Chandni Bar, Satta, Page 3, and Traffic Signal: National Award winners. Fashion became one of the most coveted films of 2009 making Madhur Bhandakar one of India’s most socially conscious, reliable directors. And just when you think he couldn’t find any more blemishes in various structures in India, the director is back in 2009 with Jail. The film starring Neil Nitin Mukesh, Mugdha Godse and Manoj Bajpai was expected to reveal defects within the jail system in India. The film promised to expose a flawed system filled with holes just as Bhandarkar’s films have done in the past. With Neil Nitin Mukesh taking center stage in this drama, the film came under the keen eyes of viewers when a few too many explicit scenes were said to have been filmed for the movie which included a nude expose scene by the main protagonist. Back with a bang, the film is said to be involving and hard-hitting, which is pretty much the norm with Bhandarkar films. Check out to see if the director manages to meet his own expectations or not.
Jail follows the story of Parag Desai (Neil Nitin Mukesh). The young business executive is living the high life along with girlfriend Mansi (Mugdha Godse) when he is falsely accused in a crime that lands him straight in jail. The rest of the plot portrays his life through prison, his friendship with the inmates, including one Nawab (Manoj Bajpai) and experiences that are bound to change him for life. He is eventually deemed innocent after a tiresome trial but is forever a changed man, needless to say.
As a film, Jail is interesting. However, this cannot be deemed as one of Bhandarkar’s best. In fact, it doesn’t even figure in his top three. The plot is believable and incredibly involving to a certain point. There are many areas in the film that become extremely tedious – the Desai court proceedings work well as a bathroom break. Much like all of Bhandakar’s previous films, which are directed at particular audiences because of its content and perhaps even cynicism, Jail is the same. However, the audience is even narrower with Jail because its story is limiting. That said, there are some engaging moments in the film which not only have you shocked but have been executed with great finesse – especially when Neil is thrown into solitude. But that is pretty much it. Honestly, Jail is just another one of Bhandarkar’s lecturish type of film which is filled with cynicism of an industry. At points through the film you begin to believe that Bhandarkar considers his audiences to be complete fools. Most of the cinemagoers are completely aware of the negative doings that occur in a jail and yet we are made to watch a complete film dedicated to that very subject. One can only guess the next trade or industry Bhandarkar will attack and expose next.
Performance wise, Neil Nitin Mukesh tries hard as the innocent victim who is forced to shed himself of his sheltered ways for a totally different world. That said he does put on the same puppy-face throughout the film without twitching an eyelid; awfully boring and expressionless at some points. Mugdha Godse is average in her post-Fashion de-glam avatar. Manoj Bajpai does well however as do the rest of the star cast.
Jail is no Page 3 nor is it a Satta. In fact, it doesn’t come close to any of Bhandarkar’s earlier films which were more story based and had no glam quotient attached to it. It is that very Bhandarkar that audiences prefer over his gibberish. You’re better off catching Ranbir Kapoor’s Ajab Prem Ki Gazab Kahani instead of Neil Nitin Mukesh’s Jail.