The moment you think about drought prone parts of India, the first scene that comes to your mind is Aamir Khan with a bunch of villagers dancing to 'Ghanan Ghanan' in Ashutosh Gowariker's marvelous directorial debut 'Lagaan'.
Yet another filmmaker, Girish Malik makes his debut with 'Jal (Water)', a film that is about the people of the Rann of Kutch depending on a water diviner to rescue them from the water scarcity in the region.
The similarity between Lagaan and Jal ends right at the two directors making their debut with films with the backdrop of water scarcity.
The former is a classic while Jal will find its audience in a niche sector of the society as it lacks the buzz a film with a glorious star cast makes.
JAL starts with Bakka (Purab Kohli) trying to dig a well in search of water for his pregnant wife Kesar (Kirti Kulhari). The flashback then tells us how this overconfident water diviner whose main purpose in life is getting water to his village is struggling for a drop of Jal for his unborn child. A parallel track in the film has Russian Ornithologist Kim (Saidah Jules) come down to the Rann to get water and rescue the dying Flamingo chicks in the area.
Malik's basic idea behind making the film was to tap on an issue that most parts of the world are soon going to face. The rich have water while the poor are struggling for just a drop.
Jal can be easily defined as a poignant tale of human relationships with an underlying message. Though it is stretched and could have easily done away with a few edits, Jal sure has your attention throughout.
Purab packs quite the punch with his powerful performance. Kirti Kulhari who was also seen in 'Shaitan' and 'Khichdi - The Movie' looks good and leaves a lasting impression. Saidah Jules is herself and has nothing much to portray in the acting department, however, it is Tannishtha who steals the show with her stellar performance.
The supporting cast including Mukul Dev, Ravi Gossain, Yashpal Sharma do their job well.
The film deserves a thumbs up when it comes to cinematography and direction but there comes a point when you start feeling that the film is going no where and needs to end. The climax is half-baked too.
Sonu Nigam and Bickram Ghosh do an outstanding job with the film's music, be it the background score or the album. The title song with Shubha Mudgal's melodious voice sure is the highlight.
Most dialogues in the film are Hindi-Gujarati and this sure will strain the average Indian cine-goer. But the film sure has an arty side to it that makes it a visual treat. A few scenes stay with you even after you have left the cinema hall.
The film captures the right emotions very subtly portraying human relationships and their urge to survive.
JAL is not your cup of tea if you are the one who survives on Masala Entertainers. For those who like experimental cinema, go watch it.