Days after the release of the hyped Jai Gangaajal, there almost no talk about the movie. Even the recent ‘Priyanka-Wave’ could do little to uplift the fate of this 2016 release. The fact is, that the only reason this movie attracted attention was that it was hailed as a supposed spiritual successor to the 2003 Bollywood classic, Gangaajal and now it only goes to prove that there can be no other.
The recent debacle of the latest Prakash Jha release only adds to the glory of the 2003 classic. So this feels like a good time to revisit the original movie and what made it stand out.
So what was so special about the movie? Most people have seen it already, many have seen it multiple times. And like you guessed it, I was blown away when I saw this film.
The story of Gangaajal basically revolved around Ajay Devgn’s character, Amit Kumar. Obviously, the actor had a lot on his shoulders but then again it might be only me speculating the fact as most Bollywood movies here are successful on the popularity of the stars and not their performance. But regardless, Ajay Devgn took his character to great lengths with his performance. Devgn’s hard-boiled acting felt completely natural with the character and his versatile acting only added to the drama. The real highlight was how quickly he made us forget about the man behind the lens. There was a lot going on during the course of the story and Devgn’s impeccable performance in all of the different situations just made the character more relatable.
Shudh desi *#$%^&*(
I guess till 2012, before Gangs of Wasseypur was released, Gangaajal might have held the title of the most verbally abusive Bollywood movie till date. From start to finish, Gangaajal was completely raw and brutal. Uncompromising, the script felt completely natural while being explosive. There are so many slangs we hear almost every day, but in the end, all our movies end up showing are cheesy lines that only end up in texts and letters in reality. Gangaajal was a real treat.
Bollywood movies are infamous for their dumb storylines. A pathetically poor number of movies have any variety in the story, and almost all have simple, linear narratives. And when one movie actually does something different, and if it was received well by the audience, it would be soon followed with several imitations in other subsequent releases. Gangaajal was both interesting and real. To my complete surprise, I was completely engrossed in the story. There was so much going on here.
Gangaajal features a big roster of actors besides Ajay Devgn. Mohan Joshi, Yashpal Sharma, Mukesh Tiwari, are some of the familiar names in the list. My favorite character in the movie was without a doubt, Bachcha Yadav. The anti-hero played by the talented Mukesh Tiwari gripped my interest right from the start. I particularly liked the initial clashes between his and Devgn’s character and the overall evolution of inspector Yadav in general. And who could forget the iconic scene where he finally held up the ‘gangaajal‘, bringing out the true character of the movie. As mentioned before, the brilliant narrative had a lot going on here and there and everyone played their part well. The real brilliance here is that every character (and there were quite a few in this movie) had an important role to play in the story. It is a real achievement that the makers were able to navigate such a captivating story among such a large number of characters in such a natural manner. Most of the actors excelled in their performance on-screen, keeping in line with the high standards seen throughout the film.
Bollywood has always been a big fan of death-defying stunts and really, really big fights. And with a movie like Gangaajal, where most of the characters were police and gangsters, I don’t know how the filmmakers resisted the temptation. For a movie like this, there were very few number of fights. And by fights, I mean the traditional hero-villain fights, and by that I mean Ajay Devgn in action. An unflinching character with a strong personality, the SP of Tezpur had all the right ingredients for an unstoppable fighting machine but he wasn’t. He stayed true to his character and resorted to violence only when necessary. In a long time, a Bollywood movie felt so real.
Basically, the main reason Gangaajal could connect so well with the audience was because it showed a real picture. Yes, the story and the characters were completely fictional, but whatever happened here could happen in reality as well. What Gangaajal showed was an unfiltered society, a completely Indian scenario. And that was why it was so easy to relate.
And regarding the complex narrative, Indian filmmakers have a common opinion that the general Indian audience is quite dumb. Sadly that is true to a good extent, but what they fail to understand is that Hollywood movies, in general, are a lot more difficult to understand in general. There are so many socio-cultural differences to take note of, not to mention the completely alien accent in a foreign language. There’s just too much to digest. Movies like Gangaajal and Gangs of Wasseypur are strictly adult movies, not only because of the mature language but because of the brilliant script as well. Put anything you like, but as long as you let it all go down to the real India, the India that we know and understand, everyone will get the point.
In hindsight, the scene with Mukesh Tiwari holding the chemical religiously regarded as ‘gangaajal’ could very well be considered as one of the most iconic scenes in Bollywood. This was the defining moment in the movie where SP Amit Kumar’s crusade of truth and justice would have an unexpected outcome. From this point on, the story took its real form and man what a ride it was! Compared to most of movies of today, very few go so deep into the hearts of the audience as most try to bank out as much cash as possible in the name of entertainment.
So basically this movie is a 5-star masterpiece?
Not quite. Although this movie is perfection if you consider all the above-mentioned points, but there are some more things that should be considered.
Although the story was a great achievement, some other aspects of the movie wasn’t of the same quality. Props such as gates, some dresses, and many other objects were starkly fake and didn’t go quite well with the real and gritty world of Gangaajal. Gates felt like they were made of cardboard whenever they were being opened, and one of the most obvious mistakes was the car-battery in the end. People were lifting it as if it was made of thermocol. Things like these really need a minimal amount of attention and care, and it was sad to see the makers refrain from going just that much extra.
Gracy Singh acted real bad. Plain and simple. Her name is important as her character, Anuradha had a significant amount of screentime and her role as the SP’s wife was very central to the story.
And while we’re talking about bad acting, there are several others. Almost all the children were basically irritating and most of the crowds and mobs grossly overreacted their scenes. In contrast to the brilliant performances of Ajay Devgn and Mukesh Tiwari, it was sad to see others bring down the level of the movie in this department.
Despite the movie falling short in some places, Gangaajal still manages to stand out as a truly impressive work of motion picture and can be easily considered as one of Prakash Jha’s greatest achievements in Bollywood. I just have no clue as to why Mr. Jha went ahead with a sequel like Jai Gangaajal.
All this goes to show how well the 2003 movie stands out. Gangaajal is a winner all the way.