Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Jail: Avoid this three-hour sentence
Fortunately or unfortunately, I rented a DVD of Frank Darabont’s “The Shawshank Redemption” last weekend, watching this landmark film for the umpteenth time. So when I went in to watch “Jail”, expectations were high.
Obviously, Madhur Bhandarkar’s “Jail” is not a patch on Andy and Red’s story but it doesn’t even qualify as a gripping entertainer, mainly because of a sloppy script and characters who might as well have been caricatures.
“Jail” follows Bhandarkar’s unique formula of putting the spotlight on a particular milieu (like fashion, page 3, bar girls and corporates) and exposing the “truth”.
In this case, he attempts to depict India’s justice and prison system, the corruption that prevails and the thousands who are trapped within.
Neil Nitin Mukesh plays Parag Dixit, a young, successful executive who becomes an unwitting participant in a narcotics case and is arrested. He is sent to judicial custody, despite pleas that he is innocent and begins life as an undertrial in jail.
Manoj Bajpai plays Nawab, a prisoner who befriends Parag and tries to guide him in an overcrowded, under managed jail. Most of the film is a string of incidents, with half- baked comments on the jail system, the judicial process and half-a-dozen social evils.
None of them sound convincing because Bhandarkar doesn’t make an attempt to keep the characters real.
The dialogue is over the top with examples like “the first night in jail is like the night of a bride’s wedding — no matter how much you try, you can never sleep.”
Also, none of the actors bring any conviction to their roles. Manoj Bajpai’s character could have been developed more, but he is stuck with a role that involves looking serious and serving the jailor tea.
Neil Nitin Mukesh is the real failure in this film because he brings zero conviction and believability to his role. He is awkward, lacks any real expressions and is unable to carry this film.
“Jail” is one sentence you want to avoid.