For the Nepali comedy lovers who were frustrated with recent Dal Bhat Tarkari, Jatrai Jatra is a relief. This week’s release makes sincere efforts to make the audience laugh with a smoothly narrated story presented in natural acting. Though it falters a bit in the second half due to overdramatisation, the movie is evidence that a flowing story and skilled acting can make an interesting comedy about boring complexities of human life, taking examples from odd and serious characters and circumstances.
Jatrai Jatra begins from the point its three-year-old prequel ‘Jatra’ had ended, and builds another similar pattern in the next two hours and a quarter—with the same characters and setting. Hence, it is among a few Nepali movies that can be truly called sequels. It helps the audience understand that popular brands like Chhakka Panja and A Mero Hajur are not sequels though sometimes they are claimed to be—for they present different standalone stories, completely unrelated to each other; what they have common is similar themes and same actors.
Whereas the three characters had landed in a banknote forgery case last time, they are into a gold smuggling case. The movie interestingly exposes how these ‘innocent’ people get attracted to criminal activity with a hope that it would help them improve their standard of life. Because it is a comedy, the movie has a happy ending—the characters are successful in saving themselves from police action; instead they manage to help the law enforcers find out the real culprits.
Like its prequel, this movie also presents a philosophy that life gives you more than what you expect; and if you can rightly handle it, you survive any kind of difficult situation. It is a comic retelling of Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ philosophy.
However, ‘Jatrai Jatra’ is also a standalone artwork. The audience which has not watched ‘Jatra’ also can understand the core story and its message clearly.
The biggest strength of the movie is its cast. Versatile Bipin Karki powerfully leads the plot. When he is on the screen, the audience forgets that they are watching an actor acting out for a movie; they are put in a realistic illusion that they are looking into the story of a middle-class taxi driver in their neighbourhood. It does not matter for Karki whether the situation needs a comic move or a serious tone, he is ready for what the story demands. In Jatrai Jatra, you see him drunk and sober, hilarious and tense, carefree and thoughtful and what not—but every time, he is a natural human being. His facial expression, intonation and body movement are realistic and humane.
Dayahang Rai’s acting is also equally good. Though he belongs to a different side, he also represents an innocent human being, who has been made a victim of the situation. He is also capable of showing different moods and moments in his acting.
The lead character played by Karki is mostly accompanied by two of his ‘jailmates’—played by Rabindra Singh Baniya and Rabindra Jha. Baniya’s share of the screen time is smaller than Karki’s and Jha’s, but wherever he appears, he does well. His distinct hairstyle and a different voice make his identifiable among the audience. Jha, on the other hand, is too talkative; but wits in his statements save the audience from getting bored.
Unlike other movies, Barsha Raut has been given a serious role this time—and she has done justice to it. Without speaking much, she reflects her inner feelings and thoughts on her face quite powerfully. For example, the scenes in which she works as a street food vendor and in which her husband, played by Karki, asks her if she wants him to be recognised by the kin provoke a series of thoughts in the audience. Child artist Arbin Khadka also impresses the audience with his emotional acting.
The first half of the movie is weaved well; but the second half is a bit loose. The first half clarifies the audience; but the second half confuses them further.
In its bid to make the audience laugh, the screenwriter cum director has forgotten to make the series of events look like natural and smooth. Further, some scenes lack artistic effects and logical coherence. For example, the smugglers’ gang could not recover gold kept underground as local Buddhists protested digging up the graveyard of their community; but how do the ‘heroes’ get success immediately the same night? On the other hand, why does the project involve a cash transaction for such a multimillion rupee deal instead of a cheque? Is it just a trick to connect the movie with a note forgery case of its prequel? Why stereotypically packing opponents in sacks and kicking them into the water?
Boringly enough, there are too many scenes showing the three friends drinking and making noises. Likewise, there is a cheap joke about the ambiguity of Nepali word ‘maal’. These weaknesses of the movie make the second half more unrealistic and less interesting.
Finally, following the emerging trend, this movie also includes a song at the end; in which other stars except those who have acted in the movie dance. The song featuring Nischal Basnet and Karishma Manandhar—Garmi laai fan hajur, jaado laai heater—does not have much relevance to the plot of the story. However, the theme song—Shshtra ma lekhna chhutya matra ho, jiban jatra ho—is perfectly okay.
Juxtaposing it with recent productions in general, Jatrai Jatra is an artistic and impressive work. The movie is successful in giving the audience a philosophical view of compulsions and complexities of a simple human life in a comic flavour. The movie is worth a watch.
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Runtime: 135 minutes
Screenwriter and director: Pradeep Bhattarai
Cast: Bipin Karki, Dayahang Rai, Rabindra Singh Baniya, Rabindra Jha, Barsha Raut, Raja Ram Poudel, Prakash Ghimire, Sohit Manandhar, Kalu Rana, Ansu Maharjan, Krishna Bhakta Maharjan, Kabindra Tripathi, Prem Pandey, Sajan Thapa Magar, Priyanka Jha, Sharma ji, Laxy Shrestha, Arbin Khadka
Published on May 19th, Sunday, 2019 10:44 AM
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