The plot of Jail Yatra is nothing special. It's got several of the standard masala elements, with separated family members, coincidences, irony, and plenty of dishoom-dishoom action, but it lacks the inspired lunacy of the best of genre. Still, it's an enjoyable watch, based mainly on the performances of Vinod Khanna and Ashok Kumar.
From the DVD cover, I expected Vinod Khanna to be playing a hard-bitten thug again, as in Parvarish and Chor Sipahee. This turned out, however, to be far from the case. In Jail Yatra, he plays Raju Verma, a good-hearted (and somewhat simple-minded) mechanic. Although Raju always has good intentions, he tends to wind up in trouble quite regularly.
He never spends more than about 5 minutes in jail, however, before his mother arrives and uses her special Nirupa Roy powers of long-suffering ma-ness to get him released -- everyone decides to drop charges against him just to get her to stop.
Fortunately for the viewer, Raju soon takes off for Bombay, leaving his mom behind to cry or whatever she does in her free time. Before he leaves, his mother finally tells why he never had a father around -- she left after discovering that his father was having an affair with one of his clients.
Before too long, however, we learn that Raju's father (Ashok Kumar) is innocent of such charges. In fact, he met the client in secret because her brother had just escaped from jail and wanted to obtain legal advice without alerting the police to his whereabouts. The poor man now lives a very unhappy life with a rotten scoundrel whom he believes to be his son (Amjad Khan) and a woman in a bad wig, who told him that his wife committed suicide and left their son in her care.
Fed up with his son (and his dietary restrictions), he decides to commit suicide by jumping in front of a car. It just so happens, however, that Raju is driving this car. He stops the car quickly and gives his unbeknownst-to-him father a lecture about how suicide is a dumb idea. This meeting naturally provides a chance for the movie to get in some requisite Hindi Film Irony.
More importantly, it also marks the begining of a beautiful friendship. Whether they're making fun of each other or singing a qawalli in disguise, these two are awesome together.
Raju finds his new friend a job and a place to stay, and Raju's dad helps him come up with a plot to win the girl he's in love with, a psychiatrist named Shanu (Reena Roy). At this point, we learn where Raju got his tendency to come up with dumb ideas for carrying out good intentions. They go to Shanu and pretend that Raju needs psychiatric treatment because, well, he's a traumatized rape victim who is now afraid of all women. This subplot is sometimes quite funny and sometimes rather uncomfortable to watch.
Overall, though, it's a pleasant little movie, with nice happy songs (including one where Vinod and Reena are amusingly dressed in matching overalls), lots of masala action, multiple subplots, and plenty of Vinod being awesome.
Oh, and there's a wooden horse that also serves as a bar. You've gotta love Hindi film interior decorating.
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