Disclaimer: As always, it is sort of review. ;)
Jhing Chik Jhing is such a tongue-twister name for a movie that Best Friend had quipped, naam to thik se bol le. [At least pronounce the name right.]
Then after a moment, popped the question, what is this movie about? I knew only two things: One, Jhing Chik Jhing (JCJ) is a Marathi movie, which has bagged 7 state awards. Second, it is set in backdrop of farmer suicides – a subject very close to my heart. [I had long back watched Summer 2007, a damning and harsh movie on the subject starring Ashutosh Rana, Gul Panag and Sikander Kher. The only grouse I had with the movie, as I remember now, was: an ape-looking Sikander Kher, but the movie itself was an eye-opener.
I wondered what did JCJ have that I hadn’t seen in Summer 2007. No, Summer 2007 is no ideal benchmark for a movie, I was simply pondering what new could be said on the subject. Turns out, JCJ is a whole new take on the subject and it is a very positive movie.]
Set in a rural Maharashtra village called Dhule, movie traces the life of a cotton farmer Mouli and his family. As is usual, Mouli has borrowed some money from a local moneylender and is counting on his upcoming cotton harvest to pay off his debt. His kids, Shyam and Dipti, oblivious of his predicament, go about their adventures at village school ad around. In fact, movie is more from Shyam’s POV. Shyam is a bright, innocent yet ambitious kid who has dreams that are bigger than his current station. Undeterred by his impoverished circumstances, where he is ridiculed by his peers for a hole in his pants and reprimanded everyday by teacher for not wearing his uniform shirt (as his father can’t afford it), he still dreams of owing a car one day, becoming a doctor and of simply eating bhajiyas…
Things soon go out of hand, so much that suicide seems to be an only option for the farmer family. Unfortunately, kids get a wind of it. Both the kids, in their own way, try to get that elusive Rs. 10, 000/- that would pay off their father’s debt and save the family. Parents, on the other hand, try to ensure that their kids should have happy last days…So, what happens to the family?
Jhing Chik Jhing, as I realised after watching the movie, is the fun sound kids make when they play, when they are happy. I was enthralled by the innocent childhood and school scenes captured in first half. Reminded me of my own school days, dreams, fun at prayer assemblies, preaching..uh thought for the day (yours truly was guilty of reciting all that gyan during the prayer meets, trust me it earned me a mix of mockery and ‘popularity’). I laughed at classroom scenes, camaraderie between kids (Remember those insecure enquiries, tu meri dost nahi hai? Aren’t you my best friend?), teacher hiding their ignorance in face of natural curiosity of children. And the puppy loves and sack races.
Movie has an interesting character of prosperous Yeda Kavi (mad poet) who believes in organic farming: neither does he use any pesticides and nor does he cut out weeds completely. In one scene, he instructs children that earthworms are farmer’s friend. (By the way, the Marathi for earthworm suspiciously sounded like ‘gandu’ to me, is that right? Update: Word is gandool, which sounds like ‘gandu’.) These farming tips are well interspersed in movie, perhaps one of most useful messages of the movie. It makes sense considering this movie (as far as I gathered from Google) has been screened for several farmers around the state of Maharashtra.
The second half of the movie plays your heartstrings very well. I would know, for I tried hard to stifle my sobs. But though this movie touches your heart, it is not meant to be a sentimental sob story. It has a clear aim: It entertains you while recounting a meaningful story.
The performances by entire cast were superb. I will specially mention two performances: Bharat Jadhav’s nuanced performance for the role of a debt-ridden farmer Mouli, who is rapidly losing his confidence, his place in the world, with every passing day. Second being that of kid Shyam, played by Chinmay Kambli. Lastly, kudos to director Nitin Nandan for making such a gripping movie.
JCG is a recommended watch and the movie releases today. It is available with English subtitles.
P.S: I must make a reference to Harini who is a co-producer of this movie and owns a production house Cogito Media. It was she who mentioned the movie premier in Pune on Twitter. She graciously offered me passes as well. Thanks Harini, it was a pleasure to watch the movie.
Also, you can read about JCJ shooting process here.
P.P.S: JCJ was third Marathi movie I watched after Harishchandrachi factory and Natarang. And I find a common spirit: In each of these movies, passion wins against all odds. Dadasaheb Phalke’s passion in Harishchandrachi factory to learn art of film-making and make it available regionally in face of lack of finance and eye troubles; Guna’s passion for theatre despite poverty and societal pressures and biases and lastly Shyam’s never-say-die zeal that wouldn’t let him accept his fate without fight.
P.P.P.S: By the way, unlike Om Shanti Om, Paulo Cohelo finally gets his due for the quote: When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. 😛
P.P.P.P.S: Imagine someone committing suicide over paltry 10k. That was my credit card bill for this month. 😦 After watching the movie, concepts like Rangde.org made more sense to me.