Ever since childhood, the thing that most city dwellers fantasize about is
the jungle, what with the "me Tarzan, you Jane" dialogues and the safely etched
out treks they freak out on. But imagine the terror of a "woman cub" lost in
a pathless jungle with no Bagheera to help her out. That primal terror
which haunts our worst nightmares is captured effectively in Ram Gopal Verma's
latest film Jungle.
The film apparently deals with operation "hostage release". The militant outfit
that holds the heroine hostage sure is a take off on Veerappan's. Anu (Urmila
Matondkar), moreover, catches the fancy of this one more recent reincarnation
of Gabbar, and is lost all alone in the midst of dakus who are much worse
than the jungle itself. Life is a real nightmare till help comes, though eternally
deferred, in the form of Siddhu (Fardeen Khan), her lover boy.
Ram Gopal Verma manages to depict her travails through an effective narration,
which has the right mix of suspense and drama. In fact, his efficient direction,
ably helped by Vijay Arora's superb cinematography and Chandan Arora's effective
editing, make you sit glued to the chair till the end.
The plot has more twists and surprises than the maze of the jungle itself. Anu is madly in love with Siddhu, though her papa would like her to marry his choice. She is sure, however, that far away in the "tiger sanctuary" where the family is to go for a holiday, she would be able to convince her papa. Siddhu lands up there, making it a real romance till it is suddenly hijacked by the "sandal wood smuggler" whom no police can catch.
The party that has gone to locate the real beast in the jungle falls prey to
the beast that rules the jungle. In return for one of their men caught by the
police, the hostages are released, except Anu whom the smuggler rather fancies.
Despite warnings from the commando chief (Sunil Shetty in his by now favorite
role) and a friendly Dorai, Siddhu is right there in the midst of the jungle,
by the side of his ladylove. Does he manage to rescue her? What happens to the
honest commando officer? And who is the deadlier beast, the tiger that chases
them or the lustful daku, Durga? Watch Ram Gopal Verma's Jungle,
which is sure to provide a thrill a minute.
His entire cast has put in creditable performances. Technically, too, the film
is a marvel. The camera pans, tilts, moves in and out to capture the mystery
and wonder of the lush jungle. At times, the run (I'm sure he doesn't like the
word anymore) for life is as vividly portrayed as Kurosawa's Rashoman.
The cinematography is that superb. The editing, too, is real textbook editing
which brings to life the beauty of the jungle.
The beastly aspect of this beauty (-fool?), however, is the trivialization
of the entire issue. Verma portrays Veerappan as yet another Gabbar. In fact,
the tribal dance that the whole outfit erupts into when their man is to be released
is like a cabaret from any trashy film. Hence, their vicious cruelty is made
easy to consume, which mocks this problem which has been gobbling up the life
of any number of hostages, commandos and nation-states. Ask Naxalite victims
in Andhra, for example.
In other words, Verma's glossy, slick treatment of a serious issue shows how
mass media can make any and every problem an easy fantasy, so much so that Fardeen
Khan's handsome, innocent face mocks the genuine attempts of an entire commando
force. Thus are beasts rendered beautiful!