(This piece has spoilers for those who haven’t watched Jagga Jasoos).
Anurag Basu’s adventure musical Jagga Jasoos is full of literary and cinematic references, homages and Easter eggs. And, some inspirations.
Herge’s Tintin comics, based on the exploits of the eponymous reporter, is one of two major influences, as pointed out by the blogger Sagaran. These include Jagga’s quiff, the yellow biplane, the narrow escape from an approaching train, and another escape in a boat.
Satyajit Ray’s fantasy musical Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (1969) is referenced in two key instances. In Jagga Jasoos, Jagga ends a war by getting cakes dropped instead of weapons while in Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, the musicians Goopy and Bagha sing till rasgollas drop from the sky to end the war between Halla and Shundi.
That’s right, Shundi. In Jagga Jasoos, As Jagga (Kapoor) and Sruthi (Katrina Kaif) search for Jagga’s adoptive father Badal Bagchi, they go to the fictional town Shundi.
The hotel Agapastala is another Bengali reference – it means from top to bottom in Bengali. Tiktiki, another fictional African location in Jagga Jasoos, means lizard in Bengali and is also a term for a private detective.
Jagga Jasoos also lifts sub-plots from other movies and TV shows.
The Red Circle where Jagga, Badal and Shruti repeatedly meet, does not come from Buddhist philosophy as much as from Jean-Pierre Melville’s thriller Le Circle Rouge (1970). Melville made up the epigraph about the red circle – “Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, drew a circle with a piece of red chalk and said: “When men, even unknowingly, are to meet one day, whatever may befall each, whatever the diverging paths, on the said day, they will inevitably come together in the red circle” and attributed it to Buddha. This saying has been used in several films, including the Korean thriller Oldboy.
The arms drop by parachutes is visually similar to the scene from the war film A Bridge Too Far (1977).
Bagchi jumping and falling into a puddle of muddy water is inspired from a scene in the British sitcom The Vicar of Dibley.
The intricate rope-and-clock tower business in Jagga’s first mystery is a reimagining of the famous clock scene from Harold Lloyd’s silent film Safety Last! (1923).
Similarly, the sequence atop the villain Bashir Alexander’s train in the third act is inspired by the sequence in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (1989). Not just the swinging or getting trapped with circus animals, Jagga Jasoos’s central theme of an adventurous man looking for his lost father is also the centerpiece of Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade.
As for the film’s two-headed villain Bashir Alexander who started off as a circus performer, he is reminiscent of the twins Ping and Jing in Tim Burton’s equally fantastical film Big Fish (2003).
Jagga’s first two mysteries draw from the American detective TV series Monk. The clock tower mystery involving the murder of an English teacher dressed up as a suicide because of an extramarital affair gone wrong borrows its plot from the episode Mr Monk Goes Back To School.
As for the second mystery Murder on the Giant Wheel, the central conceit of a third person killing a passenger on a Ferris wheel while his co-passenger gets framed is taken from the episode Mr Monk Goes To The Carnival.