Star Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Soumitra Chattopadhyay, Sraman Chatterjee, Amrita Chattopadhyay & Ensemble.
Director: Saibal Mitra.
What’s Good: Naseeruddin, Soumitra & a stellar group of people decided to talk about an unbiased take on religious fanaticism and the need for realism without belittling either party. Almost political therapy!
What’s Bad: You, if you don’t watch this one by keeping your biases outside the room for exactly 2.5 hours.
Loo Break: Definitely not. Yes, some moments will make you uncomfortable regardless of which side of the spectrum you are. Face that moment, be vulnerable, and question yourself.
Watch or Not?: Watch, watch, watch!
Language: Bengali & English (with subtitles).
Available On: In Theatres Near You.
Runtime: 143 Minutes
A Tribal school teacher is put in prison without the privilege of a trial for denying to teach the concept of Genesis from the Holy Bible and putting Charles Darwin’s Theory Of Evolution Over It (read that again). Soon begin the court trials and ideologies are put to test and questioned. Does mythology overpower science? are we fed agenda by the powerful in the name of faith? are we clever enough to understand that no matter our academic qualification? These uncomfortable questions start floating around.
A Holy Conspiracy Movie Review: Script Analysis
“The right to think is on trial”, says Adv. Anton D’Souza (Naseeruddin), “No, a man is on trial,” argues the opposition. “HE IS A THINKING MAN,” shouts Anton. Look around you, in your phone, maybe your newspaper, or the latest TV debate on national news, we are living a life of fanaticism in different degrees, and dare you to connect that word only to people following religious beliefs. The Holy Conspiracy is just that.
Set the camera on a wide angle and look at yourself in an argument. Precisely call it a bird’s eye view of a fight you are having to safeguard your ideology. Does that make you uncomfortable? Is there any difference between you and the one you label fanatic? Saibal Mitra in his writing is weaving a narrative around this very thought without creating a villain out of the two parties fighting. But he manages to educate you that it is always the person away from your sight that benefits.
The Holy Conspiracy is about a man who chooses science over faith and education over future spiritual awakening. Taking inspiration from Tennessee State vs James Thomas case that took place in 1988, the Mitra directorial explores the two sides of system that knows nothing but their truth. Go online read about the case and your mind will be blown. Here in the movie, we see faith and facts fighting in the court over a crime that is not even a crime in the first place.
Mitra knows he is walking a very risky path. But he is also ultra smart to not fall into the trap that his predecessors have. Like his subject, he sticks to facts and warranted opinions rather than heavy dialogues and speeches. He doesn’t ridicule one idea to make the other shine. Throughout the film, he keeps on shuffling the ball, and you as an audience have to choose whom to support. The man in the criminal box represents many of us, and so do the ones fighting against and for him. And so does the one who is sitting above them all but is still oppressed by the men with extreme power.
It’s simple. Everyone has a right to think, and to follow beliefs. But none imposes them on others. But if this basic law was understood by the masses, the politics wouldn’t survive, the agendas won’t last and we would have harmony which is just a word until now. Mitra also tells a story about all of this visually. The cracking ceiling of the court that falls right where the judge sits, or the tribal people waiting outside the jail in scorching heat to meet their kit and kins while an upper-class man easily walks into the jail comes out and sits in his AC car in a few minutes. Or even the landscape where every god is shown in a way that they are trying to prove their precedence over the land.
He even acknowledges the fact that Christians are indeed a minority but that doesn’t minus the wrongs. So does he talk about the obsession of pseudo Hindu politicians with ‘Gharwapsi’ and its direct connection to vote banks? Now you know why I call this a brave movie?
There is a lot to unravel, but the biggest takeaway has to be the fact that the movie is extremely brave from all corners. It says the truth, not your or mine, but universal. Education is the way. Religion might be your hook but it is education that will strengthen the wall it is put on.
A Holy Conspiracy Movie Review: Star Performance
Naseeruddin Shah and his calibre are way above my validation. I can only look at the art and be in awe. The actor is a treat and so natural. He kind of plays himself. Watch him in some of his interviews, you will only learn a thing or two. Here he plays a Goan man living in a tribal village. Not for once does he let the energy of the entire movie dip.
But he does have a competition too. Late Thespian Soumitra Chattopadhyay plays the man who supports the Bible and is a blind follower. Mitra writes him as a misguided man and a fanatic, but not for once you are allowed to judge him for his choice. The master actor even plays the part in a way that you cannot hate him for having faith in something. This is how you write two sides and play them!
Sraman Chatterjee is a man of few words. He certainly might have lived this story in his head over and over to have those expressions on his face. He is the scapegoat for a local politicians to fill his vote banks. Amrita Chattopadhyay lives in a dilemma and the actor plays it so well. It is her who is being indirectly put to trial not just for being Sraman’s fiancé but even a woman. Goose flesh!
A Holy Conspiracy Movie Review: Direction, Music
Saibal Mitra deserves to be celebrated for pulling off a script this complex and that too with two of the most legendary stars to have ever walked on Earth. The filmmaker knows the talent he has on board and even their capabilities, so he makes them underplay their parts because he knows their impact. Subtlety is the tool he keeps handy and that helps. But he doesn’t know where to end. The last 5 minutes where he kind of tries to simplify his message by making the characters converse looks stretched and unneeded. Dilutes the impact.
Whoever thought of the guy dressed as Lord Ram being almost every where but still clueless about what’s happening, you have won my heart just for that idea. The Gods never asked for protection. They are Gods for a reason.
The music, while it takes off fabulously and appears only when needed, there are also points where it feels like a mismatch.
A Holy Conspiracy Movie Review: The Last Word
It is not every day you come across a brave film and certainly not ones that are backed by legendary voices. Watch this one with the highest volume and let each word enlighten you for a better tomorrow.
A Holy Conspiracy Trailer
A Holy Conspiracy releases on 29 July, 2022.
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Yet to watch Rajkummar Rao’s thriller? Read our Hit Movie Review here.