Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgan, Kareena Kapoor, Manoj Bajpai, Arjun Rampal
Directed by Prakash Jha
There are some films that take you by surprise with their sheer elegance or their audacity, force you to go into raptures over the brilliance of craft and content. There are others that leave you trashing and mourning the lack of cinematic artistry. Then there are those that elicit no passionate response. You watch them impassively and forget them soon after. Prakash Jha’s Satyagraha is one such film. It just leaves you cold and aloof.
The resemblance, or not, to the Anna Hazare-led Jan Lokpal bill andolan is not the real issue. What matters is how compellingly it fictionalises and presents a contemporary mass movement on screen. It was a movement incessantly brought home to us by 24-hour news channels. That real-life drama and fire goes totally amiss on screen. For the most part, Satyagraha makes for tedious, wearying viewing. The reason is that Jha’s cinema is getting fixed in a monotonous blueprint. Be it a Rajneeti, Aarakshan or a Satyagraha, the outline is similar, the characters seem as though they have just shifted from the frames of one film on to another. What adds to the deja vu is that some actors have also been the same. Film after film. So an actor as consummate as Manoj Bajpai ends up playing the politician villain here with an identical amount of hamming and flaring of nostrils as he did in the role of the avaricious coaching-class businessman in Aarakshan. Very little separates the two characters.
Bachchan plays the on-screen equivalent of Anna Hazare. He who takes on the system when he loses his own young son to it. The world joins him through Twitter (the most screen time that the social networking site has got till now) and hashtag revolutions unspooling on fancy tablets. Coming to his aid is his dead son’s best, and much misunderstood, friend Ajay. The underlying theme is quite clear: how commitment and responsibility to nation, community and society has to triumph over disproportionate moneymaking and profiteering. We know which side the film is on. Yet what irks is that despite such an ostensibly noble intent it should end up plugging India Gate flour and Ultratek cement in the most tacky and ridiculously insensate manner.
Kareena seems to sleepwalk through the role of the fiery journalist Yasmin and has a perpetual smile pasted on her face, whether she is covering a significant movement or romancing the hero. Arjun does precious little other than disappear in the background. He is nothing more than a glamorous prop. It’s Big B and Ajay, crossing swords with each other and eventually helping each other out, who bring the film marginally alive. But can’t entirely rescue it.
Reviewer opines .... "It just leaves you cold and aloof."
That is probably because we aren't a revolution type people ... never been in history and I don't see it in the future ... barring some "revolts" here and there. We will push only until "preservation" is not risked and if it is we back off and look for compromises where preservation is assured - after all most often we are Vishnu, the preservers, bhakts.
Just like Arakshan had nothing to do with reservation, this movie will have nothing to do with the Lokpal agitation. With a subtle twist it will go in a totally different direction.
Also it is probably funded by parivar so it would be released at the most opportune moment.
The reason why Rajneeti was a hit, is the reason why the reviewer implies Satyagraha and Aarakshan are not. Apparently, Rajneeti was the story of how a very powerful political family, remained powerful, after their family imploded. People would like a semblance of a similar idea in reality, and the saga that unfolded in Rajneeti, was seen with a pleasure, and resulting interest. Satyagraha and Aarakshan shows Manoj Bajpai, as a politician that depends on the uber-power-politician of Rajneeti, and the politician in Aarakshan falls and rises like Julius Ceasar didn't approve of. And, Anna Hazare isn't a politician. India was the most open and free society, in the world, when we gained independence. I think, the U. S., and Britain saw the man in India being represented by Mahatma Gandhi. Today, the A. N. C. laments that their party isn't what it stood for, in South Africa, and Mr. Mandela is alive, and South Africa got independence in 1992, perhaps.
How does any such movement justify, and how does Ms. Su Kyi see her leadership in Myanmar, as a freedom struggle? The Burmese Junta say, she is fighting the injustice she saw meted out to her father, himself an army officer, by the armed forces. What if Burma justify her leadership, like the A. N. C. does of Nelson Mandela, and India does, of Mahatma Gandhi?
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT