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Jail movie review

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Cast Neil Nitin Mukesh, Mugdha Godse, Manoj Bajpai, Arya Babbar    more...
Director Madhur Bhandarkar
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The Jail Movie Review

Worth a visit
By Naresh Kumar Deoshi
Rating: 2.5/5

By Naresh Kumar

Reality Bites! And director Madhur Bhandarkar has been repeatedly pinching us with his ‘realistic’ potshots at different faces of our modern society - from the glitzy ramps of Fashion to the sleazy pubs of Chandni Bar. Now, with Jail, the director saunters behind the barbed fence to provide us a peek into the lives of the people we call ‘criminals’.

As Morgan Freeman’s character said in ‘Shawshank Redemption’, “we’re all innocent in here”. So is Parag Dixit (Neil Nitin Mukesh), a handsome yuppie who’s thrown inside a prison based on the circumstantial evidence that implicates him for possession of drugs. Parag had a promising career and a loving girlfriend (Mugdha Godse) before his smooth-sailing life was turned turtle on a fateful day when he gave lift to his roommate who secretly carried drugs in his bag. The mobile phone records and the bloody shootout with police make for substantial evidence against Parag. He’s thrown inside Thane jail till his case could come up for hearing in the courts.

From thereon, Bhandarkar begins to delineate various character sketches inside the squalid, smelly, sweaty and overcrowded prison barracks.

There’s a convict named Kabir (Arya Babbar) with links to the underworld. He keeps an eye open to recruit possible shooters for his ‘Bhai’ outside. There’s Nawab (Manoj Bajpai), a butcher serving a sentence for murder. He’s on good terms with everyone, including the jail authorities, and emerges a comforter for Parag. On the sidelines are typical characters that seem plucked out of newspaper headlines. There’s a guy who’s behind bars for mowing down people with his car. There’s another one, a social activist, cooped up inside the jail for showing sympathy for Naxals. There’s also a poetry reciting inmate Ghalib, who manages to pull off a daring escape.

But it’s Neil’s character that remains the unshifting focus of the story. Through his ordeal, Bhandarkar not just mirrors the harsh reality inside a prison but also attempts to make a statement at the country’s judicial system where the speed of justice dispensation can put a snail to shame.

The movie would not have worked had the role been entrusted to wrong hands. Neil digs his teeth well into his character and brings a mix of seething angst, cathartic outbursts and hopeless resignation against his situation. Both Arya Babbar and Manoj Bajpai cut neat performances while Mugdha Godse underplays her character quite evidently.

What’s souring in this slice-of-life drama is that it eventually comes pretty close to being a collage of clichés to be expected from a film of this genre. It hardly tells anything which any newspaper reading person already did not know. The system is rotten. Hell, yes it is! The authorities are corrupt. You bet! The judicial system is slow. We all know it. So what’s new in ‘Jail’? Pretty little except a soul-soothing number by Lata Mangeshkar. Her magic hasn’t waned after all these years.

Rating: 5/10

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