Zee Studios, Viiking Media & Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. and White Feather Films’ Jazbaa (UA) is a thriller. Anuradha Verma (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) is a single mother and a celebrated lawyer who has a fantastic track record. She has the reputation of winning court cases and has got acquitted several hardcore criminals too. For her clients, she can adopt any means, fair or unfair.
Anuradha gets a strange phone call one day, asking her to represent incarcerated criminal Niyaz Khan (Chandan Roy Sanyal) and anyhow ensure his bail. Niyaz has raped and murdered Sia (Priya Banerjee), daughter of Garima Chaudhry (Shabana Azmi). The caller informs Anuradha that her little daughter, Sanaya (Sara Arjun), has been kidnapped and she would be set free only if Niyaz Khan is granted bail by the court.
Anuradha is devastated and she has very few days to accomplish the task in court, to save her daughter. Decorated but now suspended police officer Yohan Khan (Irrfan Khan), who is a dear friend of Anuradha, helps her in her mission. He introduces her as a writer, to Garima so that Anuradha can extract details about the fateful night when Sia was killed. All along, the intention is to get evidence which can ensure Niyaz Khan’s freedom so that little Sanaya is returned safely to Anuradha. The pressure on Anuradha is mounting as the phone calls from her daughter’s abductors continue.
The court case begins. As arguments progress, Anuradha Verma proves in the court that besides Niyaz, there was another man in Sia’s house on the fateful night and that man was Sam (Siddhanth Kapoor), son of politician Mahesh Maklai (Jackie Shroff). She presents the events of the night in such a way that it appears that either of Niyaz or Sam could have murdered Sia. Even while she is arguing her case in court, she is surprised to see a criminal (Abhimanyu Singh) whom she had saved in an earlier court case, present Sam in court. Much to the embarrassment of his father, Sam admits in court that he had brought home Sia’s dead body which was then disposed of by his father. The court now orders the arrest of Sam and politician Mahesh Maklai.
Does Niyaz Khan get bail? Does Sanaya return home safely? Who is the person behind the telephone calls to Anuradha Verma? Why does the person want Niyaz Khan to be set free from prison?
The film is based on Shin-Yeon Won’s Seven Days. Sanjay Gupta and Robin Bhatt have penned a screenplay which is full of holes. No doubt, there are thrilling moments which leave the audience stunned but the flaws in the screenplay question the very foundation of the script and make the thrilling scenes look like small change. Anuradha Verma, right in her introductory scene, is shown as a lawyer who can go to any lengths to defend her client – and this, even if the client is a hardened criminal – and this is a well-known fact. That being so, what was the need for the kidnapper to abduct Anuradha’s daughter? Even without the abduction, Anuradha would’ve taken up Niyaz Khan’s case and tried her best to secure bail for him for a fee, of course. What’s more, law gives every lawyer the right to fight for his/her client irrespective of whether the client is the guilty/accused or the complainant. Had Anuradha Verma been an upright lawyer and had she refused to take up Niyaz Khan’s case, the kidnapping of Sanaya to pressurise her to take up Niyaz Khan’s case would’ve made sense. But the writers have made it amply clear before the abduction that Anuradha has no qualms about arguing for criminals and winning cases on their behalf. Also, Anuradha Verma could only argue the case in court, the judgement would still be for the judge to deliver. Wouldn’t it be more worthwhile for the kidnapper to abduct a family member of the judge rather than an even otherwise willing lawyer?
Again, when the identity of the kidnapper is revealed towards the end, the audience is left wondering why the kidnapper had to pretend to be in favour of a death sentence for Niyaz Khan while working towards securing his bail. Obviously, the drama has been built solely for confusing the audience, not any character/s in the drama. Anybody with even very basic knowledge of screenplay writing would agree that this is one of the most silly ways to write a screenplay. Even otherwise, the revelation of the suspense in the end has only academic interest because all that had to happen has already happened even without the identity of the kidnapper being revealed. For all the audience could care, the kidnapper could’ve been anyone!
Another drawback of the screenplay is that the emotional part of the drama – after all, a lawyer has to win a court case to ensure that her little daughter is alive – fails to move the viewers. The angle of the kidnapped Sanaya takes a backseat post-interval and this has a negative effect on the minds of the audiences who get to see a super-confident Anuradha arguing in court as if she was under no great pressure. What the writers could not bring out in the courtroom drama is mother Anuradha Verma’s mental trauma. Yohan Khan’s character is more of a catalyst than anything else and considering that the character is played by Irrfan Khan, his fans will feel disappointed because he doesn’t have any heroic scenes.
Kamlesh Pandey’s dialogues are very good. In fact, the dialogues he has written for Yohan Khan are truly entertaining and, to an extent, make up for the terribly weak screenplay of Sanjay Gupta and Robin Bhatt.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan acts well but does go overboard in some scenes, mainly those in which she is required to scream and cry. Irrfan Khan once again delivers a lovely performance, making his presence felt wonderfully despite playing just a catalyst. Shabana Azmi leaves a mark as Garima. Chandan Roy Sanyal is effective but gets limited scope. Atul Kulkarni has his moments. Abhimanyu Singh is natural. Jackie Shroff makes his mark in a special appearance. Siddhanth Kapoor is quite nice as Sam. Priya Banerjee is okay as Sia. Sara Arjun lends decent support in the role of little Sanaya. Shivraj Walvekar is lovely as ACP Rokde. Deeksha Kaushal (as the dancer in the discotheque), Dadahi Raj (as Parmar), Ankur Vikal (as Vijay), Pramod Pathak (as Satnam), Sangeeta Kanhayat (as Nazia), Rajat Kaul (as Benny), Kaizad Kotwal (as Dr. Satish), Rajiv Kachroo (as Joe), Taran Bajaj (as Sunny Locksmith), Shahnawaz (as Ram) and Sanjay Gurbax Singh (as lawyer Boman) lend adequate support.
Sanjay Gupta’s direction fails to create the right kind of impact. He has concentrated too much on making a stylised film but that has not taken care of the emotional side of the drama which remains dull. Music (Sachin Jigar, Arko Pravo, Amjad-Nadeem and Badshah) is good but the manner in which the songs are incorporated in the film, it doesn’t do justice to them. For instance, the ‘Bandeya’ song (which is rather melodious) comes in the end rolling titles and that too, without visuals! Lyrics (Sanjay Gupta, Arko Pravo, Amjad-Nadeem and Badshah) are appropriate. Ahmed Khan’s choreography is alright. Amar Mohile’s background music is impactful. Sameer Arya uses his camera effectively to capture the drama. Javed-Aejaz’s action scenes are interesting. Wasiq Khan’s production designing is appropriate. Bunty Nagi’s editing is good but the fast cuts tell on the emotional impact of the drama.
On the whole, Jazbaa will fail to deliver at the box-office and will entail losses to all concerned. Class audiences may find the film interesting but that will just not be enough.