Wednesday, 6 July, 2022
HomeFeaturesJana Gana Mana is a carefully crafted cinematic gem that loses shine...

Jana Gana Mana is a carefully crafted cinematic gem that loses shine after interval

Streaming on Netflix, the film is a political thriller that means business. Right from the get go, it brings several uncomfortable debates at the forefront.

Text Size:
ThePrint Take
ReelTake

Best politics is right action” — a college professor of Indian Polity scribbles this quote by Mahatma Gandhi on the board in one of the early scenes of Jana Gana Mana. He hopes to encourage his students to raise their voices against any atrocity. The Malayalam film Jana Gana Mana also tries to do the same in over two-hour long screen time.

Streaming on Netflix, the film is a political thriller that means business. Right from the get go, it brings several uncomfortable debates at the forefront.

In his second directorial venture, Dijo Jose Antony creates a world in the first half — a murder, nationwide student protest, police brutality, media trial, and encounter killings — and spends the next half dismantling certain beliefs his characters seemingly advocate for in the former half.


Also read: Samrat Prithviraj is so focused on Muslim invaders that it forgets the king himself


Inspiration from socio-political landscape

Jana Gana Mana has got its politics right. The instances writer Sharis Mohammed has drawn inspiration from have impacted the socio-political climate of the country significantly — the death of Rohith Vemula in the University of Hyderabad, prevalent casteism in colleges, crime against women, and the recent encounter killings of accused rapists in Hyderabad.

Not just this, there are over a dozen instances wherein the film imitates real-life occurrences. At one point, a senior college official says (looking at a picture of hijab-clad protesting students), “You can identify them from their clothes”. This happens after a Muslim professor is burnt and killed and the college tries to malign her character instead of offering solidarity.

At another juncture, saffron-clad activists bombard into the college premises and attack the protesting students. This is a hat tip to several violent incidents involving students affiliated to different parties in a premier Delhi University.

The first half of the film, especially, is a carefully crafted cinematic gem.


Also read: Major nails patriotism without jingoism, aptly recreates the horror of 26/11 attacks


Punctured second-half

At the heart of it, Jana Gana Mana is a thriller drama. And while it sticks to it, it triumphs. Suraj Venjaramoodu as ACP Sajjan Kumar is, perhaps, one of the finest performers of the film. The way he deals with agitating students who have lost faith in the police or how he perseveres through a highly sensationalised investigation, Venjaramoodu attempts to rise above the limitations of the screenplay.

Prithviraj Sukumaran as an advocate Aravind Swaminathan is effective when he does not resort to a heavy baritone to make a point. For the most part, he is angry, disappointed and seeking vengeance. It all steadily becomes difficult to watch because his character seems to be advocating for every cause.

While the first half of the film sets a precedent in terms of pace and intensity, it all fizzles out scene by scene in the second half. Some of the scenes evoke shock, anger and are effective. But they are all spread out here and there. The end result appears like a lazily stitched up narrative.

Director DJ Antony has many novel ideas on the platter and he does not hold back in commenting on the socio-political landscape of the country. From identity politics, student suicides to media trials — the film bravely addresses all of it. However, the long speeches or delivering a list of facts do little to nothing to advance the film’s appeal.

All in all, Jana Gana Mana is loaded with potential and some fine performances but the muddled second half restricts it from becoming a great.

(Edited by Anurag Chaubey)

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism

Most Popular

Best politics is right action” — a college professor of Indian Polity scribbles this quote by Mahatma Gandhi on the board in one of the early scenes of Jana Gana Mana. He hopes to encourage his students to raise their voices against any atrocity....Jana Gana Mana is a carefully crafted cinematic gem that loses shine after interval
×