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'Jai Gangaajal' review: Watchable for Priyanka Chopra's dazzling act!

'Jai Gangaajal' review: Watchable for Priyanka Chopra's dazzling act!

Source: Sify

By: Sonia Chopra

Friday 4 March 2016

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Movie Title

Jai Gangaajal

Director

Prakash Jha

Star Cast

Ankush Bali, Rahul Bhat, Priyanka Chopra

This is familiar territory - a small-town in Bihar ruled by the local politician/ruffian, villains with quaint names and quasi-comedic broken English, an honest cop who descends to clean the system, some serious dialogue-baazi and the melodramatic finale. But despite being predictable, it's still fun.

The twist being that the hero is Bankipur district's first female SP Abha Mathur (Priyanka Chopra)- a tough-talking, sensible cop who leads from the front, and knows how to inspire loyalty among her force. Her all-male team, confused on how to address her begins with the hesitant 'sir', finally settling down to calling her 'madam-sir'.

Her face-off with B.N. Singh (Prakash Jha), her junior, does not go well, as she is aware of his links with Babloo Pandey and his brother Dabloo Pandey, the local politician family that is involved with various crimes.

The bone of contention here is land - the villagers are refusing to sell it, and the politicos wanting it at any cost as they are invested in a multi-crore project to be set up by an industrial giant. That leads to bullying tactics by the ruffians with Abha Mathur standing up against them. Things reach to a head when the villains take extreme steps, which leads to a further turn of events. Several issues like the politician-criminal-cop nexus, farmer suicides, mob-fury, and exploitation are touched upon.

Writer-director-producer-actor Prakash Jha is in no mood to mellow things down. Every development, every dialogue, every action happens with a dramatic tinge. For example, if we see Abha Mathur deal with a crowd of ruffians, it has to be done in that larger-than-life way with her holding the baton and hitting them in slow-mo, inspiring her juniors to also join in, and ending with applause from the junta. It's a sensational way of showing things, but why not? You're involved and gripped in the drama more often than not! Things do get a tad over-the-top with the involvement of a child character.

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Jha brings in some obvious but effective symbolism by placing two corrupt politicians in a room that has Mahatma and Nehru's painting in the backdrop. He adds in token characters like that of an activist clad in spiffy kurtas (Rahul Bhat), devoid of much substance.

For all its admirable feminism, the film is perplexingly ridden with dialogue that has to do with being a man. For example, when a junior office is inspired seeing Abha Mathur take on hooligans single-handedly, he says something to the effect of 'You've made me a man today' (whatever that means). At another time, Abha Mathur calls the villain "na-mard". Avoidable, much?The dialogue has the villains speak broken, strange English - 'gentlemen log', 'my dear welcome', and 'Bankipur feeling lucky'. And there is enough jingoism with dialogue about the vardi (uniform) and all.

Priyanka Chopra shines as the indefatigable "madam-sir" who is as adept at hand-to-hand combat, as she is in delivering fiery dialogue about "kartavya" and "kanoon" (duty, law & order). She makes her character multi-textured - one that is as tough as it is sensitive. And despite the melodramatic shenanigans of the script and characterization, Chopra has us completely invested in her character and often at the edge of our seat.

Prakash Jha is superb as the cop who is content being corrupt till Abha Mathur inspires him to do better. Manav Kaul is delightfully menacing and makes for a formidable villain. Ninad Kamat plays power-hung W Pandey wonderfully, and Murli Sharma is fabulous as Munna Mardaani, who ruthlessly beats up people, but weeps when he sees his boss defeated. The rest of the supporting cast does well.

The film is a comment on honest officials vs. ruffian politics in mofussil India, but then we've seen this so many times before. What sets the film apart is Jha's sure-footed storytelling (though he sticks to his tried-and-tested formula) and Priyanka Chopra's dazzling performance. This one straddles the two worlds of being a reasonably accomplished film as well as a crowd-pleaser.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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