There are some filmmakers who prefer to stay in their comfort zone even as they go about making different films. Director Prakash Jha is known for making films that deal with some issue pertaining to the country and have a political bent to them. Though Jha made a couple of respectable films in the early years of his career, he tasted commercial success with the release of ‘Gangaajal’ (2003). Now, thirteen years after the Ajay Devgn starrer released, Prakash Jha comes up with ‘Jai GangaaJal’, a sequel-in-spirit to the cop drama.
B.N Singh (Prakash Jha) is a police officer who is posted in a small town called Bankipur in North india. He is faithful to Babloo Pandey, the local MLA and Ramakant Chowdhary (Kiran Karmarkar) and does not mind cleaning up their mess as long he is paid to do so. With law and order in their hands, Babloo, Ramakant and his men misuse their power and exploit the people of the town. The town, plagued with corruption and justice, sees a ray of hope with the arrival of Abha Mathur, a young SP (Superindent of Police) who resolves to set things right. Dabloo Pandey (Ninad Kamath), Babloo Pandey’s brother, strikes a deal with a corporate company to sell a piece of land in Bankipur. A part of that land is owned by a poor farmer. Sunita (Vega Tamotia), the farmer’s daughter, refuses to sell their part of the land. This enrages Dabloo and leads to a series of events that creates mayhem across the town.
Even though the film stands at a runtime of two hours and forty minutes, it moves at a spry pace and that keeps you engaged. The problem is that it resorts to all the usual trappings of a cop drama that one has witnessed in countless Hindi films. Prakash Jha fails to bring any novelty to an oft repeated plotline. Given the fact that the film has a female actress essaying the role of a tough police inspector in a small town, the director could have played around with this aspect the treatment meted out to a female cop in a small town. Jha’s understanding of the small town milieu and that reflects in the authentic treatment he lends to the film. This, also, is one of the film’s biggest strengths.
The character of Abha Mathur comes across as one of the weakest links in the film. Abha goes missing from many of the key sequences in the film and arrives at the scene after B.N Singh is done with his histrionics. Jha, who makes his acting debut with the film, gives his character more importance than it deserves. As a result, Priyanka (already suffering from an ill-defined role) is sidelined and despite getting a few crucial scenes to show her mettle as an actor, fails to turn Abha into a memorable character.
Priyanka Chopra shines in every frame she appears in. She performs the action scenes with panache. Unfortunately, the talented actress is let down by a poorly written role. Even though she is the protagonist, you do not think about the character after watching the film. Though Prakash Jha gets a little indulgent and puts the focus on his character, his performance is unputdownable. He performs some of the most difficult scenes with remarkable ease. Manav Kaul embodies the character of Babloo Pandey and does complete justice to it. Murali Sharma is excellent in his portrayal of Munna Mardaani. Kiran Karmarkar does a good job but his character could have been established a little better. Ninad Kamath comes across as too polished to play the character of an uncouth hoodlum. Vega Tamotia is very good as Sunita. Rahul Bhat is seen in a brief role but his performance lingers in your mind. Ayush Mahesh Khedekar leaves a huge mark as Nagesh.
Though Prakash Jha’s script does not much of a novelty, his treatment holds the film together. There is nothing wrong about making films in a milieu you are familiar with and revisiting a subject which you have already explored, but you must bring something new to the table. Jha fails to do that and that is exactly what bogs the film down. Sachin Krishn’s camerawork is in sync with the mood of the film. The action sequences (Sham Kaushal) are well choreographed. The editing (Santosh Mandal) is fair. The songs, composed by Salim – Sulaiman have been smartly incorporated in the film. The background score (Salim – Sulaiman) does not excite.
If, like the director, you seek comfort in the familiar, then you should not have any problem sitting through ‘Jai Gangaajal’. However, if you are looking forward to watch a fresh story unfold in front of your eyes, this formulaic cop drama could end up disappointing you. Although the film touches upon on topical issues, a poorly sketched out protagonist and a predictable plot weigh it down.