( Photo Credit – Poster from Shiksha Mandal )

Shiksha Mandal Review: Star Rating:

Cast: Gulshan Devaiah, Gauahar Khan, Pawan Malhotra, Iram Badar Khan, Shivaani Singh, Kumar Saurabh & ensemble.

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Creator: Syed Ahmad Afzal.

Director: Syed Ahmad Afzal.

Streaming On: MX Player.

Language: Hindi (with subtitles).

Runtime: 9 Episodes Around 50 Minutes Each.

( Photo Credit – Still from Shiksha Mandal )

Shiksha Mandal Review: What’s It About:

In a lawless land in the heart of India stands a town that manufactures doctors by the power of their guns and threatening glory. A scam takes place in broad daylight and no one dares to unearth it. A young girl dares to one day and hell breaks loose. Her brother Aditya (Gulshan) and STF Officer Anuradha (Gauahar) find themselves at the center and decide to bust the scam and save the day.

Shiksha Mandal Review: What Works:

There is a sudden focus on the Indian education system in the visual content creation space and several aspects of it are making it to the content releasing. Kota Factory, the kick starter of the movement focused on the inner catharsis of the literal machinery, and Crash Course set the camera at a wide angle to show you the monsters. Enters yet another story, based on real incidents, Shiksha Mandal, a show that takes the goriness around the education system in India a step ahead and in a brutal manner. But does that pay off?

Written and directed by Syed Ahmad Afzal, while they chose the wrong time to release their half-baked product, the merits of it cannot be ignored. Syed as a filmmaker tries to create a show somewhere between the universe that represents the darkness of Mirzapur and characters that are straight out of a Quentin Tarantino movie. There is a gangster with speech impairment, he is comical but also dreadful. He kills people after cracking a joke and then cracks one more to make the murder even creepier. He is interesting.

So is Nanhe played by an incredible Kumar Saurabh. A man who is always made fun of for his height. But the oppression leads to a day where he becomes insane like Arthur Fleck and decided to give himself some justice by killing the man who inflected him pain in the first place. At the backdrop is the vicious scam and a bigger canvas of the education system. The evils that loom and create havoc and how they are only putting lives at risk. There is man who dreams of opening a university for the needy, but for that, he resorts to crime and the crime of the worst order.

On paper, these are interesting characters. Even STF Anuradha, she is battling her personal life where she is getting divorced, but has to be on the field where she has to leave all personal baggage behind. There is no reason why the actors would say no to playing these parts (except Gulshan). So one cannot criticise them for not looking at the script from a wider angle.

( Photo Credit – Still from Shiksha Mandal )

Shiksha Mandal Review: Star Performance:

Gauahar Khan & Pawan Malhotra are technically the winners amongst the main cast. Khan manages to make us believe is the STF Officer shedding her vanity and keeping the right amount with her. She is definitely growing as an actor and I am here to witness that. Pawan has the power to make any character look good. Be it a father fighting to save his family in Tabbar, or a gangster who thinks of himself as the ‘good man’. The makers never really explore him enough but the actor plays his part with complete dedication.

Gulshan Devaiah’s Aditya is one of the most loosely leads in the recent time. His one line brief is the either shout, sulk, or cry in every scene he has got. While the writers do try to add layers to his character, not even one lands or works well to have us develop any feeling for him. This is a role that shouldn’t be impressive even on paper. And when compared to every other part including his sister Vidya played by Imam Badar Khan, Aditya looks like a scrapped part brought to life as crisis management.

Shiksha Mandal Review: What Doesn’t Work:

The wide angle is where everything goes wrong. Syed while trying to be Anurag Kashyap and Tarantino together, ends up becoming nothing. The characters that are super interesting separately, never sit together right. They all feel like disjointed pieces of different puzzles put in one bag. Because amid all this there is also a gangster who is gay and amazingly sketched, but their significance to the story is just one line and nothing more.

Also, how much melodrama is too much melodrama is what the show continuously struggles to understand. In the same dilemma, correct things are used at the wrong times and you are then confused whether to laugh or be worried. For example, in an intense sequence, they introduce the above mentioned speech impaired gangster. While it is supposed to be a grimy scene, it just ends up being nothing.

Spoiler warning! The show ends at a point so bizarre that it just serves as a turn out than a curious angle. It ends so abrupt that you are never sure if it ended if there ever was a climax planned or the makers just forgot to give us the final episode. I am definitely not excited for the next season, if there is, blame the sensibilities of the makers to shape the most lazy climax.

Shiksha Mandal Review: Last Words:

Shiksha Mandal has ingredients to make a good show, but the chef just ends up adding wrong proportions. If there is a season 2, smell the tea and make it better.

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Must Read: Duranga Review: Gulshan Devaiah & Drashti Dhami’s Flower Of Evil’s Remake Is A Fast Paced Version With Extra Drama

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