Jal (2014) *HQ*

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Jal revolves around a young man named Bakka (Purab Kohli), who is gifted with a special ability to find water in the desert. With the backdrop of water scarcity, the film tells a complex and intriguing story of love, relationships, enmity, deceit and circumstances that bring about the dark side of human character. Jal is a high-octane, action-drama with a shocking climax. Shot on an epic scale, the film is a visual treat and has managed to capture Rann of Kutch like never before.

An attention-grabbing premise, JAL encapsulates varied emotions and human traits in its narrative, besides highlighting the all-pertinent issue of water scarcity. Girish Malik, who makes his big screen directorial debut with this film, wastes no time to introduce his characters and the problems they face, creating a tale that packs fact and fiction wonderfully. Aiding Girish in creating a stunning canvas on screen is the DoP [Sunita Radia], who captures the parched land brilliantly on celluloid.

The story unravels slowly initially, gathering speed only towards the post-interval portions. The serpentine turn of events, the captivating drama and the episodes leading to the culmination are enthralling and camouflage the minor aberrations that you encounter at times.

With the kind of opulence and magnificence director Girish Malik puts on display in JAL, the film doesn’t come across as one made by a debutant. His command over the subject matter and the craft is incredible. The connect with the issue is tremendous as the film rakes up ecological and environmental issues, besides drawing your attention to the natives and the location. You ought to have abundant courage to choose a subject that defies the stereotype and for that alone, Girish needs a pat on his back.

One has witnessed the Rann of Kutch in several movies, but the director and DoP make sure they paint a spectacular image on canvas. The dehydrated land, the scorching heat, the desiccated stretch, the twisters leave you awestruck. Another aspect that deserves brownie points is the background score, which enhances the dramatic and emotional impact of the movie.

Hiccups? Like I pointed earlier, the story takes it own time to unravel initially. In addition, the slow pacing [first half] as well as the run time [slightly above 2 hours] could’ve been shortened for a hammer-strong impact. However, these are passing clouds in an otherwise sunny film.

It’s hard to to take your eyes off the actors, since each and every act in JAL is natural to the core. The effort is all the more laudable since the actors must’ve worked in extreme conditions, faced dust storms, yet attained the level of perfection that’s rare. Purab Kohli, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Kirti Kulhari, Mukul Dev, Yashpal Sharma, Ravi Gossain, Rahul Singh, Gary Richardson and Saidah Jules, each actor slips into his/her part effortlessly. The septuagenarian, Habib Azmi, brings about the much-needed humor with a class act.

On the whole, JAL makes a rock-solid impact. It’s poignant and powerful and I suggest, you take time out to watch this truly gripping fare.

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