Quest Films' JIS DESH MEIN GANGA REHTA HAI, directed by Mahesh Manjrekar, is the journey of a simpleton who revels in the security and warmth of his roots, only to discover that the roots are not really his.
Ganga (Govinda) is pure, moralistic and untouched by the realities of life beyond his village. He lives happily with his shepherd father (Shivaji Satam) and doting mother (Reema Lagoo). Saawni (Sonali Bendre), a pretty village belle, sees in Ganga the man of her dreams.
Ganga's blissful life comes crashing down when it is revealed that he is living with his foster parents. Ganga's parents are, in fact, industrialists (Shakti Kapoor and Himani Shivpuri) who live in the city. The story takes a dramatic turn when Ganga's real parents want him back.
Thus begins an uprooted Ganga's travails from the village to the city, as he discovers a new world, a new family, a new environment and new values unfolding in front of him. Once in the city, he meets Tina (Rinke Khanna), a modern city girl, who is unable to resist Ganga's rustic charm and lends him her heart.
Ganga is also introduced to his elder brother (Milind Gunaji), a dishonest man, his snobbish bhabhi (Supriya Karnik) and his spoilt younger brother (Ankush Chaudhary).
JIS DESH MEIN GANGA REHTA HAI is, to an extent, inspired by Dada Kondke's Marathi hit EKTA JEEV SADASHIV. The film actually showcases the enormous talent Govinda possesses. It also proves director Mahesh Manjrekar's versatility in handling light subjects, unlike his past films ? VAASTAV, NIDAAN and ASTITVA ? which were intense subjects.
If Manjrekar is successful in extracting commendable performances from some artistes and making you laugh at frivolous situations, he falters in one major department ? the screenplay, that is devoid of excitement.
When the story shifts from the village to the city, the viewer expects the film to undergo a dramatic change. Unfortunately, that does not happen, for the writer resorts to clich?situations, gags and punches to move the story ahead.
Ganga's interaction with his actual family could've been more dramatic, with ample doses of emotions thrown in, which are actually Manjrekar's forte. But the drama does not rise beyond the mundane. The story hardly moves in the second half and when it does, there are no memorable sequences to register an impact.
Moreover, Manjrekar has used most songs as gap fillers. Although the music is praiseworthy (music: Anand Raaj Anand), the songs appear in quick succession, without any valid situations. At least two songs can easily be deleted to make the pace faster ? the dream number picturised on Govinda and Rinke and the song that appears after the story has already had a happy ending!
Manjrekar has captured the essence of village life with care, but he should've avoided giving the film a Maharashtrian flavour. The lingo used, the way the characters dress, the orchestration in a couple of songs, the village ambience? This is one factor that will limit the film's prospects to Maharashtra alone.
The pre-climax ? Govinda being arrested for a crime he has not committed, and the change of heart of his sister-in-law and brother ? looks too sudden for the viewer to absorb. Even the climax, though well shot, lacks power and punch!
JIS DESH MEIN GANGA REHTA HAI belongs to Govinda completely. The actor takes to his role like a fish takes to water -- so comfortable is he even in inane situations. Govinda has this amazing ability to elevate the most ordinary scenes with effortless ease. This film is one more addition to the list of premium performances delivered by him.
If there's anyone who scores besides Govinda, it is Reema Lagoo. Her sequences with Govinda prove that she is an actress of substance. She leaves a mark in emotional scenes.
Sonali Bendre looks pretty and does her part well. Rinke Khanna is quite expressive and looks hep in western outfits. Shivaji Satam is adequate. Shakti Kapoor is effective. Milind Gunaji is a non-actor. Supriya Karnik is first-rate as the evil bhabhi. Himani Shivpuri is okay.
Cinematography is eye pleasing. Dialogues go well with the mood of the film. The background score should've been more effective.
On the whole, JIS DESH MEIN GANGA REHTA HAI pales when compared to Mahesh Manjrekar's previous attempts. At best, it will entertain to the select few in Maharashtra because of the Maharashtrian flavour in the film. Moreover, the film hasn't taken a good start at most places, which will also restrict its prospects at the box-office.