Dir: Girish Malik
Cast: Purab Kohli, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Kirti Kulhari, Mukul Dev
While it’s easier to point fingers at the film industry for its lack of original ideas, a film on the paucity of water compels you to take notice. How often do you watch a Hindi film that addresses the subject of a basic human need? First things first, this film doesn’t stick to the formulaic notion of entertainment and secondly, it has an interesting story yarn to fall back on. The trouble, however, is maintaining the flow. That said, the film is a rarity without any doubt.
Purab Kohli and Saidah Jules in 'Jal'
Initially, you get the idea that the story is all about the fight for water in a desert but as the minutes pass, it becomes obvious that there are other elements involved. Flamingoes are dropping dead due to the heat while a worse fate awaits the protagonist. He then helps the villagers find a spot where a well can be dug. But how will he do so when he needs water more than anybody else? The screenplay clearly has its share of glaring loopholes. But the film eventually provides an answer after a good buildup.
With singer Shubha Mudgal’s magnetic voice lending a backdrop to the narrative, you can feel the thirst that is referred to in the film. The film also throws up some questions: Why are these people stuck in such a place? How have survived without food for so long? Why do the patterns of their tattoos keep changing? The sandstorm of such questions continues to assail you.
On the other hand, this cinematic endeavour’s beauty lies in its research. The characters are well fleshed out; the setting is local and the tone, real. The film is also marked by some top-notch performances. Purab Kohli charms his way through the film. Kirti Kulhari, who plays his wife, does a decent job despite her not-so-convincing baby bump.
Tannishtha Chatterjee is impressive as a jilted lover. However, the foreign actors are mere caricatures.
Whether you like this film or not, you’ll come out of the theatre feeling at least a little more privileged than usual.