About the story: Sahil (Jash Trivedi), seven-year-old only son of police inspector Veer Chauhan (Jackie Shroff) and his wife Naina (Raveena Tandon), falls ill with leukemia, and without a bone marrow donation his days will be counted soon. But as Sahil has a very rare blood type, the search for a donor turns out to be very difficult and finally scores only one hit: fourteen-fold murderer Balwinder Singh, called Balli (Sanjay Dutt) whom Veer himself had jailed four years ago where Balli since then is serving a life term. Now Veer is forced to plead with Balli who sadistically enjoys this new situation to the fullest. Only Naina’s vehement begging makes Balli finally agree – but the moment before the operation, he manages to escape. Together with his girlfriend Tara (Shilpa Shetty) and his buddy Lacchu (Neeraj Vora), Balli starts to settle some old bills with gangster Moosa (Saurav Shukla) while being chased by the police, led by Veer’s archenemy inspector Khan (Aditya Pancholi). As Veer knows that Khan prefers killing criminals to arresting them, he nearly goes mad with fear for, after all, he needs Balli alive. So a race against the time begins...
Jung – The Battle for Life was ill-starred. Producer Satish Tandon and director Sanjay Gupta must have fought several backstage battles which resulted in Tandon getting some scenes shot without Gupta. Gupta’s name disappeared from the credits, and Sanjay Dutt, in an act of solidarity with his friend, refused to dub the film and distanced himself from Jung, recommending the audience to ignore it. At the end of the day, Jung got indifferent reviews and was a box-office flop, and that’s really too bad as it is a good and thrilling film, in spite of some dramaturgic waggles (maybe resulting from the backstage war) and some question marks in the story. E.g. why is Balli presented not just as fourteen-fold murderer (as if this wasn’t already enough) but also as psychopath? Nowhere in the movie Balli does anything which would justify this rating: After his escape, he acts very considerately, shows to have brains, never loses track, genuinely loves his girlfriend, and he doesn’t kill a man who cheated him and wanted to send him to his doom, but lets him live, saying "this shall be your punishment". No psychopath on earth would do so. Another question mark is a decision Veer makes towards the end of the film, for though it is honorable and human, it remains out of all reasons and, after all what happened before, not comprehensible.
In Jung, Sanjay Dutt once again justifies his reputation as Hindi Cinema’s parade actor for gangster roles: ice-cold eyes, always alert and, if necessary, ruthless and pitiless, doing action sequences which simply have style (I just mention the office chair) – but on the other hand, even his most unscrupulous killers always maintain human facets. In this case, he shows them above all in Balli's interactions with his girlfriend Tara. Shilpa Shetty turns out as a positive surprise, carving out a strong and self-confident character absolutely credible to gain the respect and even a marriage proposal of a criminal like Balli. Only her make-up takes a bit getting used to. With his killer-inspector Khan, Aditya Pancholi redeems himself for his rather unsuccessful gangster boss in Baaghi. Jackie Shroff as the father worrying for his son’s life was criminally neglected in the film’s second half; astoundingly, he convinces most in his scenes with his son while his scenes with Sanjay, in spite of the great chemistry they usually share and in spite of the scenes’ potential, this time didn’t work to the extend I expected it. Raveena Tandon is very credible as the loving, feeling and fearful mother of a terminally ill child and also has one of the film’s most forceful scenes when she visits Balli in prison to plead for his help.
As I said: It is really a pity that this film was made under such unfavourable circumstances and therefore didn’t get more appreciation. Well, it’s not Sanju’s fault – not even because in Jung you have to do without his unique voice which always accounts a lot for Sanju’s performances and role portraits. For whoever the man is who was employed for the kamikaze mission of dubbing Sanjay Dutt: He did a terrific job. Though his timbre is a bit darker and more sonorous, he adjusts his tone colours and word melodics nearly perfectly to Sanju’s. Hats off to him – well done.
Produced by Satish Tandon; Directed by Sanjay Gupta
147 Min.; DVD: Bollywood Entertainment, English Subtitles (including songs)