A good friend called up very excitedly about 10 days back raving about JAL. The trailers were also cut to perfection and I was indeed intrigued about figuring out what this movie is all about. It had Purab Kohli, Tannishtha Chatterjee and Kirti Kulhari – all of whom I believe are wonderful actors. The support cast was also up there.
What then was the reason that JAL turned out to be such a horrendous movie that on the way out, Prarthana tells me, “You know what, lets watch Captain America today itself. I need to wash out the horrid taste of the previous movie”. Now it wasn’t as horrid as she claimed it was but it was a really bad movie alright.
Jal attempts to tell a story about a Water Diviner (Paani Ka Devta) called Bakka (Purab Kohli). First time director Girish Malik definitely had the right intent in mind. No one has even made a full length feature on the perennially drought affected region to our West. Movies has been set in Kutch but not made about the region.
But the goofs and the gaping holes that litter the movie are too huge to go unnoticed. To begin with, Bakka, a Water Diviner, has a success ratio of 60% in finding water. He has been a water diviner for all his life but it has never occurred to him that he should prioritize his village over the other places that he has helped find water.
In fact, the villagers are also so daft that they don’t bother to move to a location closer to any of the 60% places that Bakka has found water but insist on staying put where they are. There is of course the angle of the rival village which has a rogue called Puniya (Mukul Dev). This village has water but our heroes will not make peace with them.
A third angle is one where Bakka is totally smitten by Kesar (Kirti Kulhari) who is the daughter of the rival village’s chieftan. To complicate things further, our hero has grown up with Kajri (Tannisththa Chatterjee). Kajri dotes over Bakka like there is no tomorrow – knowing fully well that there is no hope for her.
Of course the main story is based on a bunch of foreigners led by Richard (Gary Richardson) and Kim (Saidah Jules) who are there to save the flamingoes from extinction. They pay good money to get a water tank made but refuse to help the dying villagers. A front page cover on an international magazine is worth more right?
Jal fails on a count a minute. It portrays foreigners to be daft – a stereotype that I have almost had enough of. It picks a horrendous bunch of them to play the roles as well – although the roles are pivotal. It moves away from the core story to unnecessary sexuality both from Kim as well as Kesar and Kajri.
It forces an accent that seems more Rajasthani than Kutchhi. I am not resident expert but just by saying, “Gando thai gayo” (which is probably not even Kutchhi), one doesn’t become Kutchhi. The phrase, however, is in vogue thanks to some Gujjabi movies in the recent past.
The dialogues are tacky and done convey the intensity of the problem. The entire narration and the final cut seems patchy – almost like a really bad collage. The performances of the support cast is solid but the lead cast falters miserably. And to make matters worse – it just doesn’t end!!!! 2 on 10 for what could have been a great attempt.
Watch the trailer on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNNEXQ-YcV8