Saturday 5 March 2016

Jai Gangaajal movie review

"The wine is old but it doesn't taste better."

It is unfortunate, rather sad, that this film contains the name of and is considered a sequal to an immensely greater film 'Gangaajal'. There are stark similarities between the two and yet, this one is nothing but a failed rip-off of the original. When you watch 'Jai Gangaajal', you cannot help but remember similar scenes from the first movie and you wonder how enthralling they were. Inadvertently, you compare them and you find that the one folding before you right then is a tomfoolery.

Jai Gangaajal could never have worked with a female lead. There, I said it. It's one thing to root for women power and a completely different to put an A-List actress in a role that Ajay Devgan himself had to go to great extremes to do justice with. Maybe Prakash Jha always knew this; maybe we all did. And so, he saw fit to set the stage for his leading lady, preparing a launchpad to make her seem more believable. But we can't help forget the expectations we entered the cinema hall with and this makes it hard to digest anything that the film pulls in front of us.

The wine is old but it doesn't taste better. A good cop -Abha Mathur(Priyanka Chopra) gets transferred to a bad place, rutted with political hooligans and corrupt police. There is a strife between the public and the politicians- Bablu Pandey (Manav Kaul) and Dabloo Pandey (Ninad Kamat). There is cruelty inflicted on the masses and then strikes the tale of revenge. But all of that comes later. That is the plot. What director Prakash Jha has worked more on here is the build-up to this crisis. And to do that, he chooses himself as Bhola Nath Singh, a cop who keeps things even amidst the conflict. He is pretty much the most interesting character in the movie. He is not a hero, he is a survivor. He knows how to work things out of what you have got. And he almost manages to maintain that balance until the good and the bad are allowed to take the center-stage. His actions are not justified but his character is. Prakash Jha throws in this character because he understands that the female lead wouldn't cut the deal for a two and a half hour show. So he spends time on Bhola Nath, showing us a negotiator, an agent, a hinge.

There are two contrasting thoughts that come into your mind when you witness Bhola Nath-  you either love him for introducing those little sparks of charisma into the movie or you complain for taking the spotlight away from Priyanka. And both of these thoughts are essentially the exact emotions that Jha wants us to possess. He prepares us to take a leap from Bhola Nath's greyness to Abha's white and Bablu Pandey's black. And then, when we finally make that jump, we feel why the whole film wasn't more about this latter theme. The great answer is that it would have sucked had it been just that.

The first part of the film is not all that good. The scenes do not have the buildup they deserved and there are just too many of scenes. Also, the background tracks do not match the mood of the sequences and things sometimes almost look comic. The film starts to get serious towards the business end of things when the good cop finally jolts the police department to life. The performances start getting better after this and the bar keeps rising till the finale. There are some interesting motifs thrown in about law and lawlessness which were pretty interesting given the recent public outrages in the country. But those too are unoriginal and are sometimes confusing to the viewer. In one frame, the public has risen violently while in the other it is curbed down, only to again return to the former mood. Maybe Jha wanted to portray how fickle the mind of a mob is but it would have been better if he had shown that a mob has no mind.

The makers have tried to keep things just right in this movie rather than putting things that would get extreme reactions from different viewers. For example, they do not really make a fuss about Abha Mathur being a lady cop. She is just part of the system here and is expected to behave just like a regular cop would. A more feminist audience may demand stressing this fact, asking for sequences that portray women power. And so, they compensate for it by throwing in those quintessential issues and conflicts that Abha Mathur helps other females to overcome. But where the movie fails is that we never feel convinced between either of them. We are not convinced when Priyanka throws those punches and fights those goons; Nor are we satisfied when she doesn't. There lies the flaw of a female lead choice here and there lies the reason why the movie wouldn't fare well.

Bandwidth Verdict- There is nothing better this week or else the verdict would have been to simply rewatch Gangaajal. But if you are a Prakash Jha fan, you should see it.

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