Moynaguri. North Bengal. A boy is born and left at the hospital. He is brought up by the hospital staff. He stammers and so he keeps quiet. He has his own world. Among books and nature. One day he watches a man take a dive from a coal train. The man is rescued by the boy and moved to the hospital. The man and the boy become father and son.
The boy is Jagga. The man is Bagchi. Both are investigators. But of different kinds.
I won't tell the story here. Let me dwell on some moments.
The father stumbles into clues and circumstances. He isn't prepared half the time. Yet he makes do. In a ganjee, he cycles off with Jagga to save himself through green top jungles. We see the sequence in song, in motion, in swirling light, in brilliant green and in an anxious Bagchi's face who's so unlike an investigator up close. We are being surprised just like Jagga is being surprised too.
Jagga looks at details. He has a yen for details. There's a clock tower mystery he's solving. There's a school assembly. There's rain. There's late evening. There's a clock tower. There are two women. There's a man. And a lot of little details. Now, Jagga's mind is registering these details in staccato mode. We watch the unfurling story in the same form. Through his eyes. Through his stammering speech forms. Through a song that acts like a voice over showing all the scenes happening with swift cute. Mystery in a box. Evening. Night. Next morning. Jagga with friends. The final say on the mystery, Sherlock or Feluda style.
Jagga adds things up. They are in Ukhrul, Manipur. Shruti, another reporter-investigator arrives there. Jagga bumps into a man. He follows him. Then, there's a murder in a room and a murder on a sky wheel. Jagga's mind takes him to some conclusions. We are nudged to some conclusions too. With Jagga. Via the net, a book with Netaji's exploits, a tunnel and Shruti's own background. It's a pleasure for us too when the mystery unravels. As they stumble through to success.
There's whimsy. Through songs and stutters. Images dissolved appear and then gain focus. Like evolving minds. There's small facial expressions. Bagchi's nods. Later Jagga's nods and eyebrow ticks. Shruti's lips pursed. Portents of done mistakes. There's swift actions. A la a young Feluda or Sherlock. Or Tintin. There's a back shot of Jagga standing at a round window and dark visage exactly like Tintin is in his comic books. Every disaster of Shruti or Bagchi ends with them being flat or legs up, like Thompson and Thompson or Captain or Prof Calculus.
There's enough happening in the songs as they are dialogue in verse. Beatboxing, guitar strings, horns creeping up, violins being maudlin as Jagga is being lonely. Choruses bring enthusiastic as Jagga solves mysteries. A whole orchestra picking up as Jagga and Bagchi adventure through Africa. Music is the soul of each happening. The reason for existence.
Katrina is Shruti and she bumbles through the film quite sincerely. She adopts the clunkiness that is required with admirable gusto. Saswata Chatterjee is priceless as Bagchi. He's a detective and a Bengali. Considerate, funny, sad, emotive, stubborn, witty, angry and fueled by adventure, all at once. This is a bravura act by Saswata and shall be hailed in different ways in years to come. He's Sanjeev Kumar and Peter Sellers coming together in Eastman colour.
Ranbir Kapoor is Jagga and he wears the character, seeps it into his bones and lives it. The stutters, the little sounds, the facial expressions, the idiosyncrasies and the walk. There's so much to see. Deduce. Understand. From just his portrayals. Here's an actor who can go very far with the right stories. Watch him throw toothpaste foam into a basin from afar. Priceless.
It's Anurag Basu's mind that's on screen. His stories. His life. His interests. His wanderings. His childhood. His belief in theatre and music. He weaves it together as only he knows.
This is compulsory cinema for people who believe in the art. I mean, which cinema can have a Bengali music strain effortlessly segue into an operatic orchestra and then end up in an African tribal song all in one sequence?
Mr. Basu, just release those comic books. Bestsellers guaranteed. Please.