Planet Bollywood
Producer: Shailendra Singh
Director: Madhur Bhandarkar
Starring: Neil Nitin Mukesh, Mugdha Godse, Manoj Bajpai,Arya Babbar, Chetan Pandit, Ghanshyam Garg
Music: Shamir Tandon, Sharib Shabri, Toshi Shabri
Lyrics: Sharib Toshi, Sandeep Nath, Ajay Kumar Garg, Turaz
Genre: Social
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Film Released on: 06 November 2009
Reviewed by: Samir Dave  - Rating: 8.0 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.13 / 10 (rated by 412 viewers)
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Unless you have ever been unlucky enough to be in an Indian prison, you’ve never felt the absolute grim stark madness of prisons. Bollywood films tend to stay away from showing the darker sides of prison life. It’s a world that is ripe with the possibilities of stories not only ripped from the headlines, but of drama on a universal scale of perverse humanity. If Western jails are known for the sheer brutality of its inmates, then what are Indian jails known for? Not the revolving door jails that stars come in and out of, and not the jails with the invariably buffoonish cops ‘n’ robbers shown in most Bollywood films, but rather the true reality of the Indian prison system? Trust Madhur Bhandarkar, who has moved from the gossip of “Page 3” to the dirty doings of the “Corporate” world to the gangs of “Traffic Signal” to the sexy undoings of the “Fashion” world, to shine his directorial vision on what has heretofore been an undiscovered world.

He brings his trademark hard hitting style to a story which on the service sounds like a cliché. Seemingly innocent Parag Dixit finds himself in jail, but why? He’s got a great life and a great girlfriend (Mugdha Godse), but winds up in Jail where he is befriended by the yoda of the Indian prison system, Nawab (the always great Manjoj Bajpayee).

Yet, from the first frame till the last, the viewer will find him/herself captivated by what is shown on screen. It’s not just the direction which is sharp and to the point. The acting by Neil Nitin Mukesh is absolutely riveting. You can see each tortured expression on his face (and through the movement of his body). He simply carries the film on his shoulders and makes this a must see experience.

One thing I must commend the director (and writers) is on the attention to detail within this movie(which there is a noticeable lack of in Bollywood films). From the booking in and registration of new inmates, to the explicit details of prison life, extra care is taken to depict everything in a realistic manner. That is primarily thanks to the excellent research conducted by the screenplay writers Anuradha Tiwari and Manoj Tyagi.

The creepy and humanistic cast includes Arya Babbar (excellent), G.K. Desai, Navni Parihar, Raahul Singh, Chetan Pandit, and Jignesh Joshi. The cinematography by Kalpesh Bhandarkar sets the right atmosphere showcasing the contrasts between the prison and the “real” world. Devendra Murdeshwar’s editing is perfect, letting no scene linger for too long, creating the right kind of momentum that propels the film and viewer to the inevitable climax. The music by Shamir Tandon is not as memorable as the music for Bhandarkar’s "Fashion", but one must understand that this is an entirely different film wherein music doesn’t have much of a place.

Yes, there’s that other feel good movie starring Ranbir Kapoor that is out there right now, and most people are going to see that, but do yourself a favor and check out Madhur Bhandarkar’s “Jail”. It’s a movie with a dark side, and one that will resonate even after the last reel. Can you say that about that other feel good movie? I bet not.

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