Jal takes its own time in unravelling and loses the plot pretty soon, says Paloma Sharma.
Girish Malik's directorial debut surely has a good heart but it forgets that subtle difference between a PowerPoint presentation and a film, as it documents survival in the water-scarce Rann of Kutch.
Bakka (Purab Kohli), a young man who calls himself the God of Water, is a water diviner who is in love with Kesar (Kirti Kulhari), the daughter of the chieftain of the enemy tribe.
The film follows his rise and fall from paani ka devta to an outcast. Add to this a couple of foreign ornithologists who seek to help the flamingos that migrate to the Rann of Kutch by providing them with fresh water.
However, they are hesitant to do the same when it comes to saving human lives (and this dialogue will be repeated over and over again in the film).
The one good thing about Jal is that Purab Kohli steps out of the boy-next-door mould and lives up to his potential.
Tannishta Chatterjee is completely wasted as Kajri, who is Eponine to Bakka's Marius.
Yashpal Sharma, however, manages to salvage a couple of scenes along with Ravi Gossain and Rohit Singh -- chiefly because of the humorous arguments the three of them get into with each other.
As for Kirti Kulhari, she really, really needs to drop that Punjabi accent that keeps popping up right in the middle of the salt marshes of Gujarat.
Jal is breathtakingly photographed and contains ample shots of the beauty of the barren lands and its feathered guests, to the point of making you feel like you're watching the Discovery Channel.
Malik attempts to create something along the lines of a Shakespearean tragedy, then goes on to add an environmental angle to it.
Furthermore, it goes the Matribhumi way when it comes to its treatment of the female characters.
The path that Jal takes you down is riddled with potholes of unnecessary sex/rape, nudity and mardangi (manhood) jokes.
It is a little difficult to understand what Malik wants to show the viewer since he does not bother to create subplots but lets storylines run independent of each other and eventually, when everything does entangle, it turns into absolute chaos.
The soundtrack sometimes tends to overshadow the story and it is difficult to tell whether that's because of how good the music is or how bad the writing is.
Jal takes its own time in unravelling, fooling itself into believing that a certain Govarikar is its creator, and when it finally does reach its climax, it turns out to be completely predictable.
I get what Malik was trying to do. If I read hard enough between the lines, I can make out that he was only attempting to show how fickle humans are and how easily humanity deteriorates once it comes to survival.
Resources are scarce and must be used judiciously. When the great white saviours finally do arrive, they value their own interests in the survival of migrating birds over the survival of human beings who have no choice but to live in the barren desert permanently.
There is no room for emotion in a dog eat dog world; and all these plans sound brilliant but they really amount to nothing if not executed efficiently.
In my humble opinion, Jal would have made a much more powerful literary piece than it makes a film. As a story on celluloid, it is simply a dead bore.