Jaya Ganga

Jaya Ganga


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

An Indian writer, Nishant, is making a journey down the Ganges, starting from the frozen Himalayas. He is a bit vague about why he's doing it and seemingly ill-equipped. He sets off with a socking great backpack and half way through has been reduced to a student's shoulder bag.

Religion is not the reason for this expedition. It's a girl, called Jaya, whom he fantasises about, once glimpsed in Paris, who will be waiting at the river's end. Or so he believes.

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Meanwhile, on the lower slopes of the mountain, he comes upon a beautiful dancer, called Zehra, who works in a brothel, and persuades her to run away with him.

Is this love? How can he betray the beguiling, mysterious Jaya for a naive country girl? Zehra believes him when he says they will live in Paris and she'll dance in the clubs and be rich and happy.

Vijay Singh is one of India's most prestigious novelists. Jaya Ganga is based on one of his stories and is his first film as writer/director. The idea is more literate than cinematic, that those who seek perfection lose what they have in the quest, because reality is less seductive than illusion.

Smriti Mishra, as Zehra, conveys the skills of a woman who knows her way around men and the insecurity of a girl who has been abused too often. Asil Rais, as Nishant, lacks the charm you might expect from such a role, but is excellent at implying emotional confusion. It is a pity that Singh's script has little more to it than as a lesson to romantic young men who revere the lyricism of poetic metaphor more than the complexity of a woman's mind.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Young Indian writer travels down the Ganges in search of a mysterious woman.

Director: Vijay Singh

Writer: Vijay Singh

Starring: Asil Rais, Smriti Mishra, Jean-Claude Carrière, Anupam Shyam, Vijay Singh, Paula Klein

Year: 1999

Runtime: 85 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: India


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