The trailer of Jai Gangaajal is out and everyone must have seen it by now. So, here are a few thoughts on Prakash Jha’s films and the trailer itself.
Prakash Jha was a part of parallel cinema in the distant, nearly forgotten past. In between he went through many transformation and turned into something different and frankly a bit confusing. Now as the trailer of his latest film is out, let me have a look at his rollercoaster ride in the industry.
Jha’s first film was Hip Hip Hurray but he achieved more critical acclaim through Damul that explored the issues of bonded labour. These were of course the kind of films that are dismissed as “art films” by hardcore Bollywood operators. So, he even made an effort to change it by recruiting Madhuri Dikshit in Mrityudand, who gained critical acclaim but financial success still eluded him and he almost disappeared from the scene for a while.
However, his fortunes changed in 2003 when a little film called Gangaajal came out without much fanfare but became a surprise hit. With Gangaajal, he had got the blend perfectly right. It was gritty and violent unlike most films of those times. But the realism was shunned at convenient moments to include crowd pleasing heroism. More importantly it a saleable, bona fide Bollywood star in the lead.
Success of this film led to Apaharan which was less compact but was saved by a scintillating turn as villain by Nana Patekar. With the new found commercial cloud he then roped in an all-star cast for Rajneeti, one of the biggest hits of 2010 but he also reached the saturation point with the formula of making deceptively deep looking entertainers which were actually pretty simplistic exploitations of the events taking place around us. The result was a serious of huge critical and commercial disappointments after that. What is worse s that with a film on kidnap called Apaharan, on politics called Rajneeti, on reservation called Arakshan and on the ant-corruption movement called Satyagrah, thus making one wonder if he has just become a left wing Madhur Bhandarkar.
Sadly, the trailer of Jai Gangaajal offers no reason to expect anything else. However, it might just deliver a hit for Jha which he desperately needs. It will probably benefit from the popularity of Gangaajal. Jha has declared that it is not a sequel of that film but yet he has kept the name, because just like the Bhatts (of those unrelated Murder, Jannat and Raaz films) he has realized the importance of using an already successful brand name. Also, he has Priyanka Chopra in the lead, who is going through the strongest phase of her career.
But in spite of all these, Jai Gangaajal looks more or less the same as its predecessor. Priyanka looks convincing as the cop. There is theatre star Manav Kaul as the villain and a host of lesser known character actors who fit the bill perfectly. But the whole story and looks almost the same as Gangaajal. There is an upright IPS officer, a female this time for a change but that is about it. There are political villains (Like Sadhu and Sundar Yadav in the original one). There is also another cop who is a slave to the goons but gets reformed and takes them on (Like Bachcha Yadav in the original one). There is a girl tormented and killed or driven to suicide by the goons (again like the previous film). No, I am not giving away spoilers. They are giving this away themselves in the 3 minute long trailer. So, overall, Jha is partially right, it is not a sequel… but it is more like a remake! Watch the trailer if you do not believe me.