Actress: Divya Dutta
Release Date: 9th May, 2014
Cast: Seema Biswas, Yashpal Sharma, Divya Dutta, Kishor Kadam, Rajesh Khattar, Anjori Alagh
Writer/Director: Sandeep A. Varma
Plot: Set in India’s hinterland, the film follows young Manjunath Shanmugham’s journey as he passes out of the elite IIM Lucknow and joins an oil company.
One day Manjunath goes missing.
When found, Manjunath appears very frantic. Both he and his friends had realized that there is large scale adulteration of fuel taking place. It is so big that no one says anything. But Manjunath has realized that the fuel is getting adulterated with kerosene, which is sold cheaper for the ‘poorest of poor’.
This unnerves him. He has had an elite education, and that ‘if he does not do something, then who will?’.
In a dramatic sequence of events, he gets several threats to his life,yet decides to do the right thing. Surely enough, he is shot dead on duty. There seems no hope, then suddenly unrelated people combine to take the fight to the mafia, and get him justice.
Part of the unique treatment are defining conversations between the dead Manjunath and his killer.
The film uses the real story as a metaphor for larger questions.
Rating: 2.5/5 Stars (Two And Half stars)
Star cast: Seema Biswas, Yashpal Sharma,Divya Dutta, Kishor Kadam, Rajesh Khattar, Anjori Alagh
Director: Sandeep A. Varma
What’s Good: The plot of the film is filled with a powerful story at its core.
What’s Bad: Too many hitches in the film’s screenplay that eventually loses the viewer’s interest by losing the connect that was expected of it.
Loo break: Quite many.
Watch or Not?: I am still in two minds about the film. Though Manjunath is a concept that is hailed for all the right reasons, the film’s execution is badly done. If a powerful film like this doesn’t break your heart or choke you up, there are far too many faults in the film’s tapestry than that can apparently be spotted. I won’t say don’t watch the film. The potential matter at hand is enough to try watching it but don’t expect too much.
Manjunath is an employee of Indian Oil who single handedly stood up against the Oil Mafia in Uttar Pradesh. While paying higher prices for petrol has been a pressing issue in recent times, the smuggling affair is something that has best kept in the closet. While the police is well aware of the existence of the powerful oil nexus, the film deals with a plethora of issues mostly corruption that is hollowing the moral mettle of the country. We all know how this story ends but does the film provide adequate reason for it to be watched is what one has to see in Manjunath.
Manjunath Review: Script Analysis
Probably it was expectation too hefty to assume that a semi biopic will turn out smooth without hitches. To lucidly focus on the story’s theme is sometimes a challenge and in this case the filmmaker deviates and diverts more than required. The story’s power resides in its resilience but the film loses it before half way through its run time. For the entire first hour, the connect to it was dim. To be able to feel the protagonist’s pain, vulnerability or determination is primary in this film but the lack of soul cannot be argued against.
One can easily make excuses that a film of this magnitude is difficult to fold in tautly in a two hour film. But in that case Hansal Mehta’s Shahid would have been a disaster. A lot depends on how the script is written and in this case it wouldn’t be incorrect to say the writing isn’t the film’s forte. The prowess of the script could have helped churning out a better product but the lazy unimpressive writing shows sheer sloppy work.
There is so much confusion in the vein it is written. Though the story is one that must be heard, it isn’t exactly a cakewalk to sit through the exhausting trials of the man as portrayed in the film. The Shakespearean method of creating suspense is used in the film which will keep you on the edge trying to figure out whether Manjunath is really an idiot, a schizophrenic or a victim.
Manjunath can’t really sync well the reality and the drama. It is infuriating when stories with mettle are wasted. With a lack of a good back story, the film begins on a loose footing. Till the interval it drags enough to bore you to death but for the dramatically done second half and a rewarding climax, it’s almost worth bearing the film.
Manjunath Review: Star Performances
Sasho Satish Sarthy does quite a brilliant job in the titular role. Despite being a new comer, he doesn’t give you a reason to complain about the film. The actor puts up a determined portray and plays it all with consistent conviction.
Divya Dutta needs to play a more diverse character. While she is perfect in her role, she refuses to experiment much with her acting skills.
Seema Biswas is remarkable . The versatile actress plays every emotion brilliantly ensuring audiences are glued to the screens every time she is on screen. Even the film’s supporting cast does a great job. For all the odds the script, the fabulous cast cements the loopholes of the screenplay.
Manjunath Review: Direction, Editing and Screenplay
The filmmaker Sandeep Varma has attempted every possible tip in the rule book but still doesn’t quite manage to make a great film. I was specifically impressed with his take on the futility of ‘dharnas’ and candle light vigils which burn only for a day and fizz out soon and yet a man’s frantic pleas go unanswered in this country.
But when the source of Manjunath‘s inspiration is primarily verses from the Bhagwad Gita, the film seems more convoluted than believable. The character’s unrelenting honesty is fascinating but the filmmaker chose not to elucidate on it much. Somehow the director could not blend Manju’s lifestory and his honesty in the same frame and the concoction he presents isn’t exactly flattering. I am quite a fan of films based on real lives and when it is story based on a case I have read closely and been enraged about, the tackling did not quite make me happy. The grainy editing and needless slashing probably added on to making it a simply modest attempt at creating good cinema.
Manjunath Review: The Last Word
Manjunath could have been a reinvigorating film. An unknown face in the titular role helped in building the needed mystery for the film but the way it rolled out was way more contrived than what was expected of it. An honest story at heart, Manjunath disappointed me for the lack of soul and spirit. I am going with a 2.5/5 for this average movie. It is disheartening when good material is so crudely wasted.
Manjunath releases on 9th May, 2014.
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