Aarakshan – Review
Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on August 12, 2011 | 1 Comment
PRODUCER – Feroz Nadiadwala, Parakash Jha
DIRECTOR – Prakash Jha
WRITER – Prakash Jha, Anjum Rajabali
CAST – Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Manoj Bajpayee, Deepika Padukone, Poorbi Anand, Prateik Babbar
MUSIC – Shankar Mahadevan, Ehsaan Noorani, Loy Mendonca
In a romantic moment, Purvi, one of the leads of Prakash Jha’s, ‘Aarakshan’ teases her boyfriend Deepak, ‘Short mein point pe kyon nahi aate?’ (Why don’t you come to the point?) For a film that dedicates a complete song to this sentiment, it takes a meandering route to come to its own point and even then leaves one confused about it.
As much as the film would love to be about the much-debated and much-complex issue of reservations, it is actually about a principal fighting for, apologies, one isn’t really sure what. Dr Prabhakar Anand (Amitabh Bachchan), unbending idealist, is the Principal of Shakuntala Thakral Mahavidyalaya. A believer in equality of the rights of education he dispenses services and help to all that come to him. This selfless dispensing lands him on the doorstep of mercenary ideologies and caste-ist politics. His dalit protégé Deepak, (Saif Ali Khan) turns against him so does his upper caste loyalist Sushant (Prateik Babbar). His college Trust plays games to oust him and Dr Prabhakar Anand’s personal life gets embroiled with forces who’ve turned education into commerce. Thus starts Dr. Prabhakar’s crusade for reclaiming education and equal platform for all.
No doubt, the film upholds certain relevant issues of our times and has a lofty intention of a social change at heart. Sadly though, it fails to build a case as relevant or strong.
It starts with a dalit student throwing his thousand year-old angst at everyone he encounters, including his girlfriend. That quickly changes to building a case for the upper classes to vent against reservation. In a short while, it becomes a revenge saga of a corrupt mercenary wanting power (Manoj Bajpayee as Mithilesh Singh). From there till the end then, it remains a story of the principal fighting for his principles (pun unintended). How it all ties up in the end is a question best left unanswered.
Thundering and jingoistic debates apart, the film comes across as appallingly tacky and amateurish at every point. Prakash Jha’s fascination with silk-clad bad men continues and the forced realism in the setting shines through in its artificial bastis (ghettos) and lights. The naivete of the film jars to the point when one starts noticing how a dalit from Bhopal speaks polished Luckhnavi Hindi and a upper class boy who has to ask the meaning of ‘avsar’ (chance) suddenly starts spouting words like ‘prayas’ (Pure Hindi for ‘effort’), and that too in a moment of anger. All this, when one is meant to be absorbed by the drama onscreen that is trying to portray the real-life drama our nation is surrounded with.
Saif Ali Khan playing the dalit, probably then comes across as the most consistent and single bright spot of the film. Except the language, he portrays the body language, pain and frustration of his character extremely well. Deepika Padukone does justice to her role empowering it with energy and emotion, while Prateik Babbar, once again proves his inability to act.
For all purposes, this film belongs to Amitabh Bachchan and revolves around him. As usual he thunders and roars, suitably flaunting his towering personality at every given opportunity. Not that it does anything for a film as seriously flawed as this.