It has been touted as the first detective film to hit Indian cinema with a female in the lead. It is also the first of a chain of films to come. Although this could be seen as a huge weight on the film’s shoulders, if there was any actress who could hold it all about still walk straight, it is Vidya Balan who plays the protagonist. Produced by Dia Mirza and Sahil Sangha’s Born Free Entertainment, distributed by Reliance Entertainment and with the likes of Ali Fazal, Arjan Bajwa, Supriya Pathak Kapur and Tanvi Azmi as important parts of the ensemble cast, ‘Bobby Jasoos’ seemed to be well on its way to super-hit status… or did it?

The story follows Bobby who is the eldest daughter of her Muslim family. She starts her own detective business, against her father’s wish, after being rejected by an agency she worked for and she quickly finds herself in the midst of a case, by request of Anees Khan (Kiran Kumar), that has mystery and good money reeking from it. Having been wowed by the payments and the interesting ways she finds to solve parts of the case, Bobby begins to question what is the motive behind it. Has she unwillingly become involved in something illegal?

Balan, it has to be said, it rightfully the life and soul of the movie. With such bold roles in her recent past, one expects her to shine and shine she does. Her ‘behenji’ avatar becomes a little bland when compared with the various getups she is seen in to disguise herself all in the name of her profession but Balan seems to easily fit each and every part of the role. Her constantly over-thinking and always alert character seems to be one which she manages to keep fresh even in the slower paced bits of the film. Fazal, quite surprisingly, plays the part of Balan’s love interest very convincingly even thought – at first glance – this pairing is hugely unconventional and awkward from the onset. Fazal’s youthful yet grounded persona and his character’s faithfulness towards Bobby is a turning point in the film and the two seem to compliment each other even in the oddest settings. The rest of the ensemble cast also add to the mix perfectly with Kumar’s return to Bollywood as a negatively shaded character being welcome and Bajwa’s villainous role also seems to suit him.

Samar Shaikh is debutante director for the film and although it seems he may falter, it doesn’t appear that he does. Each scene fits almost too fittingly to the narrative, making the plot easy to understand but yet not insulting to the intelligence of the audience. One would expect a detective film to carry an air of mystery and it does, with the second half having a lot more impact than the first. There is a let-down somewhat in the grounding elements of the story in the first half, with perhaps too much situational attention being given on putting forward the background of the characters and the activities of the protagonist. It’s only until one reaches five minutes before the interval does the plot suddenly become unexpectedly interesting – until then, the story seems to plod along, sometimes struggling to keep the audience’s attention. Of course, this can be forgiven totally once the second half kicks in.

The soundtrack of ‘Bobby Jasoos’ is by Shantanu Moitra and seems to be a easy to overlook in most parts. The best song of the bunch is undoubtedly Tu, by Shreya Ghoshal and Papon – and kudos to the way the song has been shot to, completely away from the overall feel of the film itself. The preppy numbers do the films justice and, once again, are great in the context of the story.

Overall, it’s safe to say that this is a film which is a good family watch with Balan’s performance being by far the highlight of the entire movie. However, it’s sad that ‘Bobby Jasoos’ is probably good as a one-time watch which will be greatly satisfying to the audience. Sometimes the audiences are seeking just that kind of escapism and if that’s what you want then ‘Bobby Jasoos’ is a more than perfect must-see.

BizAsia Showbiz Rating: 3.5/5