I had a vague sort of expectation that Jai Gangaajal was the female version of Singham. Priyanka Chopra’s character would take a crime-ridden city/town by the scruff of the neck, shake it till all the baddies fell out, after being appropriately menacing and horrible of course, and finally the thankful former victims would fawn lovingly all over her. I also expected a love story, or that she would have a significant other, who would provide the softening touches to the story.
Well, you know what they say about assumptions.
Story: Abha Mathur (Priyanka Chopra) is given her first appointment as the SP of Bankipur district. She is replacing another SP, who attempted to course-correct some of the wrongs happening in the district, and in the police stations under his command. For his pains, he gets transferred.
Mathur is appointed with the implicit assumption that she will grease the wheels of the corrupt district, ensuring that all their plans go off without a hitch. They were wrong; she may be new but she takes a tough stance on crime.
The district is run by Bablu Pandey, the MLA, and his hot-headed brother, Dablu Pandey. As can be gathered from their unimaginative names, the brothers are equally unimaginative, animalistic thugs, with nary a thought for any other but themselves.
Review: Jai Gangaajal is an average movie. There are parts of it that are great, while others where it falls flat on its face.
Story: Like I said, my expectations were turned on their head with the story. I was expecting a strong female-driven plot, but Priyanka Chopra appears to be merely decorative figurehead. The real story is the metamorphosis of B N Singh, admirably played by Prakash Jha. Starting off as a corrupt cop, albeit with a little compassion, his gargantuan change of heart is palpable. An incident triggers his guilt in such a profound way, the man goes through a massive transformation. I personally loved this part of the story, although I do wish Abha Mathur had a meatier role.
Characters: B N Singh’s character was beautifully developed, with some many layers and shades. But that’s about it. Everyone else remains one-dimensional throughout, right from the top billed actress they’ve made the poster child of the movie, right to the easy-to-hate villains, who lack even the tiniest scrap of empathy. There was the character, Munna Mardani (Murli Sharma), who is slightly effeminate, although it isn’t explicitly said he is gay. His emotions for the Pandey duo are often expressed, and unfathomably tender. There is no motivation apparent in any of the characters’ back stories, and they are stereotypical to a yawn-inducing degree.
Acting: Prakash Jha stole this show. Well, to be fair, the man is the director and producer, so it isn’t technically stealing the limelight when it is yours to dish out in the first place. But he certainly does hog all of it. Priyanka Chopra is convincing, but looks altogether too pretty to be convincing otherwise. She is distractingly beautiful, which is amusingly pointed out in one of the scenes as a throwaway remark. The others don’t even bear mentioning.
What I liked: The extensive characterisation of B N Singh. Beautifully done. I also loved the bits where Mathur takes a long baton and beats the crap out of a molester. I may have cheered at that bit.
What I disliked: The lack of dimension in everyone else. Also, the brutality of some of scenes was crushing. I don’t know why rape always figures in these movies, and the short, but nauseating scene of a young girl, crying after being violated made me want to puke. There were too many loose ends, with several crimes and perpetrators’ fates left hanging. What happens to the other, more corrupt cop? What happens to B N Singh finally? Does the rape get prosecuted? What about the vigilantes? And so on.
The movie is enjoyable fare, but I wouldn’t watch it more than once.