Gangaajal (2003)


Gangaajal (2003)
Cast: Ajay Devgun, Gracy Singh
Director: Prakash Jha
Music Director: Wayne Sharpe
Nutshell: Excellent tale of dark dealings and police corruption and brutality
Reviewed by: Faiz Khan


Despite the disclaimer at the start of the film, Gangaajal is based on a true incident and aspires to delve into the moral dilemmas thrown up in the face of mass corruption which pervades every layer of society in India.. Jha’s film follows a familiar setting of one of his previous efforts Mrityudand which although dealing with women’s emancipation, also concerned a small time village where corruption, moral decay and hypocrisy breathed from in every pore of society.

Upright and utterly honest, Superintendent of Police Amit Kumar (Ajay Devgan) is posted to rural Tejpur, a volatile area where the local Mafioso’s rule the land and their might is unquestioned by anyone including the police. Amit is advised by his DIG (Mohan Agashe) that he can sit back and relax and if he has any worries, that he should revert to him. It is the only rule for survival. On one impromptu visit to the shikarpur police station, Amit sees how the police operate and their involvement in collecting bribes and their misuse of power. The whole village is under the spell of Sadhu Yadav (Mohan Joshi) and his son Sunder Yadav (Yashpal Sharma) including the upper brass of the police force. One of Amit’s team, Inspector Bachcha Yadav (Mukesh Tiwari), like most of the police force, is also on the payroll Sadhu Yadav and Sadhu Yadav decides to “gift” him a local hood so that he can make an impression with Amit. .Amit smells a rat and gives Bacha Yadav time to decide on what the “truth” really is, believing him, ultimately an honest and good man.

Amit is a man who does things by the book and seeing his resolve to play it straight, his junior officers stand by him as a team and take up cudgels against the all powerful Sadhu Yadav and his vile son Sunder.
Bachcha Yadav is given a second chance by Amit and he manages to ensnare the vile Sunder. But justice is blind and Sunder is released, to the fury of the police. Picking up two cronies of the Yadav’s at night, the team of police officers go wild and in an act of severe violence, brutally blind two of his cronies, pouring acid into the wounds and calling it ‘Gangaajal’, the relevance being that they were “cleansed” of their sins with this “Gangaajal”.

This act of brutality shocks Amit and he is adamant that he will find the culprits and have them court-martialled. However, the public takes to this new form of justice where “justice has been seen to be done” and not simply hoodwinked through corruption.. There then begins a spate of attacks where justice is meted out with the use of ‘gangaajal’.
Jha has made a mesmerizing film, devoid of frills and clichés, taking a straight and narrow path in the narrative and concentrating on the issues that face the character of Amit. It is a film of great power and does ask you some pertinent questions before reaching a climax which may seem perfunctory but actually decides the issue on the correct moral grounds.

Stark and mesmerizing, Jha knits together a frightening expose of corruption in Tejpur which simply acts as a metaphor for corruption which is so embedded in our society.

Ajay Devgan is simply superb yet again in a controlled and riveting performance as the upright Amit. Gracy Singh has a blink and you will miss her role but the film sticks to a gripping narrative and does not seek to deviate from this purpose. Mukesh Tiwari is excellent in the role of Bachcha Yadav and both Mohan Joshi and Yashpal Sharma enact their roles extremely well.

Shot in Bihar, Gangaajal has the feeling of authenticity to it and aspires to be more than your usual cop against the system film. This subject has been dealt with so many times before, but rarely so effectively as Jha manages to do here. For the meek, it is perhaps not to be recommended but otherwise, a stunning film.