By Pritam Bhattarai
Let loose after three years of imprisonment in a fake currency note case, into a society heavily influenced by money and power, the three friends, Phanindra (Bipin Karki), Joyash (Rabindra Singh Baniya) and Munna (Rabindra Jha) find it difficult to survive.
They are tagged criminal by society, though the court gives them a clean chit in the case.
In its prequel, ‘Jatra’, they were imprisoned for three years in a fake currency note case.
Like in ‘Jatra’, ‘Jatrai Jatra’ directed by Pradip Bhattarai presents the three leading characters confronted with new-found riches, which confound them for a while.
The plot centers around the struggle of the characters to keep the 10 kilograms smuggled gold bars found accidentally by Phanindra just like in its prequel ‘Jatra’ wherein they had to struggle to keep Rs 30 million found accidentally again by Phanindra.
The characters are also shown involved in a gold smuggling case.
But unlike in ‘Jatra’, ‘Jatrai Jatra’ ends on a happy note as most comedy movies do, with the characters finding a way out.
The main three characters are driven by the perception that earning money is the only way to earn respect in society.
Their desperate drive to earn money and power is fuelled by circumstances (Phanindra facing repeatedly insulting remarks by his wealthy brother-in-law and father-in-law just for being poor, Munna has to pay his debt and is often warned by land-owner of vacating his salon for his inability to pay the rent and Joyash has not been able to pay rent for his retail readymade shop for months).
By circumstances or things the three characters call them God’s grace, Phanindra accidentally finds 10 kilograms smuggled gold bars while taking a group of people on a tour (he plays a taxi driver).
Obviously, he, as an innocent and honest person, initially thinks of getting rid of the gold found.
But his compulsion to level up in the society and earn respect for his family (wife Sapu, played by Barsha Raut) and himself by buying a house, a car for his wife in particular (who is from a wealthy family) and to enroll his only son in a reputed and wealthy private school, forces him to keep the gold with himself.
As time passes, he is so much determined to keep the gold with himself that he does not reveal it even when he is tortured by the smugglers (Dawa, played by Dayahang Rai, and his people).
Phanindra does not tell the secret to even close friends (Joyash and Munna) with whom he shares a rented room and a prison cell in the case of forgery of bank notes).
Later, he is made by circumstances to reveal it to his friends, Joyash and Munna. (Phanindra does not live with his family as his wife is cross with him for his inability to provide for the family (she at a point makes up her mind to divorce him).
Jatrai Jatra tells the story of how the common people who are often from outside Kathmandu and living in the central capital are struggling to fit into the society empowered by money and power.
Smooth flow of the story, skilled acting, and coherence between the scenes are what help the movie become beautiful.
Except for a few scenes, the development of each episode is related and concluded logically, and no question mark is left.
Characters speak the colloquial language, and you need to have use brain to understand laughter often triggered by double-meaning words used by the characters unlike cheap laughter in so-called comedy Nepali movies.
The plot also touches on domestic violence and male sexual advances [Sapu is forced to face sexual advances by her brother-in-law when living in his house while her husband (Phanindra) is in jail].
But her failure to protest and come out in public about it right away makes women rely on male partners to go against it. (She talks about it only when her husband is with her and when she feels they are going to become a millionaire by selling the gold found by her husband).
But her attempt to survive on her own by operating a tea shop is praiseworthy. Bipin Karki as versatile always shows his talent in the movie to his best.
He is fit into the role given to him. He is neatly fit into the character wanted at any moment in the movie ranging from the moment of happiness, pain, laughter and chaos.
Every time he is a natural human being.
His facial expression and body movements are natural.
Munna’s Madhesi tone is also well fit into his character. He is an astute character. Joyash is given a bit long role in the movie unlike in its prequel. He has also done justice to his character.
Likewise, Sapu is a sober and sensitive woman. But her pain, agony and sadness are expressed on her face.
One of the best aspects of the movie is that the director concludes the movie in a way that the audience cannot guess (unlike often in other Nepali movies).
The characters (mainly Phanindra, Joyash and Munna are helpless before circumstances as they are controlled by them. Phanindra is honest and disciplined throughout the movie, but he is compelled to keep the smuggled gold he finds and aspires to become rich through the means of illegal activities.
While committing illegal activities, he still says that he is honest and wants to stay away from any means of illegal activities.
The movie not only gives laughter, but it also touches on a serious note. The struggle of the three protagonists and Phanindra’s family to survive is a heart touching situation.
If you are bored by the kind of cheap laughter often served by Nepali comedy movies, Jatrai Jatra is the movie much entertaining and worth more than the money you have paid for a ticket. I rate the movie 3.5 stars out of 5.