Jengaburu Curse ( Sony Liv Series/ Thriller)
Director- Nila Madhab Panda
Cast – Faria Abdullah, Melanie Gray, Nasser, Makarand Deshpande, Sudev Nair, Deipak Sampat
Nila Madhab Panda is a filmmaker whose films have usually had relevant subjects at the heart, whether it is award winning “I am Kalam” or “Jalpari :The Desert Mermaid “ or “Kadvi Hawa “ Or “Halka”. With Jengaburu Curse, he forays into thriller series and I am mighty impressed by the way he blends this genre with what his forte is, i.e to bring forth a concerning subject.
Priya Das is a financial analyst well settled in London. When her father in India goes missing, she comes back to Odisha to look for him, back to her roots and to a dark & thick conspiracy . Is her father dead or alive? Who is behind his kidnapping ?Is it something to do with a heavily guarded bauxite mine with something nefarious going on inside or is it the naxals or the govt and police ?She’s not the only one trying to get to the root of this mystery.International funding / Naxals/ Police/ Politics..the enemy is powerful and dangerous and there are many dots for her join.
The story opens with beautiful childhood memories when Priya spent her vacations in her ancestral village soaked in their unique culture, traditional belief system that worships Mother Earth and Nature.Cut to present times, the air is thick with conspiracy. No one can be relied upon. There’s threat to life. Loaded with chases, lurking danger, deception, lies and revelations, the screenplay of the 7 episode series is deliciously layered in a way that you are constantly intrigued and totally gripped even though you do have a fair amount of idea where it is headed.The mild mystery, aided by a good cast, wonderful cinematography and melodious background score makes for an engrossing watch.They do flounder in the culminating episode ( it has become quite a scenario in many a series these days).But that could be easily taken in stride considering how good it is otherwise and its overwhelming message and plea.
Incidentally I had recently read about the issue, from which the story is inspired, in a geography chapter of my son’s textbook. But stories are more impactful than written facts and statistics. And that is why story tellers like Nila Madhab Panda need to be appreciated. Through their art and utilising the outreach of cinema , they make sure the message hits you in the right pace.(Google search about Niyamgiri Hills, Gond Tribe and Bauxite mines, but only after you have watched , to avoid any spoilers) There is fictional narrative woven around it but the story well conveys what it was meant to.
The series not only entertains you, but raises concerns ,moves you with an intensity and leaves you plunged into thoughts.Watch out for the beautifully designed credits design and the background score.
It brings to fore, the permanent tussle between development and conservation, raises concerns about its consequences, worsened by greed and corruption. It warns you where the world is headed.The tussle for minerals is round the corner ( just read an article in TOI about it this week) and extent of snooping and tracking in terms of cyber security is scary.
Highly recommended for all age groups including your youngsters.