for us, especially since we cracked the case even before Bobby did. Now, that's not saying much, is it?
 

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