On the one hand, Bollywood has trashy stories under the garb of candy-floss filmmaking made by loaded filmmakers, while interesting tales are lost in the filmmaker’s inability to push the film forward. And then there is a third kind too. It consists of films like Jal which has a good script, good actors, great technical support and a PR overdrive. To some extent, all this amounts to an impressive watch, and yet a ‘but’ comes in the way.
Director: Girish Malik
Actors: Purab Kohli, Kirti Kulhar, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Saidah Jules, Ravi Gossain, Yashpal Sharma, Mukul Dev
Music: Sonu Nigam and Bikram Ghosh
Set in the harsh landscape of the Rann of Kutch, Bakka (Purab Kohli) is the local water diviner, someone who searches for water through his unique method, a water quack. Along with him, you meet his fellow villagers – Kajri (Tannishtha Chatterjee), her brother and Bakka’s friend Rakla (Ravi Gossain), middleman Ghani (Yashpal Sharma) and a whole lot of typical characters. Fights over water are common, especially with the neighbouring village where there is ample of water, apart from the usual characters – beautiful Kesar (Kirti Kulhar) and a local ruffian (Mukul Dev). Kim (Saidah Jules) from Russia arrives to Rann to study the flamingos who are dying due to rising salt levels in the water. So she needs to dig fresh water sources to enable these avian creatures to survive. After initial struggle, Bakka comes in and success follows. What follows is the mess of human emotions, along with how the important aspect of survival – water – creates trouble for all.
The trouble is not its story or the entertainment value. In fact, it is a rare film where a very good story has been given the right commercial treatment. The problem is director Girsh Malik who has co-written the screenplay with the story’s writer Rakesh Mishra, has not been able sustain the interest throughout. This is more noticed in the second half where it drags in parts. In recent times, many directors have not been able to keep the time factor in control. A dragging film is be an impediment.
And yet you want to watch the film for its pertinent subject of water scarcity and the way it can bring out the worst amongst human beings. Human greed is also an underlying theme. Girish has created a film which leaves an impact despite imperfections. The film rides on the shoulder of Purab Kohli who rises to the occasion. His Bakka is sensitive, passionate, real and it helps that he looks good in the typical Kutchi get-up. Kirti Kulhar’s Kesar is a feisty thing who is coy and sensual when needed. Their chemistry is electric. Tannishtha Chatterjee, Saidah Jules, Ravi Gossain and Yashpal Sharma are charming in their roles, but one fails to see why a talented actor like Mukul Dev is doing in this film. His villainous role has not much to support it.
The landscape of Rann of Kutch is a photographer’s paradise and one guesses cinematographer Sunita Radia is a good one too. Her ability to capture the harshness, its beauty, the colours along with the entire mood of the film is superb. The same cannot be said of the editing which is decent at most of the time. The music by Sonu Nigam and Bikram Ghosh reflects the film’s mood and backdrop well. Shubha Mudgal’s number haunts you for long.
Jal is a must-watch, though one wishes director Girish Malik could kept his eyes on the watch to create a tighter second-half. P.S: If you are trying to link it to Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s recent attempt at making a romeo-Juliet tragedy with the Kutch background, please avoid it. Jal’s reality and sensitivity is more appealing.