Unless you have ever been unlucky enough to be in an Indian prison, you’ve never felt the absolute grim stark madness of prisons. Bollywood films tend to stay away from showing the darker sides of prison life. It’s a world that is ripe with the possibilities of stories not only ripped from the headlines, but of drama on a universal scale of perverse humanity. If Western jails are known for the sheer brutality of its inmates, then what are Indian jails known for? Not the revolving door jails that stars come in and out of, and not the jails with the invariably buffoonish cops ‘n’ robbers shown in most Bollywood films, but rather the true reality of the Indian prison system? Trust Madhur Bhandarkar, who has moved from the gossip of “Page 3” to the dirty doings of the “Corporate” world to the gangs of “Traffic Signal” to the sexy undoings of the “Fashion” world, to shine his directorial vision on what has heretofore been an undiscovered world.
He brings his trademark hard hitting style to a story which on the service sounds like a cliché. Seemingly innocent Parag Dixit finds himself in jail, but why? He’s got a great life and a great girlfriend (Mugdha Godse), but winds up in Jail where he is befriended by the yoda of the Indian prison system, Nawab (the always great Manjoj Bajpayee).
Yet, from the first frame till the last, the viewer will find him/herself captivated by what is shown on screen. It’s not just the direction which is sharp and to the point. The acting by Neil Nitin Mukesh is absolutely riveting. You can see each tortured expression on his face (and through the movement of his body). He simply carries the film on his shoulders and makes this a must see experience.
One thing I must commend the director (and writers) is on the attention to detail within this movie(which there is a noticeable lack of in Bollywood films). From the booking in and registration of new inmates, to the explicit details of prison life, extra care is taken to depict everything in a realistic manner. That is primarily thanks to the excellent research conducted by the screenplay writers Anuradha Tiwari and Manoj Tyagi.
Yes, there’s that other feel good movie starring Ranbir Kapoor that is out there right now, and most people are going to see that, but do yourself a favor and check out Madhur Bhandarkar’s “Jail”. It’s a movie with a dark side, and one that will resonate even after the last reel. Can you say that about that other feel good movie? I bet not.