Madhur Bhadarkar…A Gem!
The filmmaker, who is wedded to reality in terms of cinema, turns his attention from bars girls, page 3 people, traffic lights and fashion grime to the sordid interiors of Indian jails.
Kudos to Bhandarkar for taking an ekdum different take on the notorious Indian jail. While he does not fail to depict the grime and the horror of the jail experience, he doesn't fall into the trap of delineating it in clichéd terms. Almost all the characters are given a human face, despite their crimes.
Madhur had tried to shown up the real life person’s story in film. There's an astrologer, a poet, a bhai and his clan, a bookie, a man who accidentally kills his wife's ex-lover, and also Joe D'souza, whose character is based on Alistair Pereira – the guy who ran over pedestrians in Mumbai after a pub crawl. The character of Ghosh, an award-winning human rights activist and medical doctor who is implicated as a Naxalite, is based on Dr Binayak Sen. I still remember one of his dialogues “'when the Government gives rewards like this, then all the rest awards doesn’t count anything.' But it seems Madhur have been hurriedly thrown in, in between shots, just as a reminder or a me-too feel like for all the prisoners. But still a good watch.
What is good about Jail is that it deals with human behaviour in a non-filmy manner, at each step showing Parag reacting to situations just like a man of his character would in real-life. Whether it's his refusal to take the bhai's help first, and then taking it; wanting to run away one day and to commit suicide on the other, or asking his girlfriend to move on – all are natural reactions. Even I liked the first sequence where he is made to undress before being packed to prison is quite telling about the inhuman face of the law.
Homosexuality has also been subtly shown – something common in prisons and also a common factor in Madhur Bhandarkar’s films.
But sadly, there are no real highs or lows in the film. The only high point I thought is when Parag refuses to run away even when he has a good chance to. Really something hard hitting where Madhur tried to convey that it’s better to live life in Jail rather in life of fearness to catch away or to shoot away from Police, and lastly, a ray hope inside that “Still I can be released officially”.
Madhur Bhandarkar has taken upon himself to sensitize his audience to the plight of the people who live in a world we know exists and choose to ignore. He does so in a matter-of-fact tone. He doesn't sermonize, he doesn't glamorize. He just opens the door and ironically lets it be so. And that’s what real impressive by Madhur.
The jail portions are really realistic and one knows that Madhur has shot in actual jails. The research that he may have done for this film, all comes out in the detailed portrayal of life in prison that is shown in Jail. Madhur has to be congratulated on this and also about the different types of characters that people in the jail and their individual stories. The film has been well shot.
Bhandarkar’s direction is impressive as one is able to not only see but feel the inside the depth of his every story.
Rating: 5 / 5 for Madhur & 3 / 5 for the overall film.