Film: Bobby Jasoos
Director: Samar Shaikh
Starring: Vidya Balan
Arjan Bajwa etc.
Release Date: July 4th, 2014
Bobby Jasoos tells the story of an aspiring detective. But there is a catch. Bobby is a girl belonging to an orthodox Muslim family. Since being a ‘detective’ is not a role cut-out for a woman, all possible odds are stacked against her. Her father practically disowns her and innumerable jibes are aimed at her. Determined that she is, she overcomes all her obstacles and busies herself spying for disputes in the love and marital lives of her friends and cousins. Things start looking up for Bobby when a rich NRI assigns her to find missing girls and boys with birthmarks. The real mystery begins when circumstances force her to question the identity of her dubious, filthy-rich client.
After Kahaani, Vidya Balan does it again! She plays her part with élan, slipping into the skin of a middle-class Hyderabadi girl who struggles to find an identity for herself by daring to be a detective. From the beginning till the end, Vidya carries the film on her shoulders. Her co-actors do not have much to do but play their parts well in weaving the collage of the story. Hyderabad becomes a beautiful kitsch-work of bazaars and biriyani stalls and small little bits and pieces which capture the conundrum of Hyderabadi life. In this trim little space of mayhem and confusion, the songs look out of place. Granted that Hindi films are most well-known for dancing-around-the-trees stereotype, this film would have fared much better without the routine.
The film blends a subtle comic element with the more serious under-current of gender roles and societal prejudices. Bobby’s family cannot do without a daily dose of melodramatic serials while an episode from the emblematic CID plays in the background of one of the scenes. But most of all, what comes forth is a girl’s struggle to seek validation and recognition in the eyes of her father and the society at large by not conforming to the gender-specific role assigned to her. That is why a gesture of appreciation for her work from her client becomes more important to Bobby than the money he offers her. Much like Vidya’s personal triumph in a world of predominantly male-oriented films, Bobby Jasoos aims to capture the triumph of a lone woman in a profession almost exclusively meant for the men. Bilkis thus becomes Bobby, a name that does not have a gender connotation to it.
But Bobby Jasoos does not quite become what it sets out to be. The story gets fairly predictable post-interval and the suddenly over-emphasized romantic angle between Bobby and Tasavvur becomes the final nail in the coffin. The film disintegrates into shreds of mediocrity and clichés. It is indeed ironic how a film which promises to break stereotypes ends up becoming a stereotype itself. Whether this is the director’s idea of an ironic joke or not, Bobby Jasoos ends up missing the mark.