Aug 17, 2011 (Calcutta Tube / IBNS): Aarakshan is a 2011 Bollywood Hindi movie directed by Prakash Jha with Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Saif Ali Khan, Manoj Bajpayee, Prateik Babbar and others in the cast. Read the Hindi film review at CalcuttaTube.
Aarakshan: Good Vs Evil drama
Touted as a social mirror displaying the touchy subject of “Aarakshan” (reservation), the film deviates from its claimed path and strays to a Bollywood melodrama on good versus evil.
Dr. Prabhakar Anand (Amitabh Bachchan) is the principal of a highly esteemed private college and his dalit protégé (Saif Ali Khan) is in love with his daughter (Deepika Padukone) and friends with Sushant Seth (Prateik Babbar), who belongs to the so called upper castes.
With the announcement of the Supreme Court verdict to include quota for the OBCs (other backward classes), the film kicks off.
Friends become foes as a struggle ensues over the validity of the reservation policy and Prabhakar sides with the policy of reservation. Verbal fireworks become the highlight and eventually Prabhakar is forced to resign from the very institution he had vowed to develop.
Throw into the mix a corrupt politician and bad man Mithilesh Singh (Manoj Bajpai), who happens to be a teacher in favour of making education the most profitable business, and you have a traditional Bollywood potboiler with the morally upright versus the cynically crooked, barring the actual Dishum-Dishum.
This is followed by more and more heavy hitting words, that sound more and more like sagely gospels and we see Prabhakar loosing his home and integrity over an off handed remark. Thus the battle between “Zero” Prabhakar and calculating Mithilesh commences and that is what you see for the rest of the film.
The story- 2/5
Why make a movie on a steamy topic that creates a furore even today and makes the very blood boil in veins of so many, when you want to create a saga about a (Mohabattein like) Amitabh? Well the answer eludes me and I am sure it eludes everyone else who has dared to sit through the 2 hour 47 minutes marathon.
Aarakshan shows a shallow dedication in depicting its namesake for a meagre portion of the first half and then weaves a completely different plot. What begins with a lot of huff and puff dies down to nothing even before the second half starts and when the movie ends you begin to wonder- what was the name of the movie again?
Prakash Jha has created a commercial blockbuster that allures you with the smell of biriyani but serves a tasteless dal-roti as the main course, which happens to be the battle of a surreal morally upright teacher and a classic comic book villain whose only motto appears to be making profit out of tutoring the students.
So we see “Tabela classes” of Amitabh clashing against Manoj’s “KK Coaching Centre” and no prize for guessing who wins the duel.
Though “Aarakshan” does raise a lot of questions it doesn’t display the intrepid attitude of “Gangajal” in providing the answers and we are left with wondering why this was banned in so many places.
The characters are also stringently one sided in their beliefs and we see no doubts or confusions in their minds. They are coloured in one shade and one shade only with no room left for human edginess, even when it comes to moral issues like debauchery or social issues like the division of India on the basis of casteist principles.
Everyone in the movie is so sure of their beliefs but I am not so sure about recommending this script.
The direction and technique- 2.5/5
Nothing special. “Aarakshan” is toothless when it comes to directorial flair or celluloid cinematographic brilliance.
The sets are overused versions of earlier films and there are no stunning imageries in the movie that can be compared to the likes of Jha’s other films.
Remember the scene depicting police brutality when they pour acid in “Gangajal” and the scene in “Rajneeti“ where the pathos and determination of Ranbir Kaapor becomes subtly visible as he sprouts out blood while sipping water in the hospital, well don’t expect anything like that from Aarakshan.
The movie is bland and blunt though the opportunities were obviously galore when one is capturing such larger than life characters. Apart from huge gathering of people for convincing and unconvincing reasons, there are no mammoth scenes.
The song sequences, at least in the first few minutes of the movie proves to be a deterrent to its pace and drags the screen time longer.
The acting- 4/5
Nothing to say about the acting when you have people like Saif Ali Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, both of whom have done splendid job in portraying their roles with as much zest and hot temperament as possible. One could say that in the first half you see two angry men- one old and the other young.
For Amitabh this was a typecast of many other roles he has handled in the recent past and hence not much of a challenge but Saif too proves his mettle adequately.
Special mention to Manoj Bajpai is necessary as this man once again proves his acting capacity with a calm suaveness and a crooked smile while he slips into the shoes of baddy Mithilesh Singh. You hate him and detest him and want to stab him with all that collected abhorrence once you see that nasty little grin unfolding upon his lips.
Prateik too shows a lot of promise with what little he has been offered and Deepika fits nicely into the mould of the dutiful doting daughter.
The music- 1.5/5
Music is blunt and could have been done away with altogether.
For most parts it seems to be incoherent with the flow of the movie and hence an unnecessary evil.
The songs too are a major disappointment as they carry no depth and do not provide you with a soul touching flavour. It also fails to boil your blood over injustice and doesn’t incite a feeling of pity or anything else for the matter.
The songs thus, would have been best left out.
Should you reserve your seats for “Aarakshan”?
That should be yes only if Amitabh or Saif is your screen icon and you just can’t afford to miss a flick with them in it. It can be also your recipe for a lazy holiday if melodrama of classical hero versus villain stirs you up.
But if that’s not the case then don’t go in search of answers from “Aarakshan”, I assure you there are none to be found.
– Arnab Chakraborty