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The Jengaburu Curse Is Deep Dark Exploratory & Explosive



The Jengaburu Curse(SonyLIV,7 episodes)

Rating: *** ½

Nila Madhab Panda’s  OTT debut is  quite  an  achievement.  Panda’s cinema has  always been extremely conscious of ecological  imbalances and climate warming.To create an  expose  on the plundering  of the eco-system  without  dragging the  content down to  an  expository level, is not easy.

Panda achieves a laudatory  synthesis  of a  climatic  message  and a gripping thriller. Outwardly The Jengaburu Case  is  about an NRI girl Priya Das’s search in Odisha for  her missing father who may or may have Naxal links. As Priya flows her father’s footprints in the slush I was reminded  of Jaya Bachchan in Govind Nihalani’s Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa.

The mystery surrounding the patriarch’s disappearance  is explored  through various conspiracy theories, none in the realm of the implausible, except when at  midpoint Priya,played with remarkable restraint and understanding  by a Hyderabad-based actress Farida Abdullah(whom we need to see more of on the OTT platform) , decides to play superwoman.

Priya’s  self-appointed role  as  her father’s finder is way out of  league with the believable tone of  rest of the series This, however  doesn’t deter the sense  of  progressive dread that  the director and  his  skilled writer Mayank Tiwari  have stitched into the storytelling.

The Jengaburu Curse weaves  tribal tradition into the culture of devastation.There are loose ends  and limp passages in the storytelling. But these do not diminish the overall impact of  the content which  is at once tense dense and  chilling.

The actors are  frequently local artistes  from Odisha. They confer a  compelling authenticity  to  the  overall  presentation. Nila Madhab Panda is  never out to  impress us. His  command over the  language of  political bullying is at times startling. There is a shocking episode where a corrupt  police officer(Shrikant Varma,brilliant)  physically roughs up  Priya in the jungle. Her shock at how creaky  the bureaucratic wheels have become in  our country, is  a shared moment of anguish for us the  spectators.

I am  not too happy with the ‘climax’ where the villains  and the lawmakers  shoot at one  another in a very filmy style. I understand there is  no  easy solution to the massive corruption in our country. The Jengaburu Curse  will remind you that the tool of social reform is finally in  the hands of each one of us.

The  authentic  locations, even for an incidental shot at the airport, augment the credibility  of this  investigative thriller considerably.

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