20 November 2009 | sniperswagat
Out Of Jeffrey Archer, On The Big Screen
With Jail, Madhur Bhandarkar continues his take on reality. This time, he looks behind the closed bars of a jail to look at the stories that reside there.
Parag Dixit (Neil Nitin Mukesh), a financial whiz- makes money by the plenty and lives life to the fullest with his air-hostess girlfriend Mansi (Mugdha Godse) in tow. Unfortunately for him, his roommate turns out to be a drug peddler and operates without his knowledge. The police catch Neil and accuse him of co-conspiring with his roommate, who lies in an ICU, in a coma.
Falling prey to the notoriously slow judicial system, Parag ends up in jail, still pending trial. How he handles this new environment, and the stories of other individuals that inhabit the world behind bars, makes up the crux of the story.
The basic premise of 'Jail' is one that can be claimed to have been lifted from a Jeffrey Archer novel, or the countless masala movies that are churned out of Bollywood every year. Where it differs is in the portrayal of the jail, forever consigned to be fairly open cells housing 1-2 prisoners, 'Jail' shows them for being what they really are. But unlike some of his earlier ventures, the exposes and the inside look ends there. There is nothing new that Madhur uncovers here: the underworld, the wrongfully-in-jail characters, the politicians holding court have all been seen before. Another problem is that the characters are too stereotypical. The good boy, the bhai's henchman, the gay couple seem out of a story and not real life. And that is where 'Jail' falters.
Madhur Bhandarkar is known for his brilliant direction that keeps us motivated to sit through potentially depressing themes and stories. While this is his least depressing venture till date, he fails to deliver the same brilliant speed and sense as always.
Neil Nitin Mukesh does a good job of portraying Parag, the man who is wrongfully incarcerated. It takes an immensely brave man to take up a role which is so challenging in nature. He's on screen for more than 90% of the screen time, going through so many different emotions, and also the much-talked about nude scene. He makes Parag believable. Kudos to Neil.
Mugdha Godse gets very less scope as Mansi, but manages to do a decent job. Manoj Bajpayee as Parag's sympathizing co-inmate is the narrator of the movie, but somehow gets only a perennially sad expression to work with. He manages to still pitch in a good performance. His performance in the flashback sequence is his high point. This has to be expected though, with the film showcasing and focusing on Neil throughout.
The music in 'Jail' is simply there to make up the numbers. Even the legendary Lata Mangeshkar's 'Daata Sun Le', though rendered as well as her songs are, could have been done without. 'Bareily ke Bazar mein' is absolutely useless placement wise and is only just bearable in terms of song quality.
Kalpesh Bhandarkar captures the jail well on screen, giving the viewer as if he's looking at a sea of humanity and brings home the gruesomeness of the jail. Nitin Desai should bag the award for the best art direction unless a Sawariya or Devdas like set comes up in the movies coming up in the next month. The jail is incredibly well etched out, right down to the wall carvings.
Final Verdict: Overall, Jail is only slightly above average. Watch it on the big screen only if you must. Wait for a TV release in my opinion.