Making Jagga Jasoos a Hollywood style musical is a HUGE risk for both Ranbir Kapoor and Anurag Basu – here’s why

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we appreciate the makers of jagga jasoos for attempting to do something new with their movie, and perhaps it could get them a lot of brownie points as well.

Now from the headline, don’t think that I hate Jagga Jasoos. In fact, I feel that whatever trailers and the songs that the makers of the movie have offered till now, has been terrific, despite the callbacks to other movies. Ranbir Kapoor promises to deliver his best performance till date, and Katrina Kaif is looking more beautiful than before. The scenes have a Disney kind of feel (they are also the co-producers here) will appeal to both the kids and adults. Sure there is a tintin hangover in many scenes, but personally, I don’t mind that. After all, who doesn’t love a global fun-filled chase for something precious? And there have thrown animals in that chaos too! Totally my kind of movie! But there is something that is bothering me, and that’s the real genre of the movie…

Previously, director Anurag Basu and stars, Ranbir and Katrina, have let us know that Jagga Jasoos is a musical with a lot of songs. What I thought was that it would be a movie like Salman Khan’s Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge with a song after every two scene, and it was still a concern then too. But, with the new trailer that came out, I realised that it is not like any ‘musical’ movie that Bollywood is accustomed to. By a musical, the makers actually meant it would be like the ones they make in Hollywood, where instead of a normal conversation, the characters suddenly start singing.

So what’s bothering me? For that, we have to clearly differentiate between our idea of musicals and theirs. In Bollywood movies, we either have songs when it is supposed to be, or it plays in the background or when it is a dream sequence. Plus, 90 per cent of these songs are sung by professional singers.

But Hollywood musicals are different, as the songs either go on to describe a scene, a character’s state of mind or is part of a conversation. There will be too many songs and most of them feel like a part of a stage musical. Some prime examples of musicals in recent times are beauty and the beast, La La Land, Into The Woods, and of course, the girlie favourite ABBA-endorsing Mama Mia!
In Hollywood musicals, the makers insist that the songs are all sung by actors on whom it is picturised. So if you are not a really good singer, then you could end up being trolled for your dulcet tones. Just ask Russell Crowe, who is still being made fun of for his singing in Les Miserables…

Now in the West, Hollywood musicals are a big deal, and they have a huge fanbase as a genre. But the genre is not something that appeals to the mainstream audience here, because, face it, nearly every movie of ours has a song-and-dance routine. Even Hollywood is fascinated by this routine of ours, as any Western film on India ends up having a song-and-dance routine.

So musical, as a genre, doesn’t work as an idea for Bollywood and our audience. But there is still that novelty factor about characters suddenly mouthing their dialogue in a sing-song manner. In Jagga Jasoos, Ranbir Kapoor has a stammering issue, and as a person with a speech defect myself (though not stammering), I have often heard speech therapists giving this idea to say what you want in a song format so that it can help us communicate it in a better way to the other person. This idea was also played upon in Vishal Bhardwaj’s underrated but terrific, Kaminey, and also in the Malayalam movie, Su..Su… Sudhi Valmeekam.

But the two movies that I mention here are not musicals like Jagga Jasoos. Not every time will a character suddenly start singing in those aforementioned flicks. That’s where I feel concerned for JJ. It was quite funny to see Ranbir and Saurabh Shukla converse with songs in the JJ trailer. I am also sure that if the movie did everything right, then even critics will praise the movie a lot for using this technique. But critics are just a tiny portion of the movie’s target market. What about the ticket-paying public? Will they be fine with a movie where in nearly two-thirds of a movie, characters are singing their feelings out, no matter how quirky the idea is? For that, we have to check how the previous Bollywood movies of this type have fared.

Unfortunately, we don’t have much for comparison. Only a couple of movies kind of fit into this Hollywood-style musical idea –  Shah Rukh Khan’s Oh Darling Yeh Hai India and Ram Gopal Varma’s Mast. But they aren’t exactly musicals, because though there are a lot songs in them, the actors haven’t sung the songs themselves. 

And they have flopped big time!

I still say that I appreciate the makers of Jagga Jasoos for attempting to do something new with their movie, and perhaps it could get them a lot of brownie points as well. But as to whether the audience, who are not accustomed to the sing-n-say affair, will have the patience to bear Ranbir, Katrina and Saurabh Shukla’s singing for nearly two-thirds of the movie is a huge question. For a Hindi movie lover, songs have always had the role of being a break from the narrative, rather than taking it forward, and it is hard to change that mentality. The sing-song affair might feel cute at first, but our viewers might be worn off if it continues throughout the movie, because they are not quite adjusted to the idea.

Jagga Jasoos is a movie made on a more than a decent budget, and it has to appeal to the audience to recover its costs, especially after the frequent delays in the shoot. We don’t want another Rockstar like situation, where Ranbir is appreciated but the movie tanks. We love Ranbir, as a performer. He is excellent! But he still needs box office validation to sustain in this rat race called Bollywood.

Let’s hope that Anurag Basu, a smart and intelligent director that he is, will know his audience’s bearings and use the musicals stirrings in the right amount.
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