Friday, February 06, 2004


Nobody should have the right to turn a tragedy into a disgusting spectacle in the name of art or freedom of expression. Mehul Kumar, tries to cash in on the rape of a minor in a Mumbai local train and makes a film so idiotic and stomach-turning, that it is surprising the censors let it pass. What kind of parent would allow a child to go through the revolting scenes the nine-year-old child actress is made to do in Jaago?

If the director was serious about taking up an issue, he could have dealt with it with some imagination, and used symbolism instead of a graphic rape scene picturised on a child. But neither writer KK Singh, nor Kumar has the sensitivity—nor, one images, the intention—to ‘awaken’ the conscience of the audience.

Shruti (Hansika Motwani) is locked up accidentally and gets out of school past midnight. Her mother Shraddha (Raveena Tandon) makes endless calls, but it never occurs to her to go to the school and find out why her daughter hasn’t returned. The girl is raped by three junkies in the train, the incident witnessed by three fellow passengers. The child dies in hospital, so the filmmaker spares himself the effort of dealing with the unpleasant aftermath.

After this the film gets mired in a series of puerile clichés, forgets the main track and goes into a hysterical anti-police tirade. Kripashanker (Manoj Bajpai), is the honest cop put in charge of the case, and he uses the odd ploy of using a scantily-clad Shraddha as bait and in no time the three rapists walk into it. As if the same group of men are constantly scouring trains for women to attack!

Shradda kills one of the boys and goes to jail. The other two are sons of IAS officers, who go about ordering the cops around with the arrogance and authority of emperors. There is also a loud Sindhi lawyer, whose entry on screen is accompanied by the sound of crows cawing, and a good-hearted, helpful Muslim gangster, who gets some vague Arabic music as his theme. Ministers, opposition parties, media (pronounced midya to rhyme with chidiya) are all thrown into the bubbling cauldron.

The dead girl’s father (Sanjay Kapoor) kills one of the remaining two, so one cowed-looking fellow is left to face the trial in the court of a befuddled old judge. The case goes off into a flurry of long, impassioned speeches; these are a lot of hot air conveying nothing and leading to a completely ludicrous climax.

Such films may pretend to be sympathetic to women’s issues, but all they end up doing is making a mockery of them. Pity that actors like Manoj Bajpai and Raveena Tandon throw their weight behind such awful, insincere films—just out of greed for a couple of bombastic lines.

Fortunately, the moviehall was empty and nobody in their right mind would recommend this unspeakable film to their friends.


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