Rating: 2/5 Stars (Two stars)
Star cast: Purab Kohli, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Kirti Kulhari, Saidah Jules, Mukul Dev, Yashpal Sharma, Ravi Gossain, Rahul Singh
Director: Girish Malik
What’s Good: The enthralling cinematography and Purab Kohli.
What’s Bad: The film despite being heavy on enticing looks lacks a soul.
Loo break: Some.
Watch or Not?: Though I am always open to being drawn into the realm of experimental cinema, Jal seemed more like a powerpoint presentation to me. Though for the first hour the film appears lucid and gripping, the second hour becomes bothersome and tediously long. What really destroyed the quintessence of the film is the rough and casual editing that doesn’t allow the magnanimity of scene to settle in. Jal could have been an eloquent offering but misses the tranquility that doesn’t let the drama’s tempo settle in.
Bakka (Purab Kohli) is a water God of sorts in his village, situated in Rann Of Kutch. He is blessed with the ability of finding water in the parched desert. Bakka’s life gets tumultuous when a foreigner comes to the area to closely study the life of flamingos in the area who are dying in the region due to excessive salinity in the water.
When all technology fails, the team resorts to Bakka’s divine ways of finding water. And it miraculously works! Bakka becomes an overnight star as he lands himself in a government job and marries the girl of his choice, Kesar (Kirti Kulhari).
But the foreigners’ team leaves once their job is done and though the flamingos get their share of fresh water, the villagers don’t. It eventually falls on Bakka who promises them water but can he deliver without support is what the film holds for you.
Jal Review: Script Analysis
Jal is at its crux a very uncomplicated story. Set vastly in the parched lands of Gujrat, the story as the title suggest revolves around the drama surrounding water, its presence and scarcity in the land and how it affects people. The script must have seemed tempting on paper, and definitely has all the necessary ingredients ranging from drama to romance to keep audiences going. Luckily, the story doesn’t don a garb of pseudo intellectualism in telling a rather simplistic story.
It is not the story which is the problem but probably the execution and mostly the editing of it that doesn’t score with me. The story is about Bakka who is a water God of sorts in his circles. It is the sprawling Rann Of Kutch that almost forms a perfect canvas to tell a story about how quintessential water is for the people there. In one of the opening sequences, a gang of women attack a foreigner when she drinks water from a well of an enemy village. The story doesn’t invest much in unraveling the inter or intra village dynamics.
Even Bakka’s love for Kesar comes without a backstory and hence it is baffling when in one scene she attacks him and in the next she is taking a bath with him. Even Kajri’s love for Bakka though evident from the start could have been elucidated further. Definitely it was the water scarcity and water salinity that is the prime focus of the story, but the script doesn’t tie loose-ends in terms of etching out sharp characters.
The loss of flamingos have been handled with poise surely. Though tackled very conveniently, we are obviously not to believe that the Government co-operated so smoothly in helping them get water to the lands. Even that faction of the story could have been elaborated on but the script keeps it utterly simplistic and easy without investing much in infusing any drama to it.
Jal Review: Star Performances
It is Purab Kohli who is smashing as Bakka. He nails his character, his mannerisms and displays solid conviction in his portrayal. Probably one of his real performances after My Brother Nikhil, he has stretched the contours of his acting abilities well.
Kirti Kulhari, however, lacks a fleshy role. She plays Bakka’s love interest and looks the right amount of seductive and sexy. But surely, the actress fails to get the diction correct as her Gujrati comes off with a Hariyanvi twang. Well attempted, but doesn’t reach the fullest of his potential.
Tanishtha Chatterjee is a fine actor but fails to do justice to her part as her acting is wobbly and lacks confidence.
Jal Review: Direction, Editing and Screenplay
Girish Malik’s direction is highly questionable. Though we have seen him churn out heart wrenching stories on television before, this time Malik focuses too heavily on making the lands look larger than life and misses out on building the temper of the film adequately. Probably it is not as much as Malik’s fault as much as his editing department. The scenes aren’t settled, cut absurdly almost like someone slashed them off needlessly.
On Malik’s part, the overdramatization of the climax went a little over the top. Frankly, I did not quite absorb the climax and it came across as shabbily and hastily done. It would be wrong to say that there was no steam in the story but Girish did not quite channelize it the right way.
Jal Review: The Last Word
Jal is a magnificently shot film but doesn’t quite imbibe the needful spirit. Though Purab Kohli proves his flair as an actor, the film tries its hand at being a Shakespearan Tragedy where a hero is felicitated posthumously. Unfortunately, despite the fantastic cinematography the lack of soul doesn’t quite make this an impressive fare. I am going with a 2/5.
Jal Review Trailer
Jal releases on 4th April, 2014.
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