In her first Bollywood movie since the blockbuster Bajirao Mastani, Priyanka Chopra’s too-sophisticated unmade-up-make-up is very distracting, even in her few convincing moments.
Prakash Jha’s crime and corruption thriller Jai Gangaajal isn’t half the film that the original Gangaajal was.
Jai Gangaajal isn’t strictly a sequel because neither its characters nor its plot take off from where the previous film left.
Jai Gangaajal goes beyond the issue of policing and straddles several other themes land acquisition, agrarian distress, political skullduggery and systemic corruption. As a result, the film seems at times to have chewed off more than it can digest.
The only real point of interest in Jai Gangaajal is the presence of Priyanka Chopra, who is of late flying high internationally. For her fans, this film is a chance to check out how good she is as an action star.
As the take-charge-policewoman-in-a-tough-posting, Priyanka Chopra comes off as dressed-for-the-part and stilted. You can see she’s trying hard, especially in some of the ‘action’ sequences in which she has to kick and punch and thrash, but she’s far too smooth for this part.
Everything else in this sequel of ‘Gangaajal’, which replaces the khaki-clad Ajay Devgn with Priyanka Chopra, and pouring acid in the eye with a hanging from the nearest tree/post/fan, falls strictly in the seen-before-category. Bankipur, a village over- run by greedy politicians, ‘bikey-huey-cops’, and self-serving locals, could be any Jha ‘gaon’ from his previous films.
The detailing is just a little different—an effeminate ‘chamcha’ (Sharma), a young girl refusing to give up her patch of land (Tamotia), a podgy baddie in colourful shirts (Kamath; nice to see him in a substantial role)—but overall, this is Jha’s much-traversed universe, in which the lawless rule and the law is an ass, till the hero (or in this instance, the heroine) shows up to clean up the mess.
The villains, called Babloo Bhaiyya (Kaul, who’s making it a habit of playing evil pols), and his ‘chota bhai’ Dabloo Bhaiyya, are in cahoots with powerful land-grabbers and goons. Dabloo Pandey (Ninad Kamat) who is desperate to acquire all the land in the area for a mega power project. But the local people are against selling their plots.
But they do not stand a chance against the strong-arm tactics of the two ruthless brothers, who have an ally in a corrupt cop Bhola Nath Singh (Prakash Jha).
The no-nonsense Abha Mathur proceeds to assert her presence in Bankipur, which puts her on a direct collision course not only with the politician, but also with elements in the police force.
One actor who is head and shoulders above the rest of the cast is Manav Kaul. But the character that he plays is reduced to a standard Bollywood villain who, at the slightest provocation, flies off the handle and spouts angry lines of little import.
Prakash Jha gives himself a great deal to do as an actor. He manages to stay on top of the character of the scheming policeman who has a change of heart when one of his many indiscretions boomerangs on him.
Jai Gangaajal has its moments, but these are too few and far between to dispel the impression that all the drama that the film unleashes is an exercise in futility because none of it is remotely original.
It seeks to attain epic proportions but only manages to be a disappointing misfire. Jai Gangaajal is only for Priyanka Chopra fans.