Mumbai, Nov 3, 2023- Film: ‘UT 69’ (Playing in cinemas) Duration: 117 mins 20 sec Director – Shahnawaz Ali Cast- Raj Kundra Rating – ****
‘UT69’, directed by Shahnawaz Ali, takes a daring plunge into the turbulent experiences of entrepreneur Raj Kundra during his time in Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail.
The film has been co-written by Raj Kundra, Vikram Bhatti, and Ali, and supported by SVS Studios.
It offers a satirical narrative that peels back the layers of the struggles faced by those awaiting trial or bail, compelled to co-exist with hardened criminals under dismal jail conditions.
The narrative opens with Raj Kundra’s arrival at Arthur Road Jail, unjustly packed in a van and subjected to the dehumanising routine of cavity searches and bullying despite no proof of guilt.
Portraying himself, Kundra emerges as a well-mannered, upper-class individual trapped in the complexities of a porn case, providing a lens into his real-life experiences behind bars.
From the film’s outset, it unravels a harrowing account of an innocent individual subjected to bullying, hygiene neglect, sleep deprivation, and insufficient food, painting a stark picture of the unjust treatment faced by someone not proven guilty of any crime.
Remarkably, the film’s creators have beautifully sketched the microcosm of jail life, as they effectively narrate a story that operates on multiple levels. It unravels the plight of the innocent, the brutal reality of life within the jail, the presence of hardened inmates, the absence of basic necessities, poor sustenance, and the callousness of indifferent officials.
The screenplay’s brilliance lies in its dialogues, emphasising the discomforting interactions and simmering sarcasm aimed at a system that inflicts horrendous treatment without verifying guilt. While the first half sets the stage by establishing characters and the jail’s routine, the latter half is all about the humanistic aspect of the story.
The unspoken camaraderie among inmates, the search for solace amidst a grim routine, and the unexplained bonds among detainees are skillfully portrayed throughout the course of the narrative. The film serves as a testament not only to Kundra’s ordeal but also to the dismal conditions in jails and the apathy of the officials.
As Kundra, anticipatingly, forms bonds with fellow inmates before departing, the voiceover by Shilpa Shetty adds authenticity. The brief phone conversation between Kundra and Shetty stands out amid the stark realism of the film.
‘UT69’ marks Kundra’s cinematic debut, using his traumatic experiences to highlight the unfair treatment faced by someone not proven guilty. The film brings to light the media frenzy, online harassment, and premature labeling of individuals as offenders without conclusive evidence.
In conclusion, ‘UT69’ is far from a conventional drama; it’s an experimental exploration standing on its own merits. It’s not akin to ‘Sanju’ but a distinct and a bold attempt to delve into the dark realities faced by individuals caught in the wheels of an unforgiving system. It provokes contemplation about the fairness of the justice system and societal perceptions of guilt and innocence. (Agency)