Director Sanjay Gupta’s filmography largely consists of thrillers. While his earlier films were spearheaded by male protagonists, his new venture ‘Jazbaa’, a remake of the South Korean film Seven Days, has a woman as its central protagonist. The film, which marks the return of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan to the movies after five years, also stars Irrfan Khan, Shabana Azmi, Chandan Roy Sanyal and Jackie Shroff.
Anuradha Verma (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) is a top criminal lawyer whose firm, as she puts it, takes up the cases of criminals as they are the ones who can afford her fees. Anuradha gets a jolt when her daughter Sanaya (Sara Arjun) is kidnapped. The kidnappers get in touch with Anuradha and tell her that she has to take up the case of a notorious criminal called Niyaz Khan (Chandan Roy Sanyal). If she helps him win the case, her daughter will be sent back to her. Anuradha takes up Niyaz’s case immediately but things get very complicated as she crosses path with several people connected to the case. Anuradha resolves to win the case against all odds. Police officer Yohan, who happens to be an old friend of Anuradha, helps her out in looking for her daughter.
Sanjay Gupta tries to keep the pace fast and keep the narrative moving at a breakneck speed. The first half is full of predictable moments most of which fail to engage you. The incidents that take place after the kidnapping of the young girl happen too quickly. This causes a jerk in the narrative. Also, they are filmed in an amateurish way which further disengages one from the narrative. After a dull first half, the second half shows some sparks of brilliance sporadically. There are some thrilling moments but they are few and far in between. The identity of the kidnapper might not come as a shock to a large chunk of the audience but it creates an impact because the scenes preceding and succeeding it are filled with intense drama.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan delivers a decent performance but goes overboard at times, especially in the most dramatic moments. Irrfan Khan lends some charm to his part and make you cheer for him even as he mouths cringe-inducing dialogues. Shabana Azmi is first-rate. Though the graph of her character could have been further developed, she performs to the best of her abilities. Chandan Roy Sanyal delivers a menacing performance as Niyaz. Jackie Shroff is terrific in a brief role. Abhimanyu Singh leaves a huge mark with just a couple of scenes. Siddhant Kapoor does not get much scope but is good nevertheless. Sara Arjun does well as Sanaya. Priya Banerjee delivers a fair performance as Sia.
Sanjay Gupta strives to maintain a balance between drama and suspense. While the drama works only in parts, the audience gets some thrill only in a few portions of the second half. The original screenplay of Seven Days has been reworked (Robin Bhatt and Sanjay Gupta) and the result is far from being impressive. Kamlesh Pandey’s dialogues are very impactful at places but some of the lines, especially the ones uttered by Irrfan Khan, are cringeworthy. The background score (Amar Mohile) is loud and consists of some routine music pieces. The music (Amjad-Nadeem, Arko and Baadshah) is strictly average. The editing (Bunty Nagi) is not up to the mark. Some of the scenes move too fast. The insert of the cityscape, which is shown again and again, irritates. Sameer Arya’s camerawork is good but is marred by the overdone DI consisting of some overwhelming green and sepia overtones.
‘Jazbaa’ neither works as an emotional drama nor does it makes an impact as a thriller. You get tempted to leave the theatre after watching the bland first half. You do not feel as exhausted as you leave the theatre after going through the end credits as the second half offers some thrilling moments which keep you hooked for some time. But, a dull first half and an average second half does not make for a good film, does it?