The Jengaburu Curse review: There is a thin line between reality and the narrative been fed to you. Unfortunately the curse of this series is not being able to crack that line!
The Jengaburu Curse review: Climate change is not a thing of the future anymore. If today we are witnessing unexpected heat, rain, cold in either extreme, we know it's because of climate change. Considered to be India's first cli-fi aka climate fiction made by National award filmmaker Nila Madhab Panda, The Jengaburu Curse lacks the oomph of a mystery thriller drama with a documentary style making.
Set in Odisha, a London-based financial analyst Priya Das (Faria Abduallah) returns home as her father, a professor and activist, Swatantra Das seems to have gone missing. During the course of these seven episodes, while trying to find truth about her father, she unveils the geopolitics involving displacement of tribals, naxal violence, illegal mining, global nuclear power struggles, impact of capitalism and industrialisation. Underlying with the theme of science vs mythology and stating a powerful message of killing of nature for human greed, the series makes you struggle to push yourself to root for the drama because of exceptionally good intentions but the faulty execution and lack of emotion makes it a draining experience.
Taking into consideration that this is a show made by Nila Madhab Panda (I am Kalam, Kadvi Hawa) who is known for his films on ecological and cultural perspectives, Jengabruru Curse is rich in its cultural rootedness from the true depiction of tribals with their code languages, and struggles of being accorded as naxals (rebels) to real locations and streets of Odisha. Every character is performed well by the entire cast, from a small constable to a minister, an IAS Officer, tribals, activists, foreign whistle lower, mining industry heads, and more seems genuine and like it's coming out of well oiled and researched material.
But lack of structure in big revelations, and emotionally stiltedness doesn't help you connect to the series where you feel with them. It's like you are witnessing everyone going through this excruciating and unfair world and system yet you can't attach to them. An important character's death or even the main protagonist's entire journey of running, crying, hiding, rising up, and fighting isn't an inspirational one. But it's not like things on paper doesn't have the power of being an engaging ecological thriller because every ingredient is there. Rather it's storytelling techniques just aren't cooked well enough and that stops you from enjoying the thoughtfulness of the show.
Over foreshadowing leading to predictability ruining the twists that are unnecessarily forced fed everywhere, jumping from one action sequence to another without passion, shaky and random camera shots, dubbing issues, crew being visible on certain occasions, and many more add to this technical disturbance pawned off as creative liberty. It isn't a bad show. It's just harder to buy into its ambition.
In this fast pace churning out content cycle, more often than not, most of us buy into meek or weak storytelling because of conscious and noble objectives. But how far can you stretch it? As the truth of Odisha deserves to have some light being shed on it! Because we all know deep in our hearts that on ground reality is rather different than the narrative that is fed to us.
The Jengaburu Curse is currently streaming on SonyLIV!
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