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"Theen Deewarein"

SLOW, DELIBERATE progression happens till you cannot wait to find out what the conclusion is — without losing sympathy for the criminals, and without losing sight of justice — with an acceptable and fair ending. Traces of uneasiness persist that make you question the concept of coincidences being happy tricks of Nature — and they seem to happen largely in films. They come in handy when conclusions have to be drawn, to provide a sort of a catharsis and to make you believe that ultimately — as one of the characters in this film says, "Satyameva Jayate".

"3 Deewarein" - unusual and gripping story.

Actor-director Nagesh Kukunoor in his latest venture, "3 Deewarein" believes in his story. A story that is nevertheless unusual and gripping. But you may not really agree with the way it ends. Touches of irony, in an otherwise grim situation, give this film its element of faint chuckles. Jailor Mohan (Gulshan Grover) tries to push for reformation instead of punishment. So the prison is locked up only in the night. But within these high walls exists a `home' of a kind till freedom has to come.

Fulfilling the term in some cases, and pardon for others. Three criminals, Jaggu (Jackie Shroff), Nagya (Nagesh) and Ishaan Mehta (Naseeruddin Shah) have been charged for murder and face death sentence, at Hyderabad's Musheerabad prison.

Jaggu is a successful lawyer with poetry in his soul. He has killed his wife (Sujatha Mehta) in cold blood. But when in prison, if he is not murmuring soulful verses he cooks the most divine sambar. But he also welcomes his death sentence because he knows that is inevitable. On the other hand is Nagya, who believes he did not kill his wife and is sure that truth will triumph. He hopes he will be free one day. He loves Jaggu's sambar, but not his poetry, which he can't figure out. But he is the only friend he is willing to have.

And then comes Ishaan Mehta, a charming rouge who is put behind bars for the accidental murder of a pregnant teller of a bank which he had just finished robbing. Freedom at any cost, is his mission, and is forever looking for ways to escape. Well yes! The three become friends. But Nagya is distrustful of friendships, while Jaggu is too preoccupied with his imminent death.

A documentary filmmaker, Chandrika (Juhi Chawla), comes into their world. She wants to know how those with a death penalty feel — about their feelings just before it happens. And as she makes her way into the prison and the lives of the prisoners, especially the three, the story moves at a taut pace to its conclusion. One is not too surprised that Chandrika is going through a bad marriage with an alcoholic, abusive husband (Vallabh Vyas). Somehow that aspect lends more poignancy to the situation. What is nice about Nagesh and his movies is that there is always a change from his previous ventures. The themes vary even if the style does not. This one is like a documentary with the drama very subtle, unobtrusive and yet compelling. The story never quite lacks credibility and as the director puts it: "Some things are really stranger than fiction.'' Done in a series of flashbacks (in grays and black and white) the structuring is interesting — especially the one big scene which has Chandrika interviewing the three of them. Trolley shots, which go on for quite a while, don't tire you. And the three characters where they talk about their life, has been handled rather effectively.

Written by Nagesh, the film may or may not have been inspired from other Hollywood ventures. Nasser, in this film too, is nothing short of brilliant. Jackie is the epitome of the soul of this film, just as Juhi is. She has portrayed this middle class woman with a goal in a subdued and mature way. Nagesh as the middle class man from Hyderabad, cannot be disliked. Gulshan Grover has proved that he is a consummate actor — provided he is given a good role. And he does justice as the jailor with a humane approach to prisons. If this film does well commercially too, then this is a true triumph for Indian cinema.


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