Welcome to the ambit of anarchy. Set in Bihar like "Shool", "Mrityudand", "Gangaajal" and other films on ministerial mayhem, "Insaaf: The Justice" rocks the formulistic boat so hard that it topples over under the weight of its own misguided self-importance.
Debutant director Shrey Shrivasatva's film is based on a headline-making story from Bihar when a civil servant committed suicide after his wife was repeatedly raped by a political goon.
The real-life criminal and his mother who abetted the crime were serving a prison sentence for the crime when Shrivastava decided to make a film out of it.
Theoretically the theme lends itself to a potentially explosive expose on crime and chaos in Bihar. The director has spared no effort to portray the state as festering with corruption and lawlessness.
Goons stalk Shrivastava's film with stock insouciance. In one sequence, a victim of car jacking is shocked out of his wits when he sees his stolen vehicle parked at the chief minister's residence. The chief minister, played by Shrivallabh Vyas, tells the man to cough up a certain amount and take his car home.
The preamble sets the mood for the main plot about the civil servant's encounter with uncivil politics in Bihar. When a goon, Bunty (newcomer Dayal S.), barges into the bureaucrat's home and rapes his wife, Kunti (Namrata Shirodkar), his politician-mother (Kunika) and the chief minister tell the ravaged woman to keep mum. But the upright bureaucrat refuses to hush up the matter.
His fight to his last breath -- the film starts with his suicide -- communicates the anguish of a well-placed man's efforts to see justice done in his own home.
The goons look real and the tacky sets and locations serve the film's rough-cut purposes well.
However, the technical and continuity lapses are too glaring to be overlooked. Rajpal Yadav who plays a small-time hoodlum speaks in a dubbed voice. More unforgivably, some of Namrata's lines are spoken in an alien voice.
It's the second-half where the upright cop Abhimanyu (Dino Morea) takes on the might of the political mafia that rings false and reduces real-life crime to a film with cheap thrills.
Punctuated by absolutely unwanted romantic songs and bouts of verbal crudeness, "Insaaf" is made less insufferable by it its cast. Namrata is lovely and tragic as a woman who is violated so brutally.
In some sequences after the rape she stands tall in the midst of boorishness, like a lone flower braving a blizzard. Wonder what's keeping her from getting more roles that tap her potential in films that are less aggressive in tone.
Sanjay Suri as her supportive husband is as usual underplayed and authentic. The wallpaper quality in his personality is in sharp contrast to the in-your-face tone of this film.
Dino in his super-heroic cop-on-a-mission role makes a sincere effort to go beyond the make-believe ambience. Over the years, he's shaped into a decent actor with a discernible control over his personality.
Even when placed in utterly crude situations the three main actors hold their own. But they aren't enough to dispel the audiences' uneasy feeling of having viewed a film that turns social tension into an occasion for screeching sensationalism.
The long-drawn climax, where the raped woman batters, tries to replicate the mob fury of N. Chandra's "Pratighaat". But the mob is miniscule and the fury fabricated.