Movie Review: Jal

Jal starts on the wrong foot with its very first scene. Take that scene away and knock off another 15 minutes, and Girish Malik would have had an Award Winner on his hands. But in his attempt to magnify the plot, Girish ends up taking away the sting of the climax.

Also, the climax is so painfully built-up that by the time the film reaches there [as a viewer] you have exhausted you ‘mental stay’ at the movie.

Jal is all about ironies. It is also about Bakka (Purab Kohli) a water diviner who knows exactly where one should dig in the desert of Rann in Kutch. A group of foreigners are drawn towards this desert because flamingoes are dying. A detailed study proves that it is because of the salty water. They bring in huge funds and government machinery to dig wells.

However, they are unable to get water until they turn to Bakka who helps them to the right spot, all the time. Soon the desert is filled with good water for the flamingoes. But is there enough for the villagers?

When the villagers urge Bakka to request the goras for their machinery to dig wells for themselves, they turn a deaf ear. Water for birds, but none for humans!

Through all this Bakka, falls in love with Kesar (Kirti Kulhari) from a neighbouring village who they are at loggerheads with. Kajri (Tannishtha Chatterjee) who hopes one day she will win the heart of Bakka, and in whose house Bakka has grown up, is forlorn.

Since the goras are not willing to lend their machinery and the Indian officials helping them (the goras) are not interested in the plight of the villagers, Bakka and his friend, decided to rob the machinery for two days in consultation with the official who has agreed for part of the gold which the villagers have brought forth.

The machine breaks, the gold is stolen and Bakka’s friend is murdered. The blame falls on Bakka. He and his pregnant wife are thrown out of his village. They are also not accepted by her village. They have to live on a ration of one jug of water per day on the outskirts.

That is another irony; the man who gave water is left without a drop. But the biggest irony is when a heavily pregnant Kesar is thirsting and Bakka is digging furiously, the well explodes with water and the skies open up with rain.

But is it too late?

Jal is a visual delight. The dry, arid land is captured well. So also is the basic premise. But what lacks punch are the two Indian officials whose character graph makes no sense. Ditto the ‘bland acting’ of the gora who behaves like a five-year-old who just had a fight with his friend.

Purab has the capacity to get into the skin of whichever character is given to him. As Bakka, he walks the talk. Tannishtha Chatterjee is let down with not much life in the character of Kajri.

Kirti as Kesar has much more meat in her character and she delivers in style. Her desert diction of ‘Gujarati-Hindi’ as well as her overall body language and attire is spot-on. After Sooper Se Ooper and Rise of The Zombie she stamps her class with another fine performance. To be honest, she scorches like the desert heat!

Jal is a classic example of how to waste a wonderful concept.

Rating: 2.5 / 5

Martin D’Souza

This first appeared on on April 04, 2014

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