Friday, 30 August 2013

My Review Satyagraha Looking For A Revolution

Director Prakash Jha

Starring  Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgn, Manoj Bajpai, Arjun Rampal, Kareena Kapoor, Amrita Rao

For a film that deals with such  relevant issues and loosely portrays one of the nation's biggest modern day Mahatama if I may say so, Satyagraha could have delivered a sucker punch.

But it remains way below the mark.

The protagonist of the story, Dwaraka Anand (Amitabh Bachchan) loses his son in a road accident. His widowed Daughter in-law Sumitra (Amrita Rao) has decided to use Rs. 25 Lacs promised by the local MLA Balram Singh (Manoj Bajpai) to build a much needed school for children, her late husband's dream. When after many rounds to the collector's office, there is no sight of the money, Dwarka Anand goes himself, and when told by the extremely rude collector the state doesn't "owe" his son anything, Dwarka, an upright citizen who has spent his life upholding his morals and duties as a citizen loses his Gandhian peace and slaps the collector resoundingly.

This is the beginning of a revolution which will finally engulf the entire Ambikapur, where the story is set and start an agitation which will gain momentum and shake the very foundations of the coalition government.

Sounds promising, it is in Jha's familiar territory of films he keeps churning out every year. It has Amitabh Bachchan and Jha's favorite Ajay Devgn, who plays Manav Raghvendra, a telecom tycoon turned revolutionary, Arjun Rampal as Arjun, a local muscle and Kareena as Yasmin Ahmad, a senior news reporter who make it their mission to see this revolution through and get justice for the people from the corrupt government.

While it has all the ingredients to make it a thumping account of what a common man's uprising can do, if fails time and again at the story level.

The first forty minutes of the film are the best. Jha shows he can deliver, that there is still a good director in him. The way he has handled the scene where Manav breaks down after his friend's death and Dwarka, the old father watches him quietly and has his eyes filled with tears and silent mourning, Jha is in total control.

Its all downhill from there.

The film is full of cliched situations and characters, Manoj Bajpai in yet another corrupt politician's role, Kareena trying her best to be convincing as a journalist but failing as she dances while covering a protest. Amrita Rao is mostly whining in a supporting role. Arjun Rampal has the weakest character, and for me did not work. Too many plots keep piling up, the angle of Dwarka's son being actually murdered at the behest of the MLA is predictable and the end is too weak.

Apart from a few scenes which work, including the one where Yasmin asks Manav "yahan kya kar rahe ho" and he says "pata nahi" and the scene on the terrace where she confronts him and he silences her with a lip lock, the film just goes on and on on the "ghisa pita" track. The dialogues are average and get boring.

The saving grace of the film are Mr. Bachchan in his scenes, given the limited scope, and Ajay Devgn, who is restrained mostly and has put in a genuine effort, but the weak story telling fails him too.

If the writers, including Jha himself, had kept a single focus and a tight narrative, this film could have worked. What it ends up being is a waste of a good idea. The over doing of social media relevance, the weak portrayal of the so called "revolution" and gaps of logic in the film make it a very tedious watch.

When will we get a chance of viewing taut, 2 hour tops dramas? one can only wonder and pray.

My Verdict 2.5/5

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