In director Pradeep Bhattarai’s Jatra, three men get their hands dirty when a sac of stolen money lands at their doorstep. The three, each of whom are struggling to make ends meet in Kathmandu’s ancient business neighbourbood of Asan, find themselves increasingly affected by the complotting.
It’s a classic case of dilemma, a tale of greed and aspiration that has been told numerous times. As is the case with Jatra, once comedy is put into the mix, there’s always a great chance of hilarity getting into the way of narrative traction, something which only the tv novellas of MaHa duo seemed to have cracked the balance of.
But Jatra’s jokes are funny and are so in a very refreshing way. Thanks to Rabindra Jha (the one with the funny bone in the trio), you will see the phrase ‘Nai Nabhannu La’ in a completely different light.
Bhattarai… is in touch with contemporary cinema and his understanding of space and milieu, and the difference between dialogue and spoken words is remarkable.
When the issue of narrative traction is put aside Jatra, however, scores a neat balance between contrivances and spontaneity, situational humour and exaggerated comedy.
Bhattarai, who has a long history of working with the MaHa duo, is in touch with contemporary cinema and his understanding of space and milieu, and the difference between dialogue and spoken words is remarkable.
It makes the movie, which consists of beautiful shots of the mist-laden bahals of Asan, distinctly situational, even though its story is clearly a filmic conceit.
A savvy cast which includes Bipin Karki, Rabindra Singh Baniya, Rabindra Jha and Barsha Raut among others, pulls off this comedy of repetition and reactions, which is as funny as it can get.
What Jatra is clearly not is a parable, even with its theme of morality, earnestess and greed (this is perhaps, Bhattarai’s contemporary side). The only takeaway from the movie is that good work pays off !