Madhur Bhandarkar is known for carrying a social message in his movies. And this time he is out of the world of bar girls, fashion and Page 3 social butterflies into the grimy, rat-infested prison cell, giving us a glimpse of our irresponsible and corrupt legal system.
The story is of a middle-class Parag Dixit (Neil Nitin Mukesh) who is newly promoted at his workplace and has hopes of a bright future with his girlfriend Mansi (Mugdha Godse). Parag lives alone in Mumbai and shares his house with Keshavrao – an employee of the auto industry. But what Parag doesn’t know is that he is also a drug peddler. And one night, as he is returning home with his roomie, Parag is caught in a crossfire between Keshavrao and the cops, leaving the peddler in coma and Parag in prison.
Parag is charged under sections 21 and 302 and spends nearly two years in Thane jail before his case comes up for trial but by then the evidence is stacked against him and the judge pronounces an 8-year imprisonment and Rs 2 lakhs in fine, dashing all hopes of leaving the jail for good. And a hopeful young man is transformed into a speechless, aggressive, classless, flavorless person, switching in and out of insanity. Parag’s mother and Mansi fight for justice and even try applying for bail. But the Indian law is neither of pity nor dignity.
Bhandarkar has portrayed a ekdum aalag take on the Indian jails and doesn’t shy from showing grime and horror of jail life- cops with their levels/degrees of torture, solitary confinement (in this case Anda Cell), prison politics, etc. All the characters are given a human face despite their crimes. So we have Nawab (Manoj Bajpai) a butcher-turned-murderer who actually ends up as everyone’s Godfather, Ghalib- the in-house poet who displays exemplary work. Kabir (Arya Babbar) the prison Bhai, and Ghani (Rahul Singh), the good guy-turned-desperate, who have a story on the side.
The heart and soul of the movie is Neil Nitin Mukesh’s character. His powerhouse performance, from horror, shock, despair and hope in his eyes to get free, is fascinating. Also his desperation, sheer madness and suicidal tendencies shake you to the core.
Bhandarkar also brings Lataji onto the screen by making her sing prayers for the prisoners every monring and evening. Jail is realistic enough which makes it watchable and connects with what common people have to face in a judiciary setting.
On the whole a power-packed movie. Don’t miss it.
Contributed by Komal Chheda