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Bilquis ‘Bobby’ Ahmed isn’t an average woman – and neither is Vidya Balan, for whom Bobby Jasoos feels like a natural extension.

Balan is at a career zenith and her roles don’t always warrant a high-priced leading man. Like the modern woman, she can do quite well by herself.

Her Bilquis, though grounded in traditional values – some overbearing, most of them strictly necessary – is an independent minded, brilliant mix of the brave and the bold, so much like Balan’s on-screen radiance, it’s impossible to not fall for her.

A scene from movie, "Bobby Jasoos". – Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "Bobby Jasoos". – Courtesy Photo

But that’s not the only reason to give Bobby Jasoos a thumb’s up.

The screenplay by Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh, directed with good eye for subtleness by debutant Samar Shaikh, has Bobby in Moghalpura, Hyderabad, in a family of six – two sisters, a brusque aunt (Tanvi Azmi), a temperate mother (Supriya Pathak), and a tetchy dad (Rajendra Gupta). And no, her dad isn’t gruff because of petty things like not having a son – the story is above all that. It’s because Bobby is an amateur detective – a fiction-inspired ‘jasoos’, fascinated by the idea of stealth and disguise.

Balan plays dress-up in most of her locality-bound cases. An imam with a hunchbacked posture, a balding, bucktoothed palmist, a ‘quite ordinary’ orderly, a television producer with impossible bosoms, and several low-key burqas help her in nailing down culprits like sons who smoke, adulterous spouses or snooping facts on eligible marriage proposals.

Scenes from movie, "Bobby Jasoos". – Courtesy Photo
Scenes from movie, "Bobby Jasoos". – Courtesy Photo

Until one day, she is hired by Anees Khan (Kiran Kumar, excellent), a shady character who wants her to track a girl named Nilofer, with only the age and a birthmark in her hand as a lead.

Bobby’s fancy inventiveness on tracking down case is on show here, and Balan makes her as distinct and infectious a character as possible.

The story, which mingles Bobby’s personal life, a couple of side-characters, a recurring sub-plot of a local hood and his lovelorn problems with the already engaged girl-next-door, provides enough divergence from the main plot to make the two hour running time a light-hearted escapist affair.

A scene from movie, "Bobby Jasoos". – Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "Bobby Jasoos". – Courtesy Photo

The songs – there are three, with music by Shantanu Moitra – and the cinematography by Vishal Sinha stay out of the way; they are inconspicuous, but do their job well.

The other show-stealer, apart from Bobby, is the production design and the sensibility of the Hyderabadi lifestyle.

Samar Shaikh, who graduated from Assistant Directing (Dhoom, Badmaa$h Company) and storyboarding (Chakde! India, Dhoom 3), has a gift of keeping things in check without letting cliché step in – and that is a feat by itself.

The final word

With gripping screenplay, brilliant performances and hilarious situations, the film is a must-watch. Producer Dia Mirza should be proud: it’s not every weekend you get good, family-friendly entertainment, that’s not a sin to the senses.

Read this review in Urdu here.

Released by Reliance Entertainment, 'Bobby Jasoos' is rated U. There's a lack of anything off-putting.

Directed by Samar Shaikh; Produced by Dia Mirza and Sahil Sangha; Written by Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh; Cinematography by Vishal Sinha; Edited by Hemal Kothari; Music by Shantanu Moitra; Production Design by Tariq Umar Khan.

Starring: Vidya Balan, Ali Fazal, Arjan Bajwa, Anupriya Goenka, Arjan Bajwa, Supriya Pathak, Tanvi Azmi, Prasad Barve, Aakash Dahiya, Zarina Wahab, Rajendra Gupta and Kiran Kumar.