Reviews

Jai Gangaajal: Copping the drama

Priyanka Chopra looks off-colour, uninterested and uninvolved through most of the film. Photo: Special Arrangement

Priyanka Chopra looks off-colour, uninterested and uninvolved through most of the film. Photo: Special Arrangement  

In Jai Gangaajal, Prakash Jha is the hero and Priyanka Chopra the supporting actor despite what the publicity posters say.

Jai Gangaajal is Prakash Jha’s love letter to his own self. Not only does he stay the longest on screen, he also seems to have reserved the best scenes and lines for himself. If he elicits smiles from the audience with a smirk at the start of the film, he is also the one to garner a chunk of sympathy towards the end when his conscience and “khaki vardi ki izzat” come calling. In the midst of all this, one wonders why the film was being pitched as a Priyanka Chopra-vehicle in the first place and what of the Woman’s Day relevance here?

Jai Gangaajal is not a woman’s tale. It’s the usual, predictable story about corrupt, evil politicians, sold-out cops and the poor, harassed janata with some illegal land grab mafia and a new-age IIT/IIM activist also thrown in.

The setting is a place called Bankipur where a thermal power project is coming up with political and State blessings, of course. Meanwhile, the destitute farmers, deprived of their land, are resorting to suicide. The kind of landscape that has filled many a Jha frame earlier.

The politics of progress and development, however, is all too plastic with no nuance and depth. Remembering any of Jha’s early films like Damul or Parinati would be totally futile. Jai Gangaajal doesn’t even measure up to a Gangaajal .

Everything about the film is pitched very high. The fights that play out in public places and squares, the high-strung emotions, the over-the-top acting, the excess violence and drubbing and the noisy songs in the background. Even the blood that gushes out is a brighter shade of red.

The narrative is too jerky at the start and settles down a bit towards the interval but goes off kilter as soon as the mob justice and vigilantism begin rolling on.

And strangely, Priyanka almost disappears in these long, crucial chunks only to make a sudden reappearance towards the end to deliver some significant dialogue. Other than that, as a woman cop all that she is required to do is run, chase, fight, do hand-to-hand combat, thrash goons with sticks, fire shots, don Pathani suits and police uniform, and wear cakey makeup. In other words, try to be like a man and have junior cops thank her for making a man out of them. “Otherwise we would have retired impotent from the force,” one of them tells her.

Ironically, Priyanka looks off-colour, disinterested and uninvolved with the goings on through most of the film.

Jai Gangaajal (Hindi)

Director: Prakash Jha

Cast: Priyanka Chopra, Prakash Jha, Manav Kaul, Rahul Bhatt

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 7:13:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-reviews/jai-gangaajal-review-priyanka-chopra-prakash-jha/article8316012.ece

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