Hollywood has often depicted the disturbing issue of child molestation. However, the abysmal issue has been project twice on the Hindi screen in the recent past Mira Nair's MONSOON WEDDING and Mahesh Manjrekar's PITAAH.
Mehul Kumar, the director of hard-hitting films such as KRANTIVEER and TIRANGAA, is back yet again with a hard-hitting fare. His latest film, JAAGO, based on a true-life shocking incident the rape of a 9-year-old school girl in a local train of Mumbai is a hard-hitting statement that pricks your conscience and makes you think.
Shruti [child artiste Hansika Motwani] is the 10-year-old daughter of Shrikant [Sanjay Kapoor] and Shraddha [Raveena Tandon]. She travels to her school by the local train every morning.
One day, she accidentally gets locked up in her school and by the time she catches a train to go home, it is already midnight. Three young drug addicts also board the train and seeing her alone, they rape her in front of three passengers who seem afraid and helpless to come to her aid.
Shruti is brought in an unconscious state to the hospital by the police. She breathes her last in front of her aggrieved parents. The city is shocked by this untoward incident.
The case is handed over to Kripa Shankar Thakur [Manoj Bajpai], an upright and honest cop from the Crime Branch. From here starts an unusual legal battle between the honest and the corrupt
A songless film [more and more producers are attempting songless movies a trend that is gaining momentum!], JAAGO depicts the heinous act with utmost realism. Your heart skips a beat when three drug addicts [two of them belonging to affluent families] force themselves on this hapless young girl. Right in front of mute spectators!
Although child molestation continues to wreck havoc on young lives, the finale of the film will be met with a thunderous response. There couldn't have been a more appropriate end for the film!
However, the film does have its share of loose threads
The screenplay is not as well penned as one would've expected it to be. For instance, Manoj's brainwave of planting Raveena, the victim's mother, in the midnight train doesn't really gel. In fact, watching Raveena in skimpy outfits looks formulaic and robs the film of its intentions.
Another flaw is that the constant conflict between the victims' affluent fathers and Manoj Bajpai has nothing novel to it. Even the Puru Raaj Kumar track looks completely forced in the goings-on.
Mehul Kumar was instrumental in giving a fillip to Raaj Kumar's career with MARTE DAM TAK and Nana Patekar's career with author-backed roles in KRANTIVEER and TIRANGAA. In JAAGO, the director recreates the magic with Manoj Bajpai, who delivers an astounding performance. His lengthy outburst in the courtroom before the judge pronounces the verdict deserves an ovation. In fact, the actor seems apt for the role of a crusader.
Yet another factor that stands out is K.K. Singh's dialogues. To state that the dialogues are the soul of the film would be an understatement. The background score [Sameer Sen] is up to the mark.
Sanjay Kapoor is appropriate. Raveena Tandon conveys the pathos effectively. Akhilendra Mishra enacts the bad man role with flourish.
On the whole, JAAGO has a hard-hitting theme as its USP, but the very theme will meet with diverse reactions from cinegoers. While the masses might take to the theme, the orthodox families specifically may not really stomach the disturbing issue the film tries to project. At the box-office, the film has some chances in the Hindi belt. A solo release may also help to an extent. However, business in multiplexes won't be really rewarding!