Girish Malik’s much-touted cinematic bravura is a piece of work that will impress you only visually. The drab plot and the tragedy of epic proportion will leave you profoundly confused-to the extent that you will wonder in the end if this movie was over hyped beyond description!
Girish Malik’s Jal might have been mounted as a visually delightful experimental cinema with the adequate flavours of a masala entertainer, but in reality it is just a complex ( and complicated) montage of stunningly shot visuals that will leave your head numb (read: barren).
Certainly not crafted for an average movie goer, this drama-set against the backdrop of the parched and barren landscape of Rann of Kutch-unfolds in the form of disjointed frames and highly dramatic sequences that will draw big yawns from you. If the first half forces you to search for a definite plot in the fragmented narrative, the second half slips into a tragedy of epic proportion. Throughout this butt-numbing watch though certain things stay consistent-sincere performances from the actors, brilliant cinematography and a story-line that remains as barren as the never-ending land of Rann of Kutch.
Jal is set in a small village in Kutch where water is more precious than life itself. A young orphan boy called Bakka (Purab Kohli) lives here in his friend Rakala and his sister Kajri’s house. Labelled as the god of water, he is the one who tries to find out where villagers dig to find water. The neighbouring village, on the other hand, is well off in that sense, and also because it houses the village head’s daughter Kesar (Kirti Kulhari), for whom Bakka has a liking. Adding another dimension to the story is Russian ornithologist Kim, played by German-origin heroine Saidah Jules, who is trying real hard to emote, by the way.
The firang lady enters the picture errr..in the Rann to examine the mysterious dwindling of the number of flamingos migrating there. The narrative is then weaved around-very strangely,at times rather comically- around how water-as a resource -drive the hunger for power and political equations in the region. The film then tries to extract both the macro and micro layers of basic human emotions. You will see a good amalgamation of love, greed, honesty and brutality injected into the story. But one words that can capture the essence of the movie is tragedy. To reveal much about the plot of this dark drama is equivalent to making an attempt to butcher the tool of storytelling that director Malik has employed.
As for the performances Purab Kohli has delivered the finest performance of his career, after Rock On!! Kirti Kulhari is promising with her sincerity, while Tannishtha Chatterjee arrests you attention with her range of expressions. All in all Jal is a stunning looking movie that fails spectacularly at telling an engaging story!
Reviewed by Prathamesh Jadhav
**** Very good