Jai Gangajal is not a perfect film by any means. It’s stretches far too much and the villains are caricatures of the typical North Indian goons and politicians we’ve seen in many movies. But, it has Priyanka Chopra, playing the desi Alex Parrish and a surprisingly competent Prakash Jha starring in it and that somewhat makes Jai Gangajal pretty watchable. The story is is similar to most of the socio-political dramas we’ve seen in Bollywood, with a corrupt cop changing his ways after a disturbing event takes place in his/her life. Priyanka Chopra is subdued as the SP of Bankipur district, but the moment she picks up the ‘danda‘ to beat up some goons, you immediately root for this educated woman who wants to make a change but doesn’t believe in mob justice.
The story and screenplay by Prakash Jha is average. The background score was sometimes jarring, except the one time where Murli Sharma‘s ringtone/callertune is used hilariously in an otherwise gory scene. An assault which takes place in a bus chillingly reminded me of the Nirbhaya case and I think that’s what the makers were aiming for. Talking about Murli Sharma, he has done an alright job as the sexually ambiguous right hand man of the villain. Ninad Kamat hammed it up as the murderer and rapist Dabloo Babu and Rahul Bhatt was wasted in a role where he’s only required to randomly shout at Priyanka. There are nice touches though, like a man dressed as a woman and dancing to what sounds like an item number in the background (this happens a lot in the North, the artists’s name is Queen Harish, I looked it up). The fight scenes dragged on a bit, but as I said, watching PC kick some solid ass was fun to watch. Vega Tamotia was spirited in her small but important role, and Prakash Jha was good enough to not make Jai Gangajal seem like a vanity project. The music by Salim-Sulaiman was forgettable.
All in all, Jai Gangajal is an earnest attempt to bring attention to the farmer suicides and the terror of the land mafia in states like Madhya Pradesh (and U.P and Bihar), but it has been far too simplified so that the movie is suitable for public consumption. Priyanka’s Abha Mathur tries hard to be the feminist superhero our country needs, but it just doesn’t feel good enough.