The “Jaal” of Jai Gangaajal

Jai Gangaajal the last release of Prakash Jha the man of many hats in this project, produces one more in the line of movies that try really hard to take a stance on an issue but end up being a farce.

I don’t really get the appeal of going into topics only to belabor a simple point in a mostly haphazard manner but that is all one sees Prakash Jha doing most of the times with his “social issue” based movies. I recently watched Jai Gangaajal his latest, which is considered a spiritual successor of Gangaajal as both movies deal with the same story with a few things shuffled around to make things look slightly more current.

As I watched and re-watched both movies respectively, I find that both the movies carry a similar set of plot points with minor deviations, the main protagonists in both the case are propagating against retributive justice, although in Gangaajal the main protagonist “accidentally” does kill the culprits but that is after a long drawn out exposition trying to explain why retributive justice is bad and the end voice over telling that he had to live with his reality after all was said and done.

Let’s deviate for a moment to look at what is meant by retributive justice, it’s when you appeal to the baser notion of an eye for an eye especially in cases that are in the extreme like murder. That is you appeal for one life for another, there is no scope for improvement and this is the final solution. There are other theories of justice but we’re not concerned with them and this makeshift definition should do the trick for our purpose. Jha tries to startle the line, although it barely looks like there is a line between revenge and law. Things that happen to the poor seem to be very predictable from the get go, the term “suicide” gets thrown around like candy, people die and live at the whim of the writer without much effect in the society.

There are usually the part which propagates mob justice and retribution and the other its exact polar opposite which ends up creating overall confusion throughout. Punchline at the end leaves pretty much everything the film that was preached till then as inconsequential. After pulling out all my hair I thought to myself that Jha would have something to say about this, but I couldn’t find a single interview that point blank asked him what his stance was on retributive justice was. People where either praising the movie or praising the aesthetic setup. Considering his movies aesthetic seems to be stuck in a bygone era of film making this is surprising thing to laud. Be it the melodramatic scoring or shoehorned comic relief, I can’t make sense of what the authorial intent here is.

Overall from what little I could gather it seemed that his voice was the end note exposition where the protagonist is trying to deter people from committing retributive act of mob lynching in the first film or in the second film where the main protagonist literally unties the noose from the villain’s neck. One still doubts this though, considering Jha goes as far as to play the dirty cop in this one there is essentially no depth to this character. A slime ball that gets a second chance to reclaim his past glory but what movie fails to do is build any back story for the man nether do we get why the main protagonist allows this character to be redeemed in a manner. In the first movie there is a similar character which gets killed, that character at least has some sort of arch, there is an established past where he was actually good and why he deserved a chance at redemption and is subsequently redeemed by his action while the character played by Jha just gets mad one day and his character just turns around and starts shooting at people he was buddy-buddy with till the other day. Even with suspension of disbelief on my part, this doesn’t really explain the overall build towards the retributive end and the unbelievable subversion of what was building up to be death of the antagonist.

I think most people have went as far as to conspire that this film was only made so that Jha could get to act. I mean seriously the main protagonist isn’t even present in half the movie. I guess that’s what Jha wanted perhaps, subversion in a very deadpan and illogical manner. It’s as if he’s trying to tell us that having expectation is the sin that we all commit, don’t believe the hype.

At the end of it all it is just another inconclusive Jha movie, which only try’s to say something but fails to pack an impact in the most bombastic manner. Jha should stop directing and focus on his acting career, although it was an empty character, Jha wasn’t actually that bad.

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