Plot: Bilqis Ahmed (Vidya Balan), aka Bobby, dreams of becoming a private detective one day, but her family will have nothing of it because girls from this humble locality in Hyderabad don't do such outrageous things. Sparks fly when Bilqis insists and sets out on a collision course with everybody around her.
The hype around Samar Shaikh's directorial debut, Bobby Jasoos, which hits theatres on Friday, was no less than the expectations from Vidya Balan, especially post her stellar performance in Sujoy Ghosh's Kahaani.
To be fair, it starts on a high note and the ingenuity of the opening scene is surprising. It shows a couple (Arjan Bajwa and Anupriya Goenka) passionately making out in an alley, only to be interrupted by a strange looking maulvi staring weirdly at the duo.
That's Bobby Jasoos! We are told she is jobless currently, but aspires to be a detective some time soon. In the meantime, she snoops on unsuspecting people, including her sister and her boyfriend, and other residents of Mohalla Moghalpura to earn petty money. And then she strikes gold: a mysterious client gives her an equally mysterious assignment.
The first half of Bobby Jasoos is entertaining and pacy, but drags to an agonising halt as soon as the assignment takes centrestage. Shot aesthetically in a set-up completely apt for the story, Vidya is nothing short of a typical Bollywood hero here: she runs across alleys in canvas shoes, fights with her dad, and has no qualms about it. She even has the epic face-off with the bad guy, threatening him "tereko malum nahi ki kis se panga liya hai, choregi nahi Bobby tereku".
Sadly, the film could have done very well if it didn't waste too many frames on dealing with Bobby and her confrontation with her family. It looks forced and deliberate, a brazen attempt to reach a wider audience. Throughout the film, Rajendra Gupta (Bobby's father) does not talk to her because he does not approve of her 'jasoosi'. But just ten minutes before the end, he changes and melts. Why? We don't know. All that we know is that suddenly the father and the daughter have a scene where years of anger gives way to love and all misgivings are forgiven. Silly, to say the least.
As for the performances, Vidya Balan looks at complete ease playing the bubbly, happy-go-lucky Bobby, or the many avatars she sports in the film. Ali Afzal looks every inch the character he plays: Bobby's friend Tassavur, who cannot stand up to his father, and always in awe of the hero that Bobby is. He brings in a certain cute charm to the film. Supriya Pathak, Zarina Wahab, Kiran Kumar and Rajendra Gupta also suit their roles well.
Samar, a debut director, has come out with a decent film. He would do well to choose his scripts wisely -- ones that have a complete story. For all the fun that Vidya is, Bobby Jasoos ends up a bit too abrupt -- in the end, we don't know if Bobby eventually became a jasoos. We also don't know what happened to the Ali-Vidya love story.
Watch Bobby Jasoos, if you must, for Vidya's performance and the chemistry she shares with Ali.