Rating: 2.5/5 stars (Two And Half Stars)
Director: Prakash Jha
What’s Good: A well intentioned social drama.
What’s Bad: Over dramatic, fractured script and a plot that goes haywire.
Loo break: Too many!
Watch or Not?: Prakash Jha’s Satyagraha is an altruistic film with a clearly positive motive at heart. However, with a script that drags, characters that are both predictable and caricatures Jha has made you familiar with in his previous films, this one is a tiresome tirade!
Dwarkanath Anand (Amitabh Bachchan) is an upright, moralistic man who has his principles in the right place. The film begins with a clash of ideologies between Dwarka and his son Akhilesh’s (Indraneil Sengupta) friend Manav Raghvendra (Ajay Devgn).
After Akhilesh dies in a mishap, a local minister announces a compensatory amount for Akhilesh’s wife Sumitra (Amrita Rao). Despite taking innumerable trips of the local office, she is unable to procure the amount given the corruption at a grass root level. An agonized Dwarka slaps the collector following the face-to-face debacle! Though he is imprisoned, Manav along with local politician Arjun(Arjun Rampal) and journalist Yasmin (Kareena Kapoor) trigger off an entire campaign against corruption by mobilizing the masses of the city!
Inspired from the real life instance of Anna Hazare’s Jan Lokpal Andolan, Satyagraha blends fact, fiction and slices from history to make a well intentioned film.
Satyagraha Review: Script Analysis
The story that I was expecting to be gritty ended up grating my nerves. Coming from Prakash Jha, a man whose Damul ranks amongst my personal favorites, the fan inside me was severely bruised. This is a poorly researched film that bends below his standard. Maintaining a politically righteous stance, it is commendable that the man has given his take on corruption, but for most part the script is both frustrating and convoluted.
Based on Anna Hazare’s campaign, the story lacks the usual gripping tendency that Raajneeti or Chakravyuh had. Anchored on real life events, the director played safe with a politically correct ending that lectures you against turning rebellious.
There are far too many flaws than I can point. Ajay’s character had a strong driving force and perhaps the most meticulously written one. The local leader, the widowed daughter-in-law and even the renowned journalist are all mere shadow of characters without any real conviction in place. If they weren’t actors you knew, they would easily settle into being extras. The romantic track between Ajay and Kareena is stark, sudden, unexpected and absolutely an unnecessary diversion in the story. Their (cheat) kissing scene will crack you up. Being the same actors who brought soul to their characters in Vishal Bharadwaj’s Omkara, their chemistry was utterly dull in this film.
At many crucial places in the first film’s first half, you’ll lose interest. There are a very unintended comic moments that I recommend you don’t miss for the sheer lameness. ‘Jantaaaa Rockkssss’ is a rock song which professes the power of common people. I really wish Prasoon Joshi had used some other words than these!
Manoj Bajpai still remains the same scheming antagonist playing a character with the same shades, only a different name! It’s a surprise he hasn’t got bored of playing the same role over and over again! Frankly I am tired of watching him do the same feat all the time! Given his talent, he might consider putting it to some better use.
I was hounded by a plethora of visions while watching the film. Prakash Jha’s previous films and Anna Hazare’s campaign apart, you’ll be reminded of the ‘Chauri Chaura’ incident which dismissed Gandhi’s popular Non-Cooperation Movement. Somehow the ending seemed very similar to Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Rang De Basanti, just a little less impactful and diluted version of it. A messy hotch potch of too many issues, Satyagraha failed because of an overambitious plot that couldn’t encapsulate the zest of its theme lucidly.
Satyagraha Review: Star Performances
Amitabh Bachchan with a colossal screen presence towers over most of the other characters. He still talks, walks and speaks like a superstar, no wonder he is called the Shehenshah of Bollywood.
Ajay Devgn is adequate in his role, but fails to render the required dramatic punch to it.
Kareena Kapoor is nothing like the veteran Christiane Amanpour, her character was rumored to be essayed on. Hard to decipher her philosophies, the script invests very little time ensuring she has an ample role to present a counter view.
Arjun Rampal settled for an unusually flimsy role and after seeing him as Rudra Pratap Singh in D-Day, I feel Jha could not efficiently bring out the impulsive side that he intended to evoke from him ala Raajneeti.
Amrita Rao is shaky and definitely looks overshadowed by the other brilliant actors on screen.
And lastly, Manoj Bajpai is a bellowing, scheming, sly politician – a role he has mastered after regularly playing it in Jha’s stints. He is near perfect in his portrayal but the wickedness of the character remains unjustified!
Satyagraha Review: Direction, Editing and Music
Prakash Jha furthers his prevalent problem and he still shies away from making a notoriously compelling point. From a confident filmmaker like him, who ventures into risky terrains of bold cinema that are social commentaries, his characters have become stereotypical – an upright man of values, a young counterview of the same (a consumerist in this case) and a turbulent scheme of things! Still the philosophical dilemma is gripping in parts, mostly in the film’s second half. The impact of the powerful moments are rather ephemeral and a very few scenes manage to touch you. The scene where Dwarkanath breaks down at the spot where his son died is pristinely shot, but sadly Jha gives us these overwhelming tinges in rarity this time. The screenplay is shackled and the editing is shadily done as the film treads at a tedious 150 minutes plus show. The music is mediocre and nothing except ‘Raghupati Raghav’ will give you goosebumps.
Satyagraha Review: The Last Word
Prakash Jha’s Satyagraha is a weightless film that leaves by a transitory impact on its audiences. Wasting the enigma of such talented bunch of actors, the film with its overbearing story and its erratically structured plot lacks the much needed blaze. Emerging as a warped product of political correctness with an unconvincing climax, somehow the entire product had the stench of unbearable staleness. It wasn’t a terrible film, just not the promising Prakash Jha venture you might have wanted to watch. I am settling for a 2.5/5 for this film. You might have to drag yourself to hear the lecturing saga on corruption, but it is bearable only for a one-time shot!
Satyagraha releases on 30th August, 2013.
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