Movie Review: JAZBAA (2015) – Anyone But Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Published by Shah Shahid on

While we’ve all been awaiting Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s comeback for years (sarcasm) it came, not with a bang, but with a flurry of cringeworthy facial expressions that, I guess some people may call emoting. I’ve always maintained that the actress is nothing special, given the multitude of other actresses within Bollywood, and the praise and recognition she has at the moment is completely undeserved. No other movie exposes this as clearly as ‘Jazbaa‘, a movie that would otherwise be somewhat decent, if not for the actress cast as the protagonist. Read on for my Movie Review of ‘Jazbaa‘, and see my picks for other actresses that could’ve done this role.


Movie Review: JAZBAA (2015) - Anyone But Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in 'Jazbaa' 2015

Jazbaa‘ sees a prominent lawyer’s daughter kidnapped, in order to blackmail her into defending a rapist and murderer facing the death sentence. Yep, it’s a one-line synopsis but that’s why the execution of the film is so important. But we’ll get to that in a moment. The story of the film is completely based on South Korean thriller ‘Seven Days‘ starring Yunjin Kim (Sun from ‘Lost‘), so as much as I would like to credit Robin Bhatt and Writer / Director Sanjay Gupta with the story of ‘Jazbaa‘, I can’t. But despite the remake, I’m going to keep this Review limited to how ‘Jazbaa’ works on its own, without comparisons.

The film itself isn’t all that bad. The movie hooks, engages and keeps one guessing till the end, though the casting of the film poses some obvious spoilers. This isn’t director Sanjay Gupta’s first remake rodeo. The man responsible for another Korean adaptation, (‘Oldboy‘) loves his colourful filters and employs them in almost every movie he does. The spectrum of choice for ‘Jazbaa‘ is greens and yellows. Despite a well paced film, with great framed shots, Gupta chooses to drench everything in these filters, and while most of the shots look gorgeous, other scenes are inexplicably silly. A dark interrogation room with green light flowing through the windows, while Irfan Khan sports a pair of shades is ridiculous. A courtroom lit by soft yellow light, and the onlookers shining with green light on them, while the fluorescent lights above clearly look blue, is one example of the makers going a little too trigger happy with the post production color saturation.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in 'Jazbaa' 2015

yellow light = facial expression no. 1

Gupta’s not a bad director, and his brand of directing suits majority of the actors he’s worked with. While ‘Jazbaa‘ falls apart in the last 15 minutes, the greatest flaw of the film is the main protagonist’s lack of skills most crucial for a movie; acting. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan plays Anu, the big-shot lawyer who’s daughter is stolen from her, while she has to defend and free a potential murderer to save her. It’s a role that requires the ability to be strong, vulnerable, desperate and have a crisis of morality. Rai fails in almost every regard, with most of her on screen presence determined either by her model-like beauty, or her completely over the top over-acting. The level of melodrama that she exhibits in ‘Jazbaa‘ may be very adequately suitable in movies that are considered more romantic drama, such as her films like ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam‘ and ‘Devdas‘, but in a film that acts as more of a thriller, she is lost and out of her element.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in 'Jazbaa' 2015

green light = facial expression no. 1-a

The is even more evident when you compare her with co-star Irfan Khan. A corrupt cop with his own subplot within the story, Khan’s Yohaan helps Anu find her daughter in his own duplicitous ways using his off the books contacts. It’s a great, yet familiar, role for Khan who is quite possibly the best part of ‘Jazbaa‘. Gupta’s well written one liners and off the wall cheesy dialogues are delivered to perfection by the inimitable Khan who looks comfortable in a movie where he basically may as well be emoting in front of a green screen with a character to be CGI’d later, given what Rai gives him to work with. She’s unable to match step with him as he comes out on top in every scene they are in together.

Where the movie starts falling apart is near its third act. ‘Jazbaa‘ is a movie with very few supporting characters, yet it chooses to cast high profile ‘stars’ in these minor roles, automatically giving them importance within the story. This is counter intuitive in a movie that’s has a mystery plot point and a twist ending. In order to keep things Spoiler free, I won’t discuss the details, but it’s very expected given the prominence given to some performers over others.

Irfan Khan in 'Jazbaa' 2015

“there there, you’ll do better next time…”

‘Jazbaa‘ also has the misfortune of quite possibly being the first Bollywood film with a mid credits scene. Apparently Sanjay Gupta loves his Marvel movies. However, the scene is a ham fisted way of forcing a romance sub plot into a film that was otherwise completely devoid of it during its entire run time. Just before however, the movie makes a point to throw up CGI text on the screen after the apparent last scene, showcasing rape statistics for India. No, ‘Jazbaa‘, isn’t a movie with a social message nor does it deal with any of the things that those statistics depicts, despite veering off into monologues of motherhood and social injustice, non of which are actually followed through with in the film. The statistics must just be up for good measure I guess; that or tax exceptions under the guise of social awareness?

If you were at all waiting or excited for Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s big come back movie, you’d probably be better off waiting another year or two for her actual big screen return to films with Karan Johar directed ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ co-starring Anushka Sharma and Ranbir Kapoor.

5 Other Actresses Who Would’ve Been Suited For ‘Jazbaa’

  1. Priyanka Chopra (‘7 Khoon Maaf’)
  2. Rani Mukherji (‘No One Killed Jessica‘)
  3. Nandita Das (‘Earth‘)
  4. Konkona Sen Sharma (‘Wake Up Sid‘)
  5. Kareena Kapoor Khan (‘Heroine‘) -yes, even her.

Who do you think would’ve been better than Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in ‘Jazbaa’

Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter @theshahshahid

Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad


aditebanerjie · October 18, 2015 at 8:43 AM

Aishwarya Rai is the most overrated actor ever. And I agree with you, Priyanka or Rani would have been better choices.

    Shah Shahid · October 18, 2015 at 10:23 AM

    Hi, thanks for the comment.

    Glad to see I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Anushka · October 22, 2015 at 11:17 AM

Your prejudice against Ash is strong and obvious. All I had to do is check some posts about her.

About the film, it was over the top but overall decent. Aishwarya actually did a very good job… esp. the court scenes and the investigation scenes. She had a strong command over her voice and overall it was a very impactful portrayal. To each his own…whom to hate/envy/ dislike I guess.

    Shah Shahid · October 22, 2015 at 12:35 PM

    I wouldn’t say it’s prejudice, as that implies an unreasonable perspective. But you’re right in the sense that I am not a fan.
    I agree with you about the movie, but Aishwariya’s performance here was nothing out of the ordinary, but rather an amalgamation of other portrayals from her other movies. You might as well replace ‘Sunayna’ with ‘Deva’ in the scenes where she’s screaming. I respect that she tried her hand at something different through. I admire an actress willing to go out of her comfort zone and genre to try new things. Love to see her do a Anurag Kashyap movie? Maybe? 😐

    For a veteran actress who’s been in the industry for going on 20 years now, she’s had a handful of commercial hits, where she wasn’t part of an ensemble cast. That’s just a fact.

    Thanks for stopping by though, despite our disagreement over Ash. 🙂

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