What’s It About
Parag Dixit is living a dream life with a great job and his loving girlfriend Maansi. However, things take an ugly turn when, after a series of unfortunate events, he suddenly wakes up in jail; handcuffed and randomly beaten up by the cops. Parag is perplexed and finds himself in a place completely in contrast to his utopian life. He tries hard to turn away from the ugly truth and is hopeful that it is just a matter of few days, but soon succumbs to the prison anarchy and his fate. The only salvation he finds is in Nawaab, a convict and a warden, who believes that Parag is innocent. Soon he discovers the inner mechanisms and the science responsible for the wretched status inside the prison and hordes of broken hearts and shattered souls which managed to find comfort amidst the four prison walls. He is left with a choice to either live a life that is controlled and exploited or fight against the system.
The emphasis in Jail is more on the life of a jail than the story of a falsely implicated youth. It is as if, the filmmaker has sentenced the hero to imprisonment till he is through with exploring the life within an Indian jail. The romance element is not well picturised so one is not moved even during one of the most intense scenes where Parag asks Maansi to leave him as there is no hope for him and, in response she tears her job appointment letter to convey she will always be on his side, waiting for his release. Among various types of inmates in the jail, the character of Ghalib is used as a narrator and his shaayri on the various situations is a nice touch. The much hyped nude scene is blurred and seems unnecessary.
Neil Nitin Mukesh acts very well and looks adequate as a man at sea with his surroundings and situations. Manoj Bajpai underplays his character with excellence, letting his eyes and expressions do the talking. Another actor who deserves a mention is Rahul Singh (portraying the character of Abdul Ghani). With his brilliant performance he leaves a deep impact. Arya Babbar also fits his character well. Mugdha Godse neither has a screen presence, nor does she act well.
The beginning is Felon (2008) leading to The Shawshank Redemption (1994).
The establishing shot of jail is not very impressive and it is used many times to symbolise ending of one day or beginning of another one. There are many close up shots of Neil Nitin Mukesh to showcase his plight. So on the whole, the cinematography is okay. The film needs some trimming, especially in the first half. As far as the music is concerned, the song which is sung by the legend herself, Lata Mangeshkar, is worth a mention. In fact, it should have been used much often to good effect. The background music is just passable. The item number by Sayali Bhagat is just used as a backdrop for a vital scene.
Madhur Bhandarkar films have always been thought-provoking, but this one is different. It is his first film which ends on a positive note and teaches never to leave a righteous path because that only leads to victory in real sense. But instead of using the jail as a backdrop, he uses it as a foreground which leads to a weak plot. Like his earlier films which showcase some revealing truths of a particular section of society (like bar dancer’s life in Chandni Bar or a model’s life in Fashion) this one has scenes with which a viewer is already familiar. Nagesh Kukunoor had earlier made 3 Deewarein (2003) which also gave an insight into a jail life.
Jail has limited appeal for city audience and for those who have come to appreciate Madhur Bhandarkar kind of films.