Cast: Vidya Balan, Ali Fazal, Supriya Pathak, Kiran Kumar
Direction: Samar Shaikh
Rating: 2 stars
She maybe Bollywood’s first lady detective, but Vidya Balan’s Bobby Jasoos is no desi Nancy Drew or Miss Marple. The film is a far cry from a pacy whodunit. Directed by debutant Samar Shaikh, Bobby Jasoos is not a detective story, but a story about a detective, rather an aspiring one. The focus here is not so much on the cases that come her way. Instead we see more of how she deals with them as a middle class 30-year-old unmarried woman who comes from an orthodox Muslim family living in the crowded bylanes of Moghalpura, Hyderabad.
Samar Shaikh manages to create Bobby’s world in loud colours, louder people, walking on dusty streets lined with shops of every kind. A rickety cyber café serves as Bobby’s ‘office’ where people in the neighbourhood approach her to find the addresses of pretty girls and to spy on their spouses. She does try to get a job at the town’s only detective agency but multiple rejections fuel her determination to set out on her own. Now her days are divided between solving these petty cases and convincing her family that being a jasoos is a real job.
Things get serious when one day she lands a mysterious case from an even more mysterious client, Anees Khan played by Kiran Kumar. The pay is tempting and Bobby bites the bait. This amateur detective is not as brilliant as she is charming. She wins hearts faster than she solves cases. The plot is riddled with well-placed strokes of luck and Bobby manages to get past each level of the puzzle. Then comes a time when she realises something’s amiss about her client Anees Khan and that’s about as mysterious as the film gets. The grand reveal in the end seems the result of hurried writing --- a pinprick to the balloon of intrigue.
The actors do all they can to elevate a lacklustre plot. Ali Fazal, who plays Bobby’s friend-cum-client Tasavvur, has some great scenes and the actor manages to remain memorable in spite of being pitted against a star. Surprisingly, their chemistry is oddly convincing. Ali subtly expresses the quirks of a man torn between his fearless onscreen persona of a crime show host, and a timid son off-screen, who cannot muster the courage to tell his father he is not ready for marriage yet. Arjan Bajwa’s kohl lined eyes are too much of a distraction in his character that’s supposed to be the mohalla’s don. Vidya’s faithful sidekicks Shetty and Ali are aptly cast. Veteran actors Supriya Pathak, Tanvi Azmi and Rajendra Gupta leave no room for complain. Kiran wears his grey shades with panache but his role reversal is not the climax you were hoping for.
Vidya’s character is not meant to be subtle although in some scenes she makes you wonder if there are spells of overacting. We get to see her in some rather interesting disguises and she pulls off those quirks convincingly. But after her thrilling turn in Kahaani, Bobby Jasoos doesn’t manage to be a worthy follow up.
The music is hummable but abrupt song sequences is the last thing you want to see in a film that has ‘jasoos’ in its title.
After a promising start, the story unnecessarily meanders into a family drama towards the end and you are left wondering where is the detective. But she is busy wiping off her tears with her dupatta.